Thursday, March 31, 2011

Radhanath Swami on Surrender in Love

Surrender, in the material sense, means to lose. For example, Mahatma Gandhi did his nonviolent protest and Subhash Chandra Bose very expertly balanced it by declaring violent war on the British - the British surrendered and said “you can make India your independent state.” But that is not what the British wanted; they lost. India won, Britain lost. Similarly, the allied forces headed by Russia and America won, whereas Germany and Japan lost and surrendered. So, the general notion is that to surrender means to lose; something very undesirable, by force. But in Sanskrit, the meaning of the word saranagati is something very different. Saranagati is the most positive expression of our gratitude and love. It’s the most joyful experience of the heart. There cannot be love without such surrender (saranagati). Love is not selfish. Love is selfless. Love is for the beloved.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Radhanath Swami on Eternal Nature

Sanatana dharma means reality. That our eternal nature is to serve, to serve God. And in that service we realize love, God’s Love which is the essential aspiration of every living being to find the pleasure of perfect love. It’s why people murder, it’s why people rob and steal, it’s why people get drunk and intoxicated with drugs, it’s why people go to the race tracks and win or lose money, it’s why people go to the cinemas and watch television, it’s why people give charity to others, it’s why people are looking for a husband or a wife or a girlfriend or a boyfriend, it’s why people want children, it’s why people want relations. If you examine every motivation that every human being has is the desire for pleasure or the reaction to the frustration of not getting pleasure. It’s all connected simply to pleasure. And there’s only one pleasure that can satisfy the heart, that is the pleasure of love. If you have everything else but you don’t have people who love you and you don’t have people you love your life is miserable, it’s lonely, it’s empty. So this is reality and we all have that in common.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Radhanath Swami on Shaved Head and Real Life

The devotees dress the way they do to help remind themselves of their true identity. It’s not that one has to do these external things, but those who do should be understood in proper context. For example, why do some devotees shave their heads? Shaving the head is symbolic. It represents death to the ego because beautiful hair is something that gives people beauty and prestige. In all great religions, whether Christian monks or Buddhist monks or Hindu monks or Vaishnava monks, to shave the head is an expression of the death to the ego so as to start one’s real life as a servant of God.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Radhanath Swami on Death As Eternal Life

How we perceive even death itself is a matter of our realization. There is an example where a cat is compared to death. When a mouse is in the mouth of the cat, it sees the cat as death personified. It’s horrible, it’s fearful. But when a little kitten is in the mouth of mother cat, it sees the cat as the most protective loving mother. It’s the same cat. Perception changes according to the particular state of consciousness. So Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita, “I am death personified.” Ultimately through the power of time we all have to meet death, and Krishna says, "I am time personified." So if we are a devotee, we see the love, the grace and the beauty of God in life as well as in death.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Radhanath Swami on The Foundation of Real Knowledge

The very foundation of real knowledge is character, the qualities that we possess. And the foundational characteristics of a devotee are simplicity, humility, forgiveness, tolerance, and a very sincere eagerness to serve the Lord and the devotees, to serve the people in general, to serve all living beings, and to chant the holy names.

What is the use if we have so much knowledge but we cannot even cooperate with each other? Cooperation requires forgiveness, tolerance and respectfulness, but it pleases guru and God. Even though we may be possessing knowledge and may be performing austerities, but if we do not cooperate, it is very displeasing to guru and God. That actually undoes all the things we are trying to develop. From a spiritual perspective, God and guru don't care about our austerities and our knowledge, if we cannot cooperate with each other. The foundation of bhakti is good character. Philosophy has little or no value if it does not produce good character.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Radhanath Swami on Reign in Hell or Serve in Heaven?

In the association of people who have faith, the natural faith which is within our heart awakens. Real faith is not something that is imposed upon us. Just like a seed, it’s awakened from within in the proper environment. A seed, if watered properly, grows into a beautiful flower. So, in order to have such strong faith that we are actually willing to take great apparent risks, sadhu sanga is most important. Sadhu sanga means association of devoted people. Without such association, the campaign of maya or illusion which is all around us directly or indirectly keeps telling us that it’s better to reign in hell than to serve in heaven; that it’s better to be the proprietor and enjoyer in this world of illusion than to be a servant in the ecstatic realm of dedication and devotion to the Lord.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Radhanath Swami on Faith

No amount of study of scriptures, austerity or charity can help us know God. The only way is to follow the footsteps of saintly people. When we have faith in that, that faith shows us the way. But is faith unscientific? Science too is based on faith. Scientists have faith in other scientists. Faith is there in every moment of our life. Even when we breathe there is unconscious faith that by inhaling air we will get the oxygen required for nourishment. But to break the limitations of senses, mind, intelligence and ego, there has to be a different kind of faith - faith in the examples from the lives of great saints.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Radhanath Swami on Practicing the Philosophy

Putting philosophy into practice, to the best of our abilities – that’s real spiritual life. Some people get so caught up in the mere intellectual aspect of philosophy that they don’t really take any of it seriously. They just want to know more and more, without applying any of it in their lives.

But even if we know only the few fundamental principles of spiritual life, and seriously apply them in our lives, follow them ardently, without hypocrisy or ulterior motives, we will attain spiritual perfection – of this there is no doubt.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Radhanath Swami on Love the Center of Existence

Loving the centre of all existence, God, spontaneously enables us to love every living being because every living being is a part of God. When we realize the love for God that is within our own heart then we naturally see everyone as our kith and kin, being parts of God just as every ray emanating from the sun is a part of the sun. The inseparable part of God can be seen in every living being regardless of gender, nationality or caste. Once we understand our own relationship with God, we can see that every living being has similar relationships. This sense of commonality unifies us and there is love and compassion towards every one.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Radhanath Swami on We All Are Pure

Essentially, we are all pure. We are all eternal, full of knowledge, and full of bliss. Because we are all parts of God. We simply need to recognize, realize, and experience this very essence of our being. Then we’ll find, in every situation of life, the unlimited pure ecstasy of love of God. This love is not sentimental bodily attraction, but the true pure eternal love of the soul towards God.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Radhanath Swami on Secure Investments

Whatever efforts we make in this world will be evaporated by time. We make money, we lose money, we get fame, we lose fame. Whatever we get will be eventually lost. That is the power of time. But any advancement we make in Krishna consciousness - just sweeping the floor, just appreciating other devotees for what they have done, just putting a single flower on the string of a garland, or just chanting the holy name once sincerely - the benefit is never lost; it is forever. It is the only secure investment. We are told that our investments in the stock market, banks and various financial enterprises are secure, but it is all illusion because everything will be taken away at the time of death. Or many other situations may happen in between. It is for certain that we lose everything. There are only two things that are certain in this world, absolutely certain:
1. Anyone who is born will die, and
2. Any investment that we make in devotion is never ever lost.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Radhanath Swami on Knowledge of the Heart

Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita: “I am the source of all material and spiritual worlds, everything emanates from Me. The wise who knows this perfectly engage in My loving service and worship Me with all their hearts.” Wisdom is the knowledge of the heart, not of the brain. The heart, and not the brain, is the seat of our consciousness.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Radhanath Swami on Surrender

The spirit by which one can take the shelter of the Lord is that of humility, gratefulness and tolerance. It is by offering all respects to others and by not expecting respect for oneself that one can really surrender to the Lord. Surrender is not merely doing what one is told. That is only the superficial meaning. Deep down, surrender means to have no ego. It means to have the kind of humility that makes one unconditionally the property of the Lord - regardless of the situation. One who surrenders accepts an embrace or a rejection with equal grace. One who surrenders welcomes adversities and views them as blessings that help in furthering the intensity and sincerity of seeking the shelter of the Lord and His holy names.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Radhanath Swami on Sunshine Through the Dispersed Cloud

The soul’s nature is to surrender to God. If it’s our desire to enjoy independent of the Lord, he covers our consciousness with a cloud of illusion. Thus clouded, we forget your relationship with him and think that we are a material body. The whole material existence is operating under this cloud of illusion. By chanting the holy names and associating with devotees, we dissipate this cloud. Then, our true nature as eternal loving servants of God shines forth – just like the sunshine bursts through a dispersed cloud.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Radhanath Swami on Pride and Anger

There may be many great obstacles - oceans of obstacles - in the paths of devotees, but they will easily cross over the ocean of all obstacles because they will be protected by the Lord. The devotees have no pride, and where there is no pride there can be no anger. On the other hand, those who do not surrender to the Lord, will easily be consumed and drowned by this ocean. Somehow or the other, if by the power of their austerity they cross this whole ocean of material obstacles they become proud due to that. And when they become proud, they easily become angry. They may cross the whole ocean of material temptations and obstacles but will drown in the little puddle - the size of the hoof print of a calf - which represents their anger. The persons who are mystics but are not devoted to the Lord lose all the results of all of their austerities and mysticism. Those who take shelter of Him achieve His divine mercy and are infallible.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Radhanath Swami on Greatest of All Time

Throughout history, who were the greatest people that ever lived? Were they the politicians, the atheistic scientists, the athletes? No, they were the saints who dedicated their lives, their souls, everything, to truth. They were willing to sacrifice their whole lives to enlighten people so that they may love God. The saints of India, the saints of Christianity, the saints of Islam, all lived completely pure lives. They were completely peaceful. And they were completely intoxicated - intoxicated with love for God. They spoke their realizations of God with such illuminated hearts, with such realization, that they transformed lives of millions.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Radhanath Swami on United for the Pleasure of God

When everyone is perfectly united in activities for the pleasure of God, then ultimately everyone is happy. Why is this so? When we water the root of the tree, every part of the tree is gets water. So too for the devotees - when they satisfy God, He gives them happiness from within their hearts. That happiness is beyond anything of this world. God reciprocates with the love of His devotees.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Radhanath Swami on Anger as a Wonderful Tool

The source of anger and lust is pride. In a subtle form, if there is wrath, that means there must also be pride and lust. Externally, someone may have controlled his lust but it may come out in the form of wrath on another level. They are different expressions of the same attachment within our hearts. Anger is a mode of ignorance. Lust is a mode of passion. But if anger is manifested in the service of the Lord, then it is transcendental to the modes of nature. If we are angry when someone blasphemes the Lord or our spiritual master, then it is actually a sign of devotion, not a sign of ignorance. Also the anger of a spiritual master at his disciples is not out of unfulfilled frustrated lust; that anger is an effective instrument to show compassion and teach important lessons to the disciples. So anger is very important and wonderful tool for the devotees, if it is used free from pride and lust.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Radhanath Swami on Striving for Truth

Is anyone ever really satisfied by whatever fame, prestige, or accumulation of wealth he achieves? There are many statistics about how even the wealthiest people in the wealthiest parts of the wealthiest countries in the world spend their money on psychiatrists, take sleeping and antidepressant pills, and even commit suicide. They are so much dependent on intoxicants just to try to ease the frustrations of their life. Fame, power, material wealth, etc. cannot bring happiness. But still, we are living for these very things whose culmination is nothing but death. It’s all taken away. This is not pessimism. This is simply reality. Transformation means to actually develop the proper attitude to strive for what is real and true.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Radhanath Swami on Academic Advancement

The simple question of who I am is rarely taken seriously by people in today’s world because everyone is greatly conditioned with conceptions of who they are, that they are this body and the designations of these bodies are theirs. And people accept those things that have a relation to their bodies as theirs.

Very few ask the question: But really who am I? A very simple example can be given: we don’t say "I hand" or "I leg" or "I eye", we say "My hand", "My leg", "My eye". So if this is mine then who am I? Who is the possessor? What is the difference between living body and dead body? Consciousness! What is the nature of consciousness? So much is taught and known about this material nature but what do I know about the nature of life? Out of all the thousands of subjects taught in schools there is not a single one that informs people of what is the difference between living body and a dead body. Who am I?

Yes, academic education could be very useful but it should be developed on the foundation of knowledge of the Truth. The example is given that, if I have the wrong premise then what ever I develop from that premise will be wrong. If I say four plus four is twelve, I can develop hundreds and thousands of equations and if they are all based on that premise they will all be wrong. Similarly we have developed so many philosophies, so many sciences, we have made so much amazing academic development but what is the premise if we do not know who we are; how will it bring us real fulfillment or real purpose in life?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Radhanath Swami on Transformation of Consciousness

Death means transformation. On the gross physical level, death just means transformation of material elements. It’s not that the elements of the body cease to exist; they may burn to ashes if put into fire, or they may decay to become dust if buried into earth. They are just transformed from one form of matter into another. Similarly, death of the ego means transformation of our consciousness - and in that transformation, there is real life.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Radhanath Swami on The Material Propaganda

People in this world are indoctrinated and brainwashed by the daily newspapers, televisions and radios, cinemas, hoardings, so many novels and other literature, and a whole culture where people don’t care anymore whether material life is true or not. People are concerned not with facts or logical systematic reasoning but with jargon, with how things are presented. They don’t care if material life is true, they want to know if it is "cool", if it is strong, if it is courageous, if it is fun! Keep on bombarding them with all this jargon and they will be kept trapped in the material network of illusion forever. For example, if we hear a thing enough times, we will believe it, even if there is really no reality to it. That is what material propaganda is all about - the influence of others can change our perception of reality. We assume things to be true just because they have always been considered that way by so many people.

They say when the blind lead the blind they both fall into the ditch. The principle that we are speaking of molds our lives every day with our conception of reality, our conception of what is really valuable in life and what we should really pursue in life. We are told that looking nice, wearing a certain type of fashion, making some money, getting a nice house, getting some prestige in society will make us happy. But is this reality? Is this true? Or do we just believe that because so many other people believe it?

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Radhanath Swami on What We Are Meant For

Real peace is to understand that we are meant for the enjoyment of God. That our constitutional nature is to serve. Sacrifice is the quality of real love; not to take, accumulate, or possess, but to give and serve. That’s a spiritual quality, that’s our nature, and that’s where we find real happiness.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Radhanath Swami on The Purpose of Knowledge

Knowledge itself is of value only if it helps us to develop the qualities of a pure devotee, otherwise knowledge is a disturbance. We may be studying shastras from prestigious Vedic schools, we may memorize so many Sanskrit verses, we may be studying all the wonderful and amazing courses for preaching, or we may be studying the scriptures on our own. We may master so much philosophy and logic, and we may even be able to conquer others in debate, but knowledge has its real value only if it helps us to develop the qualities of a pure devotee.

These qualities are supposed to awaken within our hearts. Not only is our philosophy meant to defend against atheistic and materialistic philosophies that come from other people in the world, but the knowledge is also meant to conquer the false ego which is within our heart.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Radhanath Swami on Freedom and Slavery

Freedom means to surrender to the truth. To serve the mania of the society of this world is slavery. But such is the ignorance of this world that we think that slavery to our mind, senses, and ego is freedom, while living a spiritually oriented life is slavery. To us, following the rules and regulations of spiritual life feels like slavery. We think that spiritual life means giving up so many nice things in life that give so much enjoyment. But, from the perspective of reality, to be addicted to all these things - which simply infatuate and perpetuate the power of false ego - is slavery.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Radhanath Swami on purification

I am the king, you are the subject, do you not understand the king is the representative of God? You must die! The King was about to order his death. He was so angry. Jada Bharath just stood there. He was not disturbed or elated by the king's actions. He was simply seeing it as the divine arrangement of Krishna. Finally, King Rahugana said "say something". Then Jada Bharath thought here is an opportunity to preach. He began to speak. My dear King you are thinking that you are the king and I am the servant. But this is all an illusion because in the next birth I may be the king and you may be the servant. Who are you? This is all a great illusion that you are thinking you are the body and you are thinking I am my body. We are not these bodies. This is all a mental concoction. The greatest enemy is our own mind. In fact our mind is our only enemy. Because our mind is constantly accepting (sankalpa) one thing and rejecting (vikapla) another thing on the basis of bodily concept of life for sense gratification. Therefore the purpose of human life is to become purified of the mind's tendency for enjoyment.

In every stage of life, we should be striving and struggling for purification. We should not be concerned with the external appearance of how things work out for us in this world. We should only be concerned with how we are being purified by whatever circumstance comes into our life. Whether there is failure or success, happiness or distress, honor or dishonor, pleasure or pain, a devotee simply sees every situation as an opportunity to become purified. He is not so concerned with how things work out from the sensual perspective. He is only concerned with the purification that takes place from that circumstance and the purification takes place to the extent we accept every opportunity as an opportunity to serve Krishna and serve His devotees.

tat-paratvena nirmalam
hṛṣīkeṇa hṛṣīkeśa-
sevanaḿ bhaktir ucyate

CC Madhya 19.170; BRS 1.1.12; Narada Pancharatra

That the same mind and senses that are now causing us due to mental concoction and attachment so much entanglement the same mind and senses when engaged in Krishna’s service, Hrishikesh's service, becomes the very basis of our purification. Therefore the devotee’s only purpose in life is to engage in the service of the Lord for his purification. A devotee is not concerned what my occupation is and what my occupation is not. What this person thinks about me or what this person does not think about me. A devotee does not think how much money I have and how much money I do not have. A devotee is simply thinking in terms of how I can best purify my life. Without purification even if you are very materially successful in this world, your whole life is wasted. All of your endeavors are simply creating a deeper more miserable condition of bondage. Therefore every stage in every circumstance of life from the time of conception to the time one’s body is put on the fire of cremation the human being should always be striving and struggling to purify his mind and purify his senses and he should have really no other objective in life other than that. And the most sublime and powerful means of purification is always think of Krishna; to always think of Krishna and always do the will of Krishna.

The will of Krishna is coming down through disciplic succession, through the spiritual masters, through the great acharyas. When they speak to us we can understand they are speaking the will of Krishna and we learn to always think of Krishna by acting according to their instructions. Sometimes the great souls tell us so many duties we must perform or they tell us through their representatives they are telling us so many duties we must perform. Understand that by performing these duties properly by both internally and externally we are being trained to always think of Krishna and in this life and in the time of death if we can learn in this proper service attitude to always think of Krishna then we return back home back to godhead. You see unless you have a humble service attitude you cannot always think of Krishna. Thinking of Krishna is simply not based on your ability to control your mind. No!

Krishna says in the Gita

sarvasya cāhaḿ hṛdi sanniviṣṭo
mattaḥ smṛtir jñānam apohanaḿ ca
vedaiś ca sarvair aham eva vedyo
vedānta-kṛd veda-vid eva cāham

BG 15.15

He within the heart is the source of remembrance, knowledge and forgetfulness. We can only remember Krishna when it is Krishna’s desire to manifest Himself within your mind. It is not by your endeavor and Krishna manifests Himself to the humble devotee who is in the proper service attitude. One may be very scholarly and always be talking about Krishna but if he is proud and does not have a proper service attitude at that time of the greatest need Krishna will not be there. At the time of death when your whole body is full of pain and full of bewilderment and endless distractions all around you and within you it is not possible to think of Krishna unless Krishna reveal to you at that time and Krishna reveals Himself according to the humility of our attitude to serve.

H.H.Radhanath Swami

Radhanath Swami on Going from Illusion to Reality

According to the Vedic system, there are five ways of acquiring knowledge. The first is through direct perception of the mind and senses. But that is very faulty! Another is indirect knowledge, receiving understanding from higher authorities who know more than us. The third stage is application of that knowledge to gradually develop understanding and realization. The next step is revealed knowledge, knowledge that is beyond the mind and the senses that is revealed through the spiritual master, saintly persons and scriptures or through divine revelation. And the perfection is transcendental knowledge and realization of the spiritual essence of life where we can actually perceive the presence of God with our spiritual senses everywhere and in everything, where we can actually can perceive and participate in the beautiful pastimes of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This is the process of going from illusion to reality.