Lord Krishna Descends to Reestablish Vedic Culture, by Stephen Knapp

Why the Lord descends into this world is for multiple purposes, but primarily for two reasons. One of which is that, since He originally enunciated the ancient religious path of the Vedas for the benefit of the whole universe, whenever that becomes obstructed by the demoniac or wicked atheists, He descends in one of His forms, which is in the transcendental mode of pure goodness. Thus, He again establishes the righteous Vedic path. It is explained that He is the same Supreme Person, and in His incarnation as Krishna appeared in the home of Vasudeva with His plenary portion, Balarama, who played the part of Krishna’s brother. This was for the second reason, which is to relieve the earth of the burden of the demoniac. As Krishna, He came to kill the hundreds of armies led by the kings who were but expansions of the enemies of the gods, and to spread the fame of the Yadu dynasty. (Bhagavata Purana 10.48.23-24)

Arjuna, after understanding the position of Lord Krishna, recognized His superior position and said, “Thus You descend as an incarnation to remove the burden of the world and to benefit Your friends, especially those who are Your exclusive devotees and are rapt in meditation upon You.” (Bhagavata Purana 1.7.25)

The sages at Kuruksetra, while addressing Lord Krishna, also summarized the reason for Lord Krishna’s appearance in this world. They explained that at suitable times He assumes the mode of pure goodness to protect His devotees and punish the wicked. Thus, the Supreme Personality descends to maintain the eternal path of the Vedas by enjoying His pleasure pastimes. (Bhagavata Purana 10.84.18)

It is also described that when the Lord assumes a human-like body, it is to show His mercy to His devotees. Then He engages in the sort of pastimes that will attract those who hear about them. Then they may become dedicated to Him. (Bhagavata Purana 10.33.36) These pastimes of the Lord are so powerful that they can remove the sins of the three planetary systems and deliver those who are trapped in the continuous cycle of birth and death. (Bhagavata Purana 10.86.34) Those who desire to serve the Lord should hear of these activities. Hearing such narrations of these pastimes destroy the reactions to fruitive work [karma]. (Bhagavata Purana.10.90.49)

It is by Lord Krishna’s pastimes that He calls all the conditioned souls to Him through love. Thus, by His wondrous activities He attracts all beings to return to their natural, spiritual position by reawakening their dormant love and service to Him. This is the purpose of human life, which provides the best facility and intellect for understanding our spiritual identity and connection with the Lord. As Sukadeva Gosvami explained to Maharaja Pariksit, “He, the Personality of Godhead, as the maintainer of all in the universe, appears in different incarnations after establishing the creation, and thus He reclaims all kinds of conditioned souls amongst the humans, nonhumans and gods.” (Bhagavata Purana 2.10.42)

“To show causeless mercy to the devotees who would take birth in the future of this age of Kali, the Supreme Personality, Krishna, acted in such a way that simply by remembering Him one will be freed from all the lamentation and unhappiness of material existence.” (Bhagavata Purana 9.24.61) However, Lord Krishna also explains that when He descends in His human form, the fools who are ignorant of His spiritual nature and supreme dominion over everything deride and criticize Him. (Bhagavad-gita 9.11)

Nonetheless, Lord Krishna Himself further explains the reasons for His appearance in this world to King Muchukunda: “My dear friend, I have taken thousands of births, lived thousands of lives and accepted thousands of names. In fact, My births, activities and names are limitless, and thus even I cannot count them. After many lifetimes someone might count the dust particles on the earth, but no one can ever finish counting My qualities, activities, names and births. O King, the greatest sages enumerate My births and activities, which take place throughout the three phases of time, but never do they reach the end of them. Nonetheless, O friend, I will tell you about My current birth, name and activities. Kindly hear. Some time ago, Lord Brahma requested Me to protect religious principles and destroy the demons who were burdening the earth. Thus I descended in the Yadu dynasty, in the home of Anakadundubhi. Indeed, because I am the son of Vasudeva, people call Me Vasudeva.” (Bhagavata Purana 10.51.36-40)

OUR MISSION TO DEFEND VEDIC DHARMA

By understanding the above paragraphs, we should know that Lord Krishna appeared to reestablish the Vedic tradition because it had become lost. I emphasize this point because, in spite of the many challenges or threats against Vedic culture that Hindus face from others in upholding their tradition, sometimes they still say there is nothing for us to worry about because it is Sanatana-dharma, eternal, that it will never disappear no matter what happens in this world. When I hear this, I ask them whether they have really understood what Lord Krishna says in Bhagavad-gita. For therein we can understand that this Vedic spiritual knowledge does indeed disappear or decline from the face of the earth at times, and must be brought back, or defended in order to keep it prevalent amongst humanity.

In the beginning of Chapter Four of the Bhagavad-gita, we hear of one of the prime reasons why Lord Krishna descended into this world. He explains it this way in a conversation with Arjuna:

“The Supreme Lord said: I instructed this imperishable science of yoga to the sun-god, Vivasvan, and Vivasvan instructed it to Manu, the father of mankind, and Manu in turn instructed it to Ikshvaku. This supreme science was thus received through the chain of disciplic succession, and the saintly kings understood it in that way. But in course of time, the succession was broken, and therefore the science as it is appears to be lost. That very ancient science of the relationship with the Supreme is today told by Me to you because you are My devotee as well as My friend; therefore you can understand the transcendental mystery of this science.”

Arjuna then said: “The sun-god Vivasvan is senior by birth to You. How am I to understand that in the beginning You instructed this science to him?”

Bhagavan Sri Krishna then continued: “Many, many births both you and I have passed. I can remember all of them, but you cannot, O subduer of the enemy! Although I am unborn and My transcendental body never deteriorates, and although I am the Lord of all sentient beings, I still appear in every millennium in My original transcendental form.

“Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion–at that time I descend Myself. In order to deliver the pious and to annihilate the miscreants, as well as to reestablish the principles of dharma, I advent Myself millennium after millennium. 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.” (Bhagavad-gita 4.1-9)

So here we see very clearly that Vedic dharma and its spiritual processes may indeed by eternal, but it may also decline or even disappear from humanity from time to time. This means that if Lord Krishna appeared to reestablish this knowledge and tradition, we should be serious about defending it and making sure that it does not start to decline again. When it comes to defending Vedic dharma, we need to understand that it is not just up to Lord Krishna. It is also up to us. We cannot expect that Lord Krishna will appear again so easily when He was here only 5,000 years ago to do what we should now be doing. We should take it upon ourselves to assist in preserving, protecting, and promoting it for its perpetuation. This is for the benefit of all humanity. We should be willing to take up a bold stance to meet this responsibility, or it may again very well start to decline from the face of the earth like it did before.

This is also why there are various acharyas and devotees, representatives of the Supreme, who may be empowered to provide the guidance for humanity so people everywhere can know how to continue the ways of following Vedic dharma and apply it to their lives.

So to help in this way is not only a service to humanity, but also a service to dharma itself, and to the mission of Lord Krishna, and to all representatives of Vedic culture. What can be a higher cause for us than that?

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Were There Two Buddhas? by Stephen Knapp

I was asked to look into this a few years ago by someone who knew of my research abilities. But I have not been able to until now because of other priorities. But this topic has come up before, that actually there were two different Buddhas that played the part to establish Buddhism and its principles of ahimsa and nonviolence and its monist philosophy.

 

In the following material, we will look at the evidence that seems to indicate that there was first the Avatara Buddha, the incarnation of Lord Vishnu who appeared near 1800 BCE, and then there was another person who became known as Gautama called Buddha, born around 560 BCE.

1. The first Avatara Buddha established the philosophy of Ahimsa, nonviolence, and convinced those followers of Vedic customs who had become bent toward animal sacrifice to give up such rituals and simply follow him, and become kind to animals. Being an avatara of Vishnu, He did not establish any godless or monist philosophy.

2. The Avatara Buddha was also born of his mother Anjana in what became known as Bodhgaya.

3. The second Buddha known as Gautama, Siddhartha, or Shakyamuni – sage of the Shakyas – was born in Lumbini, now in Nepal, with Mayadevi as his mother. He is the one we often hear about, the prince who left home to do austerities to find enlightenment. He went to Bodhgaya to meditate because of its spiritual potency as the birthplace of the avatara Buddha. Then he became enlightened to the reasons for suffering in this world, and developed a godless way of becoming free from suffering. From that point he established the monist and godless philosophy of Buddhism, which became named after him.

Of course, the Theravadin texts refer to six preceding Buddhas (those who have awakened) as Vipasyin, Sikin, Krakuccanda, Konagamara, and Kashyapa, and Maitreya as the Buddha of the future. But we are not talking of any of these.

4. The reason why these two Buddhas became merged into one identity was partly because Adi Sankaracharya, in discussions with others, related them as one person and did not discriminate between the purpose of one or the other. Sankaracharya developed his own sunya philosophy, which was very much like the Buddhist philosophy, replacing the Buddhist nirvana with his Vedic Brahman, to defeat Buddhism and drive it out of India. He succeeded most effectively. At that time many were leaving Vedic culture altogether and converting to Buddhism. But with this new Mayavadha philosophy from Sankaracharya, Buddhism bowed and the conversions stopped, and Buddhism itself started to decline.

However, those important acharyas who followed Sankaracharya defeated his monist or impersonalist Mayavada philosophy and more clearly defined the Vedic view, such as:

Sri Vishnuswami with his Suddha-advaita-vada,

Ramanujacharya with his Vasistadvaita-vada,

Nimbarkacharya with his Dvaita-advaita-vada,

Madhvacharya with the Dvaita-vada,

Sri Chaitanya with his Acintaya-bheda-bheda-vada,

with further commentary and arguments against Sankaracharya’s impersonalist philosophy by Srila Baladevavidyabhushana and others.

Therefore, no matter how much some schools of thought have clung to the Mayavada philosophy of Sankaracharya, it has been defeated and dismissed many times over. Yet, Sankaracharaya played an important part in paving the way for protecting the Vedic culture by using his own imagined philosophy, based on his own interpretation of some of the Vedic stanzas, to defeat Buddhism at the time.

 

Much of the evidence that follows comes from a book called Beyond Nirvana: The Philosophy of Mayavadism: A Life History. This was written by Srila Bhakti Prajnan Keshava Gosvami Maharaja of the Gaudiya Math, the person who gave sannyasa initiation to His Divine Grace Srila A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami. The book was later translated and published in English by Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja, and published in 2003 in Mathura, India.

The whole book gives a lengthy dissertation on the development, history and present situation of the impersonalist point of view. Chapter Two especially focuses on the evidence for two Buddhas that had existed.

First, however, we should point out that there had always been a conflict in the dates of the Buddha’s birth. One birth is around 560 BCE, but when analyzing the records, there is evidence for a much earlier birth of Lord Buddha, of which I have written before as follows:

 

Reestablishing the Date of Lord Buddha

(Excerpt from Proof of Vedic Culture’s Global Existence)

 

Most of us are taught that Buddha was born around 560 to 550 B.C. However, once we start doing some research, we find evidence that this date may be too late. Buddha may have been born much earlier.

For example, in Some Blunders of Indian Historical Research (p. 189), P. N. Oak explains that the Puranas provide a chronology of the Magadha rulers. During the time of the Mahabharata war, Somadhi (Marjari) was the ruler. He started a dynasty that included 22 kings that spread over 1006 years. They were followed by five rulers of the Pradyota dynasty that lasted over 138 years. Then for the next 360 years was the 10 rulers of the Shishunag family. Kshemajit (who ruled from 1892 to 1852 B.C.) was the fourth in the Shishunag dynasty, and was a contemporary of Lord Buddha’s father, Shuddhodana. It was during this period in which Buddha was born. It was during the reign of Bimbisara, the fifth Shishunag ruler (1852-1814 B.C.), when Prince Siddhartha became the enlightened Buddha. Then it was during the reign of King Ajatashatru (1814-1787 B.C.) when Buddha left this world. Thus, he was born in 1887 B.C., renounced the world in 1858 B.C., and died in 1807 B.C. according to this analysis.

Further evidence that helps corroborate this is provided in The Age of Buddha, Milinda and King Amtiyoka and Yuga Purana, by Pandit Kota Venkatachalam. He also describes that it is from the Puranas, especially the Bhagavata Purana and the Kaliyurajavruttanta, that need to be consulted for the description of the Magadha royal dynasties to determine the date of Lord Buddha. Buddha was the 23rd in the Ikshvaku lineage, and was a contemporary of Kshemajita, Bimbisara, and Ajatashatru, as described above. Buddha was 72 years old in 1814 B.C. when the coronation of Ajatashatru took place. Thus, the date of Buddha’s birth must have been near 1887 B.C., and his death in 1807 B.C. if he lived for 80 years.

Professor K. Srinivasaraghavan also relates in his book, Chronology of Ancient Bharat (Part Four, Chapter Two), that the time of Buddha should be about 1259 years after the Mahabharata war, which should make it around 1880 B.C. if the war was in 3138 B.C. Furthermore, astronomical calculations by astronomer Swami Sakhyananda indicates that the time of the Buddha was in the Kruttika period, between 2621-1661 B.C.

Therefore, the fact that Buddha lived much earlier than what modern history teaches us has a number of ramifications. First, the time of the Buddha’s existence is underestimated by about 1300 years. Secondly, this means that Buddhism was in existence in the second millennium B.C. Thirdly, we also know Buddha preached against the misused Vedic rituals of animal sacrifice. Such misuse or misinterpretation of something in a culture generally only happens after a long period of prominence. So the purer aspect of Vedic culture must have been around for many hundreds if not thousands of years before its tradition began to be misused. Therefore, this pushes the Vedic period to a much earlier time from that of Buddha than originally figured, and much earlier than many people have calculated. And lastly, everything else we have figured according to the time frame of the appearance of Buddha now has to be re-calculated. Again we find that history has to be adjusted away from the speculations of modern researchers, and that many of the advancements in society and philosophy, as outlined in the Vedic texts, had taken place much earlier than many people want to admit.

 

* * *

 

However, now with new evidence, we can begin to see that the above information may be quite right for the timing of the Buddha Avatara, but the later birth figure of 560 BCE may also be correct for the second Buddha. The first Buddha avatara established a form of Buddhism by revolting against those rituals that accepted animal sacrifice and emphasized the godly principles of ahimsa, nonviolence based on recognizing the Divine in all beings, and divinity of all souls, arousing compassion for all. The second Buddha styled what became Buddhism that was known for its monist or impersonalistic philosophy (that God, the Absoute Truth, is inert, nonactive, and without any characteristics) and that reaching the same inert and non-active state of nirvana is the goal for attaining freedom from all suffering.

To give further information in this regard, I will now simply include the second chapter of Beyond Nirvana: The Philosophy of Mayavadism: A Life History, as follows, with my own few comments in brackets:

 

Two Buddhas

Shakya Simha Puddha and the Vishnu Avatara Buddha

 

It may be observed in different places in the Puranas that Mayavadism had been referred to as Buddhism [or “covered Buddhism”. It is this “covered Buddhism” that is described in the Puranas as being the major religion after 10,000 years of Kali-yuga have passed, and when the world will have forgotten all information about the personal form of God.]. It is therefore necessary in this context to briefly discuss Buddhism. Sri Buddha’s philosophy or views is Buddhism. Hence, it is imperative that readers become acquainted with scriptural facts about Lord Buddha, who is declared by scripture to be one of the ten incarnations (avataras) of the Supreme Lord, Sri Vishnu. This is described in Srila Jayadeva Gosvami’s composition “Gita Govinda“:

 

vedan uddharate jaganti vahate bhugolam udbibhrate

daityam darayate balim chalayate kshatra kshayam kurvate

paulastyam jayate halam kalayate karunyam atanvate

mlecchan murccayate dasaktikrite krishnaya tubhyam namaha

        “O Krishna, He who accept ten incarnations! I offer my obeisances unto You for saving the Vedic scriptures as Matsya-incarnation; You help up the universe as Kurma-incarnation, and lifted up the world as Varaha, the Boar incarnation; as Nrishimha You vanquished Hiranyakashipu; as Vamana You deceived Bali Maharaja; as Parashurama You exterminated the corrupt warrior class; as Rama You slew Ravana; as Balarama You took up the plough; as Buddha You bestowed compassion, and as Kalki You kill the Mlecchas.” 1

 

In his Dasa Avatara Stotram, Srila Jayadeva writes in the ninth verse:

 

nindasi yajna vidherahaha shrutijatam

sadaya hridaya darshita pashughatam

keshava dhrita bhuddha sharira

jaya jagadisha hare jaya jagadisha hare

        “O Lord of the universe, Keshava! You took the form of Lord Buddha Who is full of compassion and stopped the slaughter of animals which is strictly forbidden in the Vedas.”

 

If this Lord Buddha is an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, then Sri Sankaracharya’s connection to Him requires further elaboration and analysis. It becomes imperative to research this matter if Sankaracharya’s philosophy is referred to as another presentation of Buddhism. Sri Sankaracharya’s assessment of Buddha seems opaque, for he would have us believe that Shakya Simha Buddha [the human] and the Lord Buddha [the avatara] that the Vaishnavas worship, are one and the same personality. However, this is far from the truth. Our revered gurudeva, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, revealed that Shakya Simha Buddha was simply a highly intelligent mortal, a vastly learned person who had attained some inner realizations [his enlightement]. So by declaring Shakya Simha to be Lord Buddha or by equating him with Lord Vishnu’s incarnation, Sri Sankaracharya gives sufficient proof of the respect and dedication he quietly nurtured within him for Shakya Simha. The berating and admonishment he directed towards Shakya Simha is indeed only an “eye-wash” intended to hoodwink the public.

One may ask at this point, in which context did Sri Sankaracharya opine Shakya Simha Buddha (also known as Gautama Buddha [the human]) and Avatara Buddha to be the same personality? In response, I kindly request the learned readers to scrutinize Sri Sankaracharya’s commentaries. In his commentary to Brahma Sutra that I referred earlier, the word sugatena refers to Gautama Buddha, the son of Shuddhodana and Mayadevi, and not to the original Vishnu incarnation of Buddha [as the Srimad-Bhagavatam describes as the son of Anjana who appeared in the province of Gaya, or more specifically Bodhgaya]. While discussing Buddha’s philosophy, Sri Sankaracharya mentions his name in his commentary: sarvatha api anadarniya ayam sugata-samayah shreyaskamaih iti abhiprayaha. In this statement sugata again refers to Gautama Buddha, the son of Mayadevi [the person who appeared in the town now known as Lumbini in Nepal]. However, it is true that another name for Vishnu Avatara Buddha is Sugata, and thus Sankaracharya falsely interpolated Shakya Simha Buddha as if he were Vishnu Avatara Buddha. The use of the name Sugata-Buddha for Vishnu Avatara Buddha was already existing in Buddhist scriptures [so combing the two into one was not difficult]. This is substantiated in the book Amarakosha, an extremely ancient treatise written by the famous nihilist and atheist Amara Simha. It is believed that Amara Simha was born approximately 150 years prior to Sankaracharya’s birth. Amara Simha was the son of the brahmana Sabara Svami, who fathered a host of children with different mothers of different castes. The ancient verse about Amara Simha was well known in the learned circles of yore:

 

brahmanyam abhavad varaha mihiro jyotirvidam agranihi

raja bhartriharish cha vikramanripah kshatratratmajayam abhut

vaishyayam harichandra vaidya tilako jatash cha shankuh kriti

shudrayam amaraha shadeva shabara svami dvija sya atmajaha

        “Varaha Mihira, foremost among the greatest astrologers, was born from the womb of a brahmana lady. King Vikrama and King Bhartrihari were born from a kshatriya mother. From a vaishya mother were born Harichandra, a vaidya tilaka – an excellent Ayurveda physician and Shanku; and from a maidservant (shudra) mother was born Amara Simha. These six were fathered by the brahmana Shabara Svami.”

 

The Amarakosha Speaks of Two Buddhas

        Amara Simha was the author of many books on Buddhism. By coincidence all these books came into the possession of Sri Sankaracharya, who subsequently preserved only the Amarakosha and burnt all the others. The following verses about Buddha are found in the Amarakosha:

 

sarvajnah sugato buddho dharmarajas tathagataha

samanta bhadro bhagavan marajil lokajij jinaha

shadabhijno dashabalo dvayavadi vinayakaha

munindra shrighanah shasta munihi

        “All knowing, transcendental Buddha, king of righteousness, He who has come, beneficent, all encompassing Lord, conqueror of the god of love Mara, conqueror of worlds, He who controls his senses, protector of the six enemies, possessor of the ten powers, speaker of monism, foremost leader, lord of the ascetics, embodiment of splendour and teacher of the ascetics.”

 

The above verse contains eighteen names of Vishnu Avatara Buddha including the name Sugato, and the verse below contains the seven aliases of Shakya Simha Buddha [the human] without any mention of Sugato.

 

Shakyamunis tu yah sa shakyasimhah sarvarthasiddha shauddhodanish cha

gautamash charkabandhush cha mayadevi sutash cha saha

        “Teacher of the Shakyas, lion of the Shakyas, accomplisher of all goals, son of Shuddhodana, of Gautama’s line, friend of the entrapped ones, the son of Mayadevi.”

 

In these verses, starting with sarvajnah and finishing with munih are eighteen names addressing the original Vishnu incarnation Lord Buddha. The next seven names beginning with Shakya-munistu to Mayadevi-Sutascha refer to Shakya Simha Buddha. The Buddha referred to in the first eighteen names and the Buddha referred to in the later seven names are clearly not the same person. [This clearly indicates that knowledge of the two Buddhas was well known long ago.] In the commentary on Amarakosha by the learned Sri Raghunatha Cakravarti, he also divided the verses into two sections. To the eighteen names of Vishnu Avatara Buddha he writes the words “astadash buddha“, which clearly refers only to the Vishnu avatara. Next, on his commentary for the seven aliases of Shakya Simha he writes: “ete sapta shakya bangshabatirneh buddha muni bishete“, meaning “the next seven names starting from Shakya-munistu are aliases of Buddha-muni [the human] who was born into the Shakya dynasty.”

Thus from the above verses and their commentaries it is indeed transparent that Sugata Buddha [the avatara] and the atheist sage Gautama Buddha are not one and the same person. I take this opportunity to request the learned readers to refer to the Amarakosha published by the respected Mr. H. T. Colebrooke in 1807. 2 On pages 2 & 3 of this book the name ‘Buddha’ has been explained. The ‘Marginal Note’ on page 2 for the first eighteen names, states they are names of Ajina or Buddha and the ‘Marginal Note’ for the later seven states these are aliases of Shakya Simha Buddha. A further footnote is added to clarify the second Buddha, of the latter seven names – Footnote (b) “the founder of the religion named after him.”

Mr. Colebrooke lists in his preface the names of the many commentaries he used as references. Besides Raghunatha Cakravarti’s commentary, he took reference from twenty-five others. It can be said with certainty that the propagator of Bahyatmavada, Jnanatmavada and Sunyamavada, the three pillars of atheism, was Gautama Buddha or Shakya Simha Buddha. There is no evidence whatsoever that Sugata Buddha, Lord Vishnu’s incarnation, was in any way connected with atheism in any form. Shakya Simha or Siddhartha Buddha, received the name Gautama from his spiritual master Gautama Muni, who belonged to the Kapila dynasty. This is confirmed in the ancient Buddhist treatise Sundarananda Charita: “guru gotrad atah kautsaste bhavanti sma gautamah” – meaning “O Kautsa, because his teacher was Gautama, they became known from his family line.”

 

Other Buddhist Literatures Recording Two Buddhas

        Besides the Amarakosha, so highly favored by Sankaracharya, there are other famous Buddhist texts like Prajna-Paramita Sutra, Astasahastrika Prajna-Paramita Sutra, Sata-shastrika Prajna-Paramita Sutra, Lalita Vistara, etc. Proper scrutiny of these texts reveals the existence of three categories of Buddha, namely:

Human Buddhas: like Gautama, who came to be known as Buddha after enlightenment.

Bodhisattva Buddhas: Personalities like Samanta Bhadraka who were born enlightened.

Adi (original) Buddha: the omnipresent Vishnu Avatara incarnation of Lord Buddha.

The Amarakosha states that Lord Buddha, Sri Vishnu’s incarnation, is also known as Samanta Bhadra, whereas Gautama Buddha is a human being. Other than the eighteen names of the Vishnu Avatara Buddha mentioned in Amarakosha, many names of Lord Buddha are recorded in the above mentioned Buddhist texts. In Lalita Vistara, Chapter 21, page 178, it is described how Gautama Buddha meditated on the same spot as the predecessor Buddha:

 

cha dharanimunde purvabuddhasanasthaha

samartha dhanur grihitva shunya nairatmavanaiha

klesharipum nihatva drishtijalancha bhitva

shiva virajamashoham prapsyate bodhim agryam

        “The one seated on the hallowed earth of the previous Buddha’s birthplace is on the path of voidism and renunciation. With his weapon, the powerful bow, he vanquishes the enemies of distress and illusion. Thus with wisdom he will attain the auspicious state of grieflessness and worldly detachment.”

 

It is transparent from this verse that Gautama Buddha, realizing the spiritual potency of the previous Buddha’s birthplace, chose to perform meditation and austerities in that vicinity, under a pipal tree. The ancient and original name of this place was Kikata, but after Gautama attained enlightenment there, it came to be known as Buddha Gaya (Bodhi Gaya) [now Bodhgaya]. Even to the present day, the rituals of worship to the deity of Buddha at Bodhi Gaya are conducted by a sannyasi (renounced monk) of the Giri order, belonging to the Sri Sankaracharya sect. It is commonly accepted amongst those monks that Buddha-Gaya (Vishnu Avatara Buddha) was a predecessor of Gautama Buddha, who came later to the original Buddha’s birthplace to practice meditation. Shakya Simha Buddha chose this place to attain liberation, knowing it to be saturated with immense spiritual power.

        Lankavatara Sutra is a famous and authoritative Buddhist scripture. From the description of the Buddha, which is found in this book, it may be firmly concluded that he is not the more recent Shakya Simha or Gautama Buddha. In the beginning of this book we find Ravana, King of Lanka, praying first to the original Vishnu incarnation Buddha and then to the successive [and in this case the] future Buddha. A part of this prayer is reproduced here:

 

lankavatara sutram vai purva buddha anuvarnitam

smarami purvakaih buddhair jina-putra puraskritaihi

sutram etan nigadyante bhagavan api bhashatam

bhavishyatyanagate kale buddha buddha-sutas cha ye

        “Ravana, the king of Lanka, at first recited in the Totaka metre, then sang the following – ‘I invoke in my memory the aphorisms known as Lankavatara-sutra, compiled and propagated by the previous Buddha (Vishnu’s incarnation). The son of Jina (Lord Buddha) presented this book. Lord Buddha and his sons, who will appear in the future, as well as Bhagavan, the Vishnu incarnation, will continue to instruct all from this book.’”

 

Anjana’s Son, Named Buddha, is Different from Shuddhodana’s Son

        Some people may consider that it is not Sankaracharya but the Vaishnavas who demonstrate a greater degree of respect and sincere reverence towards Buddha, therefore, it is they who should also be known as Buddhists. In this regard my personal view is, according to the Linga Purana, Bhavishya Purana, and the ninth of the ten Vishnu incarnations mentioned in the Varaha Purana, the Buddha described there is not the same personality as Gautama Buddha, [the person] who was the son of Shuddhodana. Vaishnavas never worship the nihilist and atheist (sunyavada) Buddha or Gautama Buddha, with this prayer from the Srimad-Bhagavatam 10/40/22:

 

namo buddhaya shuddhaya daitya-danava-mohine

        “O Supreme Lord Buddha! I offer my obeisance unto You, Who is faultless and have appeared to delude the demoniac and atheistic class of men.”

 

Earlier in the Srimad-Bhagavatam 1/3/24, Lord Buddha’s advent is described in the following manner:

 

tatah kalau sampravritte

sammohaya sura-dvisham

buddho namnanjana-sutaha

kikateshu bhavishyati

        “Then in the beginning of Kali-yuga, the Lord will appear as Buddha, son of Anjana, in the province of Gaya, just for the purpose of deluding those who are envious of the faithful theist.”

 

The Buddha mentioned in this verse is Lord Buddha, son of Anjana; also known by some as Ajina’s son. Sri Sridhara Svami writes in his authoritative commentary to this verse:

 

buddha avartaramaha tata iti anjanasya sutaha

ajina suta it pathe ajino’ pi sa eva kikateshu madhye gaya-pradeshe

        “The words tatah kalau etc., describe Vishnu’s incarnation Buddha as the son of Anjana. Ajina in the word ajina sutaha actually means Anjana. Kikata is the name of the district of Gaya.”

 

The monists, either by mistake or some other reason, regard Sri Sridhara Svami as belonging to their sect and persuasion. Be as it may, his comments however on this matter can easily be accepted by the Mayavadis as true without hesitation. The following quote is from the Nrisimha Purana 36/29:

 

kalau prapte yatha buddho bhavannarayana – prabhuh

        “In Kali-yuga the Supreme Lord Narayana appears as Buddha.”

 

A fair estimate of Lord Buddha’s appearance can be made from this verse; that He lived approximately 3500 years ago, or by accurate astronomical and astrological calculation around 4000 years ago. Regarding the astrological facts at the time of His birth, the treatise Nirnaya-sindhu states in the second chapter:

 

jyaishtha shuka dvitiyayam buddha-janma bhavisyati

        “Lord Buddha will appear on the second day of the waxing moon, in the month of Jyaishtha.”

 

 

Elsewhere in this book is described the procedure for Lord Buddha’s worship:

 

pausha shuklasya saptamyam kuryat buddhasya pujaanam

        “Lord Buddha is especially worshipped in the seventh day of the waxing moon in the month of Pausha.”

The rituals, prayers and procedures for worship mentioned in these scriptures all clearly indicate that they are meant for Lord Vishnu’s ninth avatara incarnation. Lord Buddha also finds repeated mention in many authentic Vedic scriptures like the Vishnu Purana, Agni Purana, Vayu Purana, and Skanda Purana. The Buddha mentioned in the Devi Bhagavat, a more recent text, and in Shakti Pramoda, refers to Shakya Simha Buddha – not the Vishnu Avatara Buddha.

The truth remains that there are many different demigods and demigoddesses who are worshipped by their respective devotees, in the same way that Shakya Simha Buddha (who was an atheist) is worshipped or glorified by his followers. However, this is all completely separate and unrelated to the path of Sanatana-dharma, which is the eternal religion of man enunciated in the Srimad-Bhagavatam.

According to the German scholar Max Mueller, Shakya Simha Buddha was born in 477 BC in the Lumbini gardens, within the city of Kapilavastu. This ancient and at that time well-populated city in the Terai region of Nepal was well known. Shakya Simha or Gautama Buddha’s father was known as Shuddhodana, while his mother was called Mayadevi, this is all accepted as historical fact. Although Anjana’s son and Shuddhodana’s son both share the name of Buddha, they are nevertheless two different personalities. One of them was born in Kikata – which is now famous as Bodhi-Gaya, while the second Buddha was born in Kapilavastu, Nepal. Thus, the birthplace, parents, and era of Vishnu Avatara Buddha and the birthplace, parents, era, etc., of Gautama Buddha are totally at variance.

We can therefore now observe that the famous personality generally referred to as Buddha is not the Vishnu incarnation, the original Lord Buddha and, hence, Sankaracharya’s views on this are completely unacceptable. It is not uncommon to find disagreements in matters of tradition and history, but in regards to important and significant issues an unbiased and objective discussion is imperative. Attracted by Buddha’s personality and fame, it is one thing to honor and respect him, but being impressed by his philosophy and teachings and reverentially surrendering to him is wholly another matter. Whatever the case may be, I am sure that the respected readers have grasped the crucial point that Buddha is not a single person, but at least two separate identities – Shakya Simha is not the same as Lord Buddha, Vishnu’s ninth incarnation. It is certainly undeniable that there are some similarities between these two Buddhas, yet it is incontestable that they are two different persons [with two different purposes].

Footnotes

1. Mleccha – derived from the Sanskrit root mlech meaning to utter indistinctly (Sanskrit) – a foreigner; non-Aryan; a man of an outcaste race; any non-Sanskrit speaking person who does not conform to the Vedic social and religious customs.

2. This book was published under the auspices of the Asiatic Society and can be referenced at it library. See www.indev.nic.in/asiatic/

 

END OF CHAPTER TWO – BEYOND NIRVANA

CONCLUSION

        Actually, there is much I like about Buddhism. I like its peaceful and gentle ways, the basis of its connection with all of life, but also its principle of detachment and renunciation as a means to enter higher forms of existence. I like some of the forms of meditation that it uses to gain more understanding and control of the mind. I like its mild form of determination to the principles and its goals.

However, from the above descriptions we can understand that the worship of the first Buddha, which at this point in time has practically been forgotten, is a means of definite spiritual progress through nonviolence, compassion for all and renunciation from the world for one’s self-interest. However, these days most of what is known of Buddhism is based on the monistic path as established by Shakya Simha Buddha, the second Buddha who was but a mortal who, with great intellectual ability, propounded a path that promised the end of suffering, and the eventual entrance into what is called nirvana. This goal of entering nirvana actually requires such a discipline that, in this day and age, it is practically impossible to achieve. This would also mean that, no matter how much one progresses along this path, the most one can attain, besides a more peaceful life which may be good enough for some people, are still future rounds of birth in this world. Praying to Shakya Simha or Gautama Buddha, or any of the other forms of which he may be depicted, still cannot offer any Divine assistance, since he is not really Divine. Nor does Buddhism really acknowledge God, either outside us or within. The soul is also not recognized. So, it is perfect for those who wish to follow a path that is basically atheistic in nature.

In this way, it is very similar to the philosophy that was established by Sankaracharya who proposed, through his own imaginative interpretation of some basic Sanskrit verses, that the Absolute Truth was impotent, inert, and without any characteristics. Like the Buddhist sunya or void, nirvana, or Great White Light, Sankaracharya also propounded a monistic Brahman that is the eternal and timeless void, nondual, an impersonal oneness, and great white light, the Brahman effulgence. You could say that it is merely an adaptation of the core concepts of Buddhism but with a Vedic slant. As Shakya Simha Buddha tried to nullify the sufferings of the world through voidism, Sankaracharya tried to do the same thing with his conception of impersonal Brahman. Sankaracharya says that Brahman is all that is eternal, while Shakya Simha proposed that the void is all that remains.

Students of Sankaracharya will accept him as a scholar of Vedanta and a great theist and will follow what appears to be his apparently theistic teachings, but in this way they actually become atheists by giving up the concept of God and any chance of establishing a relationship with the Supreme Being.

Sri Krishna-Dvaipayana Vyasadeva, who compiled the major Vedic texts, has declared in his writings in the Puranas that the monistic, impersonal Mayavada philosophy is false and non-Vedic. The same would apply to what we presently know as Buddhism. You can find this in the Padma Purana 25/7:

 

mayavadam asacchastram pracchannam bauddham uchyate

        “The theory of Mayavadism is a concocted scripture and is known as a disguised Buddhism.”

 

Therefore, if we accept the traditional and major Vedic view, as found in all Vedic samhitas and original texts, it ultimately leads to the premise that God is personal, with personality and characteristics, active and eternal, though beyond our mental ability to comprehend, but with whom everyone has a relationship that only needs to be reawakened. The real Vedic tradition points to the ways in which we can grow beyond our limitations and realize by direct perception our natural spiritual identity and reawaken our eternal loving relationship with the Supreme Spirit. This is the direction and ultimate goal of all truly Vedic processes of spiritual development.

 

Natural Disasters: Where is God in All of This? by Stephen Knapp

 As we look around the world, or watch and read the news, practically everywhere is affected by some kind of natural disaster. Floods are displacing millions of people, forest fires are destroying thousands of acres and burning out of control, earthquakes continue to force people to live in fear, and tornadoes and hurricanes have become more fierce and numerous than ever. And if that is not enough, droughts are causing massive crop damage and water shortages.

The fact is that nobody likes a loss, no matter how great or small it may be. And a disaster can take years to recover from, which can only increase our struggle to exist in this world. So what are we to make of all this? Is this just our own bad luck? Is this some kind of karmic reaction we are suffering? Is this merely the way life goes on in this material world? Or is this what God is doing to us? In fact, where is God in all of this?

From a spiritual perspective, when we ask “Where is God in all of this?” we must understand that to blame God for the way the world works is our own ignorance. And this ignorance is only the misguided perception of the absence of God, just as darkness is only the absence of light. From the very beginning, the world and everything in it is temporary. Or did you forget that? Our existence in this material world is also temporary. But we get so accustomed to the idea that things are going to go on the way we expect them to, that we are thrown completely out of whack when they don’t, and especially when the world throws reversals into our life. There is an old saying: Show me a world with security, and I will show you an illusion. The point is that change is the only constant in this world, which also implies that change means a lack of security due to not knowing what we can really expect in the future. And it is a challenge to remain balanced in all of this. And the only way you can do that is by attaining a spiritual consciousness. Let me explain:

Natural disasters go on in varying degrees on a daily basis, whether we notice them or not. Nature also means neutral, and it acts in whatsoever way it does to provide balance, even if it may seem cruel, as in the way stronger animals feed off the weak. That is a law of nature, and however cruel it may seem to be, in this world that is how balance is maintained in many cases so that certain species do not overpopulate. In this and so many other ways, nature acts in a way to help maintain balance in this world.

So when natural disasters hit humanity, as in events mentioned in the first paragraph, it forces us to become more clear regarding the temporary nature of this world, and more cooperative with that principle, whether we like it or not. Natural disasters can also provide a way to discern what is really important and what is not. We may have lost so many of our possessions, but we may still have our life. And if we lose our life or someone we know, we again have to realize the importance of how to live with whatever time we may have, fully knowing that tomorrow is promised to no one. Then we have to shed those things that, in the end, we are bound to lose anyway. Loss is no easy thing in one’s life, but better to go through stages of preparation than to be tested only at the very end of our lives at the time of death when it may be more difficult than ever to lose everything you hold dear. We need to be ready to go forward into the next realm rather than being held back by all the longings we have for the attachments we have accrued in this life. This is the lesson we should learn by experiencing various natural disasters on a personal level, or by observing those that go on around us. In this way, disasters of any kind can act as lessons that pull away the layers of illusion that hold us to the false impression of who or what we think we are in this material realm.

This is how there is some good in any situation, regardless of how awful it may seem. God does many things in one move, or one act. And in one major event, so many things may have been put into motion for many positive things to take place in the long run. Sometimes you can see that in the change of the psyche of innumerable people in the world that may have been affected by whatever event has happened, especially when they deal with the event by pulling together to sort out the new challenges they have to face. In this way, there is hope for a new vision, a new awareness, a new spirit of cooperation and view of each other.

For example, when a tornado destroys a neighborhood or town, everyone has to drop their ego and their differences in order to work together to make things operate smoothly again. So many trees may have been blown over, dropping electrical lines and stopping the flow of power or communication. Then people must work together to help clean up, get things working again, or check on the elderly to see if they are all right. And the more we work together, the easier it becomes for everyone. But is not that the case with life in general? Sometimes we forget, until a natural disaster again forces us to take a second look at who we are, who are our neighbors, and possibly with less judgmentalism than before. So sometimes we must get conked on the head, so to speak, to force ourselves to look at who we are and where our life is taking us. It is strange that sometimes this will not happen unless some major turning point takes place in our lives. These things show how well the world can move when we cooperate, when we acknowledge our need for each other and also our joy at being needed or giving to a higher cause by helping others.

With this new vision of ourselves and who we are and how we fit into the world, we may then see how God is found in all the acts of care and concern in each person around us. When the world comes together to help each other or those who have been affected by the disaster, all the kindness, consideration, the prayers, the donations, the heart-felt love that is now more prevalent than ever, is all part of our spiritual nature. When we consider all of this, we can see that each act of kindness is like the light of God everywhere. We simply have to be more willing to keep this spiritual renewal and vision in our heart and minds in our everyday lives.

In this way, the tragedy itself, whatever it may be, will have made us more humble, more cooperative, and a kinder person. It makes us realize our vulnerability, both individually and collectively. It makes us realize how fragile life can be, and how we should also appreciate whatever blessings we have. It forces a reassessment of who we are and, if we learn the lesson properly, gives an opportunity for a voluntary renewal in our spirituality. It also helps separate the superficial from what is really important. That is why we must always cling to our spiritual identity and the grace of God and be ready for anything.

Regarding those who may have died, what do we do for them? We have to remember that the soul, our real identity, never dies. It is eternal, so it merely moves on to another realm. Death is a soul’s change of focus from one plane of existence to another. The legacy of those who have departed is the renewed unity found in us survivors, and the reason to work together more closely than ever. It shows the reason why we must shed our dislike or unfamiliarity with each other. Their legacy is that this has brought us together in a mood of solidarity. It reawakens us to our dependency on God and His protection. This is the legacy of those we have lost in such situations. This is their gift to us. Let us keep this gift precious so it does not take another tragedy or loss to again reawaken ourselves to how special we all are.

We also must understand that in these sorts of tragedies, no one is sacrificed or dies in vain. The Lord of all casts aside no sincere soul, regardless of caste or creed, for all paths ultimately point toward the same God. They have not left us but only gone on before us. There is always a purpose behind everything, whether we understand it or not. So let us give them our blessings and pray for their safe journey to higher realms. Let God bless and guide all those who have departed from us.

However, when such disasters are related to man-made problems, like the failure of nuclear reactors, or oil spills and the like, this is simply because things are becoming too complex and out of control, or too far away from the way we need to cooperate with nature. It is a sign that we need to change and simplify our lives and actions. It is like nature shaking the tree to drop the unnecessary fruits. Then we merely have to change our vision and the values that we have to again begin to move in the right direction.

Disasters or tragedies created by fanatical religious terrorism is in a category by itself, apart from natural disasters. Such events are not a display of one’s allegiance to God, but a show of hatred for one’s fellow man, only because a section of society seems different, or that they follow a different spiritual path. This is spiritual blindness. Let us not follow in their ways of being oblivious to the unity and Divinity with all of us. But let us drop the superficialities and cooperate together, knowing full well that such is the way to make life easier for all of us. The desire to conquer or convert is the most divisive path there can be, and we have seen for many centuries that it has been the most cruel and destructive as well. And has the world gotten better because of it? No, in fact, it has only increased the fear and chaos in the world instead.

Let us also remember as we face such predicaments or tragedies, our greatest strengths and developments are often revealed through our most difficult challenges. Therefore, through such tests and by working together to improve things because of such difficulties, we will come ever closer to see the real potential and character of ourselves and the people involved. It will show the world the exceptional possibilities of real cooperation and understanding that can exist. It can show everyone the unity that can come from a spiritual renewal and reawakening.

Therefore, in such situations we should pray for the dead that they can be escorted to higher realms by God’s guiding light. We also pray for the well-being of the injured, the survivors, and the families who have lost loved ones, that they be soothed by God’s grace. We pray for us to become free from the shock and sadness that this sudden change has caused. But let us learn the lesson in the proper way so we can move forward with progress.

Let us also pray for the help from the volunteers and rescuers, those who donate much needed money to rebuild, and all who give their time and prayers to get us through this tragedy. Let the light of love, hope and upliftment shine forth and fill the world with God’s grace, beauty and power. Let everyone see the sense of living in peace and cooperation. Before we attack or criticize others, let us see our own faults which we must route out. Let us work on cleansing our own minds and purifying our own hearts, and then extend that encouragement to others.

Let us turn hate to love, enmity to friendship, strangeness to familiarity, greed to generosity, war to peace, and fear into hope. Let us pray for the good of all, and grow with the challenges, finding strength in the Supreme. May God protect us in all directions and guide us through whatever difficulties that appear in our lives.

In conclusion, let us offer our respect to God, and let Him kindly vanquish our demon-like desires for selfish or fruitive activities in this material world. Please dear Lord, appear in our hearts and drive away our ignorance so that by Your mercy we may become fearless in the struggle for existence in this temporary realm. May there be good fortune throughout the universe, and may all envious persons be pacified. May all living beings become calm by practicing devotion to You, for by accepting such service they will realize Your Divinity in each and every person, and thus think of each other’s welfare. Therefore, let us all engage in the service of the Supreme Being, Lord Sri Krishna, and always remain absorbed in thought of Him. (Bhagavata Purana 5.18.8-9)

Reaching the Ecstasy Within Devotional Yoga, by Stephen Knapp

        While on the path of spiritual development, many paths offer the means for attaining a higher happiness than through mere materialistic pleasures. But how do we actually attain the inner bliss or ecstasy that we hear about, or for which we are hankering that can overcome all other desires for wholeness and balance within?

        Yoga is known for helping us reach lofty states of mind, and elevated states of being, and thus perceiving higher levels of reality. This can be done through the means of karma yoga by directing our actions, or through jnana yoga by giving us loftier knowledge and discrimination between what is spiritual and material, or through raja or astanga yoga by preparing our bodies and minds for perceiving higher states of consciousness and spiritual dimensions, and through bhakti yoga which provides the means for attaining union with God through love and devotional activities. All of these, therefore, pave the way for a bliss that is beyond material or physical and mental stimulation. However, devotional yoga, known as bhakti, is especially known for giving the soul a higher taste in happiness and bliss by aligning our consciousness in loving attachment for the Supreme Lover, especially in the form of Lord Krishna who is known as the God of love. Why? Because that is the nature of the soul. It is the inherent characteristic of the soul to love and be loved. And the highest of all relationships are those of the spiritual dimension, or spiritual relations, beyond being dependent merely on physical expression. It goes beyond all that.

So, the way to do this is by acting in the proper mood or state of mind, which is the mood of servitude. Though some people may not agree that we should offer our service to God, the fact is that we are offering service to so many people and things around us all the time. We may be offering service to our parents, or teachers and professors in order to make progress in our education so that we can have a good career and then become good servants to our boss or to the company in order to get a good paycheck. Or we may be good servants of our wife, husband or family in providing what they need or want by earning the necessary funds to do so. Or we may be servants of the government and pay our taxes on time, or by observing the local laws properly. Or we may be slaves to the dictates of our mind and senses, which never stop telling us what they want us to do. The point is that material service is endless. And aren’t all these beings that we are serving parts of God, which means we are indirectly serving God anyway? That is why when we understand this, we may become more inclined toward our spiritual needs and learn how to engage in direct service to God.

Our servitude towards God does not mean that we become slaves to a conception of God that demands our attention or worship, but we show our humility and service attitude to God, and our hankering for an exchange with God, especially Lord Krishna who is known as the God of love. This is why Lord Krishna is bluish in color, because that is the color of pure consciousness, which is also pure unconditional love for all of the living beings. As this love between God and ourselves begins to grow, and as God recognizes our longing for offering service, at least when we are honestly sincere, the more He will reciprocate with us. Then the more we taste and recognize that exchange, the more we grow in that ecstasy that outweighs any other kind of pleasure. Thus, we find that the greatest happiness and bliss is found in that exchange of offering loving service to the Supreme who reciprocates with His love for us. Such a spiritual relationship is the highest of all relations, and invokes within us the most ecstatic joy that can be attained. The more we enter into that bliss, the sweetness of which is found in the mentality and attitude of offering service to the Divine, the more we naturally give up any interest in other relations or other kinds of happiness, like finding a diamond amongst broken pieces of glass. Then the more we long to enter ever more deeply into that ecstatic exchange.

How we should think in terms of our mood in order to enter into that spiritual ecstasy is described in many verses in the Vedic spiritual texts.

 

For example, it is described in the Sri Caitanya-caritamrita that “The conception of servitude to Sri Krishna generates such an ocean of joy in the soul that even the joy of oneness with the Absolute, if multiplied ten million times, could not compare to a drop of it.” (Sri Caitanya-caritamrita, Adi-lila 6.44)

In this way, the position of being a devotee is higher than that of equality or oneness with Lord Krishna, for the devotees are dearer to Lord Krishna than His own self. Lord Krishna considers His devotees greater than Himself. In this connection the scriptures provide an abundance of evidence. (Adi-lila 6.100-1)

As Lord Krishna Himself says, “O Uddhava! Neither Brahma, nor Shankara, nor Sankarshana, nor Lakshmi [the Goddess of Fortune], nor even My own self is as dear to Me as you.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 11.14.15).

Furthermore, “The sweetness of Lord Krishna is not to be tasted by those who consider themselves equal to Krishna. It is to be tasted only through the sentiment of servitude. This conclusion of the revealed scriptures is also the realization of experienced devotees. Fools and rascals, however, cannot understand the opulences of devotional emotions.” (Adi 6.103-4)

Other examples of the devotees finding the highest happiness in the mood of offering service to Lord Krishna are provided , such as in this next verse spoken in connection with the rasa dance of Krishna with the gopis, as is quoted from Srimad-Bhagavatam (10.31.6). When Krishna disappeared from His companions in the course of dancing, the gopis sang like this in separation from Krishna.:

“O Lord, remover of the afflictions of the inhabitants of Vrindavana! O hero of all women! O Lord who destroys the pride of Your devotees by Your sweet, gentle smile! O friend! We are Your maidservants. Please fulfill our desires and show us Your attractive lotus face.”

Even the beloved girlfriends of Lord Krishna in Vrindavana, the gopis, the dust of whose feet was desired by Sri Uddhava and who are more dear to Krishna than anyone else, regard themselves as Krishna’s maidservants. The following verse also appears in Srimad-Bhagavatam (10.47.21), in the section known as the Bhramara-gita. When Uddhava came to Vrindavana, the chief of the gopis or confidential cowherd girls, Srimati Radharani, in complete separation from Krishna, sang like this:

“O Uddhava! It is indeed regrettable that Krishna resides in Mathura. Does He remember His father’s household affairs and His friends, the cowherd boys? O great soul! Does He ever talk about us, His maidservants? When will He lay on our heads His aguru-scented hand?”

“What to speak of the other gopis, even Sri Radhika [Srimati Radharani], who in every respect is the most elevated of them all and who has bound Sri Krishna forever by Her loving attributes, serves His feet as His maidservant.” (Adi-lila 6.69-70)

The following verse is quoted from Srimad-Bhagavatam (10.30.39). When the rasa dance was going on in full swing, Krishna left all the gopis and took only Srimati Radharani with Him. At that time all the gopis lamented, and Srimati Radharani, being proud of Her position, requested Krishna to carry Her wherever He liked. Then Krishna immediately disappeared from the scene, and Srimati Radharani began to lament as follows:

“O My Lord, O My husband, O most dearly beloved! O mighty-armed Lord! Where are You? Where are You? O My friend, reveal Yourself to Your maidservant, who is very much aggrieved by Your absence.” This indicates the feeling of servitude in separation.

Sri Krishna explains the significance of this kind of spiritual happiness and the means to attain it to His devotee Uddhava: “O learned Uddhava, those who fix their consciousness on Me, giving up all material desires, share with Me a happiness that cannot possibly be experienced by those engaged in sense gratification. One who does not desire anything within this material world, who has achieved peace by controlling his senses, whose consciousness is equal in all conditions, and whose mind is completely satisfied in Me finds only happiness wherever he goes.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 11.14.12-13)

It is this happiness and inner spiritual bliss that becomes the goal of all those who begin to have even a glimpse of that ecstasy, which is attained by full absorption in the loving mood of serving the Supreme. This means that when a person actually feels this inner ecstasy, he or she loses interest in many of the issues or attractions or temptations that used to be very important to them, whether it be sports, politics, economics, current events, etc. Such a person gives up all kinds of materialistic distractions and begins to focus more and more steadily on that bliss and whatever it takes to maintain it, which automatically outweighs all other forms of entertainment and mental preoccupations that a person had previously found of interest.

Not only was this the feeling amongst the confidential servants of Krishna, such as Srimati Radharani and the devotees in Vrindavana, but the same feeling existed in the queens that lived in Dwaraka, Krishna’s opulent and royal capital city.

As it is explained, “In Dvaraka-dhama, all the queens, headed by Rukmini, also consider themselves maidservants of Lord Krishna.” (Adi-lila 6.72)

An example of this mood is provided in this verse from Srimad-Bhagavatam (10.83.8), which was spoken by Queen Rukmini: “When Jarasandha and other kings, bows and arrows upraised, stood ready to deliver me in charity to Shishupala, He [Krishna] forcibly took me from their midst, as a lion takes its share of goats and sheep. The dust of His lotus feet is therefore the crown of unconquerable soldiers. May those lotus feet, which are the shelter of the goddess of fortune, be the object of my worship.”

Like this verse, this next verse appears in Srimad-Bhagavatam (10.83.11) in connection with the meeting of the family ladies of the Kuru and Yadu dynasties at Samanta-pancaka. At the time of that meeting, the queen of Krishna named Kalindi spoke to Draupadi in this way. During the same incident, the following verse, also quoted from Srimad-Bhagavatam (10.83.39), was spoken to Draupadi by a queen of Krishna’s named Laksmana:

“Knowing me to be performing austerities with the desire to touch His feet, He came with His friend Arjuna and accepted my hand. Yet I am but a maidservant engaged in sweeping the floor of the house of Sri Krishna.”

“Through austerity and through renunciation of all attachments, we have become maidservants in the home of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is satisfied in Himself.”

The next verses that follow are also from Srimad-Bhagavatam (10.47.66–67), spoken by the denizens of Vrindavana, headed by Krishna’s father Maharaja Nanda and his associates, to Uddhava who had come from Mathura. Maharaja Nanda explains:

“My dear Uddhava, please hear me. In truth Krishna is my son, but even if you think that He is God, I would still bear toward Him my own feelings for my son. May my mind be attached to your Lord Krishna. May our minds be attached to the lotus feet of your Lord Krishna, may our tongues chant His holy names, and may our bodies lie prostrate before Him. Wherever we wander in the material universe under the influence of karma by the will of the Lord, may our auspicious activities cause our attraction to Lord Krishna to increase.”

Furthermore, “Lord Krishna’s friends in Vrindavana, headed by Sridama, have pure fraternal affection for Lord Krishna and have no idea of His opulences. Although they fight with Him and climb upon His shoulders, they worship His lotus feet in a spirit of servitude.” (Adi-lila 6.62-3)

In light of this information, this next verse, quoted from Srimad-Bhagavatam (10.15.17), describes how Lord Krishna and Lord Balarama were playing with the Their friends the cowherd boys after killing the demon Dhenukasura in the forest of Talavana near Vrindavana.

“Some of the friends of Sri Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, massaged His feet, and others whose sinful reactions had been destroyed fanned Him with hand-held fans.”

“What to speak of others, even Lord Baladeva, Lord Krishna’s brother and first expansion, which is another form of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is full of emotions like pure friendship and paternal love. He also considers Himself a servant of Lord Krishna. Indeed, who is there who does not have this conception of being a servant of Lord Krishna? He who is Sesa, Sankarshana, with His thousands of mouths, serves Sri Krishna by assuming ten forms. Rudra, who is an expansion of Sadashiva and who appears in unlimited universes, is also a gunavatara [qualitative incarnation] and is the ornament of all the demigods in the endless universes. (Adi-lila 6.76-78)

“This Sadashiva also desires only to be a servant of Lord Krishna. Sri Sadashiva always says, ‘I am a servant of Lord Krishna.’ Intoxicated by ecstatic love for Lord Krishna, he becomes overwhelmed and incessantly dances without clothing and sings about Lord Krishna’s qualities and pastimes. All the emotions, whether those of father, mother, teacher or friend, are full of the sentiments of servitude. That is the nature of love of Krishna. Lord Krishna, the one master and the Lord of the universe, is worthy of being served by everyone. Indeed, everyone is but a servant of His servants. That same Lord Krishna has descended as Lord Caitanya, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Everyone, therefore, is His servant. Some accept Him whereas others do not, yet everyone is His servant. One who does not accept Him, however, will be ruined by his sinful activities.” (Adi-lila, 6.80-86)

That last statement means that those who do not want to acknowledge being a servant of the Supreme will act according to their own whims, which means by the dictates of their mind and senses. Unfortunately, such dictates always lead to what becomes sinful activities that pave the way to further rounds of birth and death in this material world, continuously chasing after the happiness they long for in order to feel fulfilled.

EXAMPLES FROM THE PASTIMES OF LORD CAITANYA

Even Lord Krishna cannot taste the intense sweetness within the love for Himself except in the mood of one of His devotees. Therefore, as was just mentioned, Krishna descends to experience the sweetness in that love by assuming the form of Sri Caitanya, who is the Lord’s avatara in the disguise of His own devotee. Sri Caitanya appeared 500 years ago in the town of Mayapur in West Bengal for two reasons: to taste the nectar that exists in a devotee’s love for Himself as Lord Krishna, and to start the sankirtana movement, which is the congregational chanting of the Lord’s holy names, which many people and spiritual groups continue to do. However, just as Lord Krishna descends into this world with His associates to perform His pastimes, Lord Caitanya, also known as Lord Gauranga for His golden complexion, also appeared in this world with many of His spiritual associates. Some of His associates included Sri Nityananda, who was an incarnation of Lord Balarama, Krishna’s brother. Then there was also Sri Advaita Acharya, who was an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, and Sri Gadadhara who was an incarnation of Srimati Radharani, along with many others, some of whom will be named in the following verses. [For more information about Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, click on the link to take you to the article about Him on my website.] In the following verses we will hear of the sentiment of servitude that existed within the consciousness of Sri Caitanya’s devotees, such as Sri Advaita and others.

“He [Sri Advaita Acharya] says, ‘Nityananda and I are servants of Lord Caitanya.’ Nowhere else is there such joy as that which is tasted in this emotion of servitude.

“The most beloved goddess of fortune [Lakshmi] resides on the chest of Sri Krishna, yet she too, earnestly praying, begs for the joy of service at His feet.

“All the associates of Lord Krishna, such as Brahma, Shiva, Narada, Suta and Sanatana Kumara, are very pleased in the sentiment of servitude.

“Sri Nityananda, the wandering mendicant, is the foremost of all the associates of Lord Caitanya. He became mad in the ecstasy of service to Lord Caitanya [who is the same as Lord Krishna].

“Srivasa, Haridasa, Ramadasa, Gadadhara, Murari, Mukunda, Candrashekhara and Vakreshvara are all glorious and are all learned scholars, but the sentiment of servitude to Lord Caitanya makes them mad in ecstasy.

“Thus they dance, sing and laugh like madmen, and they instruct everyone, ‘Just be loving servants of Lord Caitanya.’

“Sri Advaita Acharya thinks, ‘Lord Caitanya considers Me His spiritual master, yet I feel Myself to be only His servant.’

“Love for Krishna has this one unique effect: it imbues superiors, equals and inferiors with the spirit of service to Lord Krishna.” (Adi-lila 6.34-42) This means that all differences become nullified when we become absorbed in the spiritual ecstasy of loving service to the Lord. This also means that when we are engaged in our meditation, or our japa, or other devotional activities and are still not feeling the right connection with it and the higher energy that comes from the association of Lord Krishna, we have to adjust our attitude or mindset. To make the right connection, we have to be in the mood of servitude, which means that whatever actions I’m performing, I’m doing them to serve the higher cause, the higher purpose, for the pleasure of the Supreme Being. Then we can begin to feel we are connected in the right way, like a light bulb connected in the right way through the power lines to the power house, which provides the energy the light bulb needs to give its brilliance. When we are connected in the right way, through the attitude of servitude to the Supreme Soul, then the little jiva soul also becomes energized and enlightened and enlivened with the brilliance of spiritual knowledge and perception, and the bliss that naturally comes from the proper approach to the spiritual path.

“For evidence, please listen to the examples described in the revealed scriptures, which are corroborated by the realization of great souls.

“Although no one is a more respected elder for Krishna than Nanda Maharaja in Vraja, who in transcendental paternal love has no knowledge that his son is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, still ecstatic love makes him, what to speak of others, feel himself to be a servant of Lord Krishna.

“He too prays for attachment and devotion to the lotus feet of Lord Krishna, as the words from his own mouth give evidence.” (Adi-lila 6.43-46)

Even Sri Advaita loudly proclaims his servitude to Lord Caitanya, which gives Him the highest bliss,  “‘I am a servant of Lord Caitanya, a servant of Lord Caitanya. I am a servant of Lord Caitanya, and a servant of His servants.’ Saying this, Advaita Prabhu dances and loudly sings. Then at the next moment He quietly sits down.” (Adi-lila 6.86-87)

What this means is that Advaita Prabhu was not able to control his ecstasy. It made Him jump up in bliss, crying out His feelings, and then realizing that others were watching Him and not understanding His ecstasy, he suddenly sat down in a quiet mood.

“The source of the sentiment of servitude is indeed Lord Balarama. The plenary expansions who follow Him are all influenced by that ecstasy.

“Lord Sankarshana, who is one of His incarnations, always considers Himself a devotee.” (Adi-lila 6.88-89)

“Another of His [Lord Balarama’s] incarnations, Lakshmana, who is very beautiful and opulent, always serves Lord Rama [another expansion or avatar of Lord Krishna].

“The Vishnu who lies on the Causal Ocean is an incarnation of Lord Sankarshana, and, accordingly, the emotion of being a devotee is always present in His heart.

“Advaita Acarya is a separate expansion of Him. He always engages in devotional service with His thoughts, words and actions.

“By His words He declares, ‘I am a servant of Lord Caitanya.’ Thus with His mind He always thinks, ‘I am His devotee.’

“With His body He worshiped the Lord by offering Ganges water and tulasi leaves, and by preaching devotional service He delivered the entire universe.

“Sesa Sankarsana, who holds all the planets on His heads, expands Himself in different bodies to render service to Lord Krishna.

“These are all incarnations of Lord Krishna, yet we always find that they act as devotees.

“The scriptures call them incarnations as devotees [bhakta-avataras]. The position of being such an incarnation is above all others.” (Adi-lila 6.90-97) So in this way, all of the expansions and avataras of God also act as Lord Krishna’s devotees to taste the sweetness of that mentality of servitude, and to give the example of how all other living beings can also taste that natural spiritual ecstasy of love for God.

“Baladeva, Laksmana, Advaita Acharya, Lord Nityananda, Lord Sesa and Lord Sankarshana taste the nectarean mellows of the transcendental bliss of Lord Krishna by recognizing Themselves as being His devotees and servants. They are all mad with that happiness, and they know nothing else.

“What to speak of others, even Lord Krishna Himself becomes thirsty to taste His own sweetness.

“He tries to taste His own sweetness, but He cannot do so without accepting the emotions of a devotee.

“Therefore, Lord Krishna accepted the position of a devotee and descended in the form of Lord Caitanya, who is complete in every respect.

“He tastes His own sweetness through the various emotions of a devotee. I have formerly explained this conclusion.

“All the incarnations are entitled to the emotions of devotees. There is no higher bliss than this.” (Adi-lila 6.105-111)

Therefore, we can see that amongst all souls, amongst all great sages, demigods, and even forms of the Divine, the greatest happiness and bliss for which we are always hankering stems from the inner nature of the soul to be connected with the Supreme Soul, God, Lord Krishna, through the mentality of offering our loving devotional service to Him. Thus, by natural spiritual activities performed by the soul, we regain our real identity as a spiritual part and parcel of the Supreme Spirit, connected through an ever-increasing exchange of love, which is the highest and deepest form of connection between two beings. This indeed is the perfection of any path of self-realization. Furthermore, it is the epitome and the secret of bhakti-yoga, which provides the most constant or continuous form of meditation on the Divine, and the means for the strongest union between the soul and the Supreme, which thus leads to the complete absorption in the ecstasy in that devotional exchange between the Infinite and the infinitesimal. For it is by this devotional mood wherein the Infinite becomes attracted and even submissive to the infinitesimal jiva soul, which is the relationship that provides for the highest happiness and ecstasy for the individual soul. This, therefore, is the perfection of all spiritual pursuits, indeed, the perfection of all life, and the easiest way to enter back into the highest levels of the spiritual dimension.

You may also like to read the article “The Secret of Bhakti Yoga,” another article along the same line of thought on my website.

Swastika: Its Real Meaning

           The Swastika is a holy sign and symbol from thousands of years ago. Practically, the only symbol that is more important in the Vedic tradition is the Sanskrit Om Symbol. It is an ancient symbol and has been found on sculptures from the early excavations of Mohenjo-Daro. As explained at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swastika_origin_theories#Origin_hypotheses: “Beyond its certain presence in the “proto-writing” symbol systems emerging in the Neolithic period (9500 BC), nothing certain is known about the symbol’s origin.” Some historians also believe that ancient forts were built in the shape that closely resembled the Swastika for reasons of defense because it would be difficult for an enemy to invade all parts of a fort in this shape.

        Unfortunately, in the West, it has a negative connotation because of its use by the Nazis from 1935. At that time it was seen as a black cross on a white circle, and now, amongst some sections of society, it is viewed as a symbol that represents a radical perspective. But the real meaning of the symbol, before it was used by the Nazis in Germany, was very different.

        The Swastika appears as a cross with branches bent at right angles, pointing in a clockwise direction. In essence, it represents well-being for all, and the circular nature of its points represents the repetitive nature of reincarnation, and also indicates the all-pervasiveness of the Absolute and the eternal nature of the Brahman, the spiritual dimension. If you draw a circle around it, it also symbolizes the Sun-god, Surya, as the ultimate source of light, heat and the energy of the universe that flows in all directions. The four arms of the Swastika stand for the four main directions, namely North, South, East, and West. The central point of the Swastika also represents the navel of Lord Vishnu from which Lord Brahma originated. This also indicates the expanding nature of the universe from a central point. The Swastika also represents the constantly changing world which evolves around an unchanging center, which is God.

        The four branches of the Swastika represent the fourfold principles of divinity, which include: 1) Brahma, as the four-faced secondary creator of the universe who spreads the sacred knowledge in four directions; 2) the four Vedas, namely the Rig, Sama, Yajur, and Atharva; 3) the four aims of life or Purusharthas, namely, Dharma (righteousness or sacred duty), Artha (acquiring wealth), Kama (fulfilling desires), and Moksha (liberation from any further cycles of birth and death); 4) the four ashramas of life which make the latter possible, namely Brahmacharya (student life of self-control), Grihastha (house-holder life), Vanaprastha (retired), and Sannyasa (life of renunciation); and 5) the four Varnas, or Brahman, Kshatriya, Vaishya, and Shudra.

        The word of Swastika in Sanskrit is composed of two words, “Su” (good) and “Asati” (to exists) which means “May good prevail.” Therefore, it also represents happiness, and is often displayed at celebrations, cultural and religious ceremonies, and at weddings or festivals of the Vedic tradition. The Swastika also is a symbol of auspiciousness, peace and prosperity. Thus, making the Swastika in the rangoli style with multicolored powder at such events as births, marriages, or any joyous holiday, indicates the wish for everyone’s welfare. It also represents happiness, safety, fertility, and prosperity. 

        Other cultures also have high regard for the Swastika. The Buddhists consider it as the symbol of the genesis of all flora. Jains also draw the Swastika in front of their deities when making offerings to them. In antiquity, the swastika was used extensively by Hittites, Celts and Greeks, among others. It occurs in other Asian, European, African and Native American cultures ­ sometimes as a geometrical motif, sometimes as a religious symbol.          

        From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swastika we also learn: “The swastika was a widely used Native American symbol. It was used by many southwestern tribes, most notably the Navajo. Among different tribes the swastika carried various meanings. To the Hopi it represented the wandering Hopi clans; to the Navajo it represented a whirling log ( tsil no’oli’ ), a sacred image representing a legend that was used in healing rituals.”

        The Navajo used the symbol to represent whirling logs.  From http://nativeamericanjewelrytips.wordpress.com/2010/06/10/native-american-symbol-whirling-log-swastika/  it is explained that “Whirling Logs are used in Navajo sand paintings during a healing or other type of ceremony. A sand painting is supposed to be a temporary piece of art which is destroyed after the ceremony is over. However sand painting designs are also used in prints and framed paintings, rugs and on jewelry. The Whirling Log symbol is associated with a narrative involving a man (sometimes called the Culture Hero) who takes a journey down the San Juan River in a hollowed out log canoe. During his adventure, he encounters whirlpools and a special event where the San Juan River meets the Colorado River. There he comes upon a whirling cross with Yei figures seated on the cross. From the yeis he learns much knowledge which he takes back to his people.”

 
        For these reasons you can often find the Swastika in many places around the world, and especially across the Indian subcontinent either carved, drawn, painted, or sculpted into the architecture of homes, shops, businesses, and places of worship. Many Vedic temples in India are decorated with Swastikas, or are also configured in the shape of it. It is probably the most respected and prevalent symbol one will see in India. It is indeed the symbol of prosperity and well-being. Therefore, we should all understand the real meaning of this ancient symbol.

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.

3. 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.

4. 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.   

5. A Dharmic leader must not afraid to be inventive and look at and try to use new ways to infuse the message of Vedic Dharma that can be fun, enjoying 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.

            6. 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.

            7. 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.

8. 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:

9. 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.

10. 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.

            11. 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 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.

            12. 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, Dharmists. Such access has often lead to greater degrees of harmony and understanding with the local community.

            From this mid-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. But it is also 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. 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. No Hindu left behind. 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. No Hindu is left behind. 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. After all, no Hindu, Dharmists or devotee left behind. 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 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 dying for? What else is the purpose of life other than to benefit the spiritual well-being of others?

13. 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.         

Other articles on Stephen’s website, or here on this blog, that may also be of interest connected with this article include:

American Hindus: How to Cultivate Your Culture in America

Creating a Spiritual Revolution in India For Protecting India’s Vedic Heritage

Why All Religions Are Not the Same

Hindus Must Stand Strong for Dharma

Time to Plan the Survival of Vedic Culture

Vedic Temples: Making Them More Effective

An Action Plan for the Survival of Vedic Culture

Opening Vedic Temples to Everyone

[This article is available at http://www.stephen-knapp.com]