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Godhead is light. Nescience is darkness. Where there is Godhead there is no nescience

January 2006

________________- -.J.,.",.,.*.J, CHEAP INCARNATIONS


olice Officer C laims To Be An Incarnatio n of Radha" thus screamed th e h eadlines of a n ews website. O ne highly placed police officer in the state of Uttar Pradesh h as recently claimed to be an incarnation of Radha (the consort of Lord Kr~"a). Therefore he h as decided to wear women's clothing and make -up as a part of his worship. Ofco urse, his wife would have nothing to do with his charade and she strongly criticized the whole act. Who are these people? Are they worshipers of God or are they against Him? Vaishnavas, devotees of Lord Kr~l).a) use the term prakrtasahajiya to refer to persons who imitate the signs of prema, pure love for God, while still addicted to the low-class pleasures of illicit sex and intoxicat ion. The sahajiya imagine that they feel the divine emotions of Krs"a and His dearest devotee, Srimati Radharani. Yet they don't understand that before we can savor the pleasure sh ared by Radha a nd K""a, we must rid ourselves of lustful desires for sensual pleasure. The word sah aja means "easy." A prakyta-sahajiya wants the bliss of spi ritual life without the struggle to attain it. And the word prakrta means "materialistic." Because the sahajiyas forgo the standard disciplines of bhakti-yoga, the d ivine love they apparently sh ow n ever ge ts beyond material lust. The prakrta-sahajiyas mistake lust-the disease of the soul-for spiritual advancement. So instead of curing lust, they wind up cultivating it. Bhagavad-gita (16.23-24) recommends that we follow siis tra- vidhi, the directions of the scriptures, to purify ourselves of lust. Sastra-vidhi especially calls for us to give up meat-eating, illicit sex, gambling, and intoxication and to chant the Hare K!-,,~I,la maha-mantra. This gradually readies us for raga-marga, the path of natural attraction to Krs"a, rese rved for highly advanced devotees. The prakrta-sahaji ya , however, go easy on the scriptural regulations. They stay attached to materialistic enjoyment of the senses. But this sen se enjoyment blinds them, and th erefore their ideas of Kr~I,la, Kr~I,lajs devotees, Kr~I,la's service, and love of K,."a are but a fault y creation of th eir lower nat ure. The sixteenth centur y saw the advent o f SriCaitan ya Mahaprabhu and His movement of sankirtana, congregational chanting of the holy n ames of God. In a typical social blur,

the sahaji yas who h ad arisen from the Buddhists and merged with the Sufis n ow san g and danced on the fringes of th e sankirtana movement. There th ey celebrated their mundane sexual mysticism with song and dance. This, of course, was a perversion of the sankirtana movement. So Lord Caitanya and His followers rejected the sahaj iyas. This is evident in S ri Caitanya -caritamrta, which tells us how strictly Lord C aitanya followed the rules of celibacy and how sternly He dealt with those devotees who broke them. By the 1700's, however, the great movement begun by Lord Caitanya appea red to have become corrupted by the caste gosvamis and the ritualistic smarta brahmanas. This offered a chance for the sahajiyas to influence the common people, and various priikrta-sahajiyii sects became popular. In the next century, therefore, Srila Bhakt ivinoda Thakura took pains to dis tinguish the pure teachings of Lord Caitanya from prakrtasah aj i ya perversions . Fo llo wing his exa mple , Sri la Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati strongly opposed those who deviated from Lord Caitanya's teachings. And Srila Prabhupada kept to this same strong, uncompromising course. As Srila Pra bhupada mentions in his commentary o n Cai tanyacaritamrta, the sahajiyiis Hindulge in sense gratificat ion in the name of devotional service." In this way they ((throw mud into transcendence." They churn their materialistic emotions into a state of sentimental ecstasy, and this they take to be spiritual. But the first step in spiritual advancement is to distinguish between spirit and matter. The sahajiyas confuse the two. ('The name of Kr~I,la is all-powerful," the sahajiyas say. "So the spiritual state of a guru and disciple at initiat ion doesn't matter, because the holy name works by its own power. There's no need to tell anyone to follow rules-let them ch ant H are K""a, smoke , drink, gamble, and h ave sex . The h oly name will cleanse them of sinful react ions." Genuine spiritual masters reject such notions as offenses to the holy name of K""a. The h oly na me of the Lord is certainly all-powerful, just as a fire is powerful. But fire can give life, and fire can kill. So too, the h oly name of K""a, properly ch anted under th e guidance of a spiritual mas ter, burns up the devotee's lingering material attachments. It nourish es h is spiri tual life. But if the power of the h oly name is used as a tool to mix spiritual (please turn to page 3)




January 2006 •







Founded 1944. Vol. 3 No. 23. January 2006

_~-m& fOUNDER (under the d irection of His Divine Grace Sri Srimad Bhaktisiddhanta Sa rasvati Prabhupada) His Di\'ineGrace A. C. Bhuktindunta Swami Prabhupadu BTG INDIA: EDITOR Syamananda Oilsa PUllLISHER Yud hi~thira Diisa (UjwaIJajoo) • PROD UCTION Sat Cit Ananda Odsa (Sanjiv Maheshwari). Sundar Rupa Dasa (Sudarshan Sapaliga) GENERAL MANAGER (CIRCULATION) Panduranga Dasa (Rajen dra kumar Pujari) -ACC OUNTS Sahad eva Dilsa (S .P. Maheshwari) • SUBSCRIBER SERVICES Manjari Devi Dilsi (Mira Singh)

EDITORIAL OFFICES Send editoria l correspondence to Back to Godhead, 33 lanki KUlir, Next to State Bank of H yderabad, J uhu, Mumbai 400 049, India. Tel: (022) 26 18 1718. Fru" (022) 2618 4827. SUBSCRIPTIONS Back to Godhead is published twelve times a year. For a one-year subscription: Send Rs. 120 to Back to Godhead, 33 Janki Kutir, Next to State Bank of Hyderabad, Juhu. Mumbai 400 049, India. SUBSCRIBER SERVICE To change your address or clear upany questions about your subsc ription, write to BTG Service Center, 33 Janki Kutir, Nexllo State Bank of Hyderabad, Juhu, Mumbai 400 0 49. T eL: (022) 2618 1718 . Fax: (022) 2618 4827. E-mail: We can answer your questions faster if you send a recent mailing LabeL or invoice Allow eight weeks for changes to show up on your mailing label.

FEATURES Saved from Death ............... 2 The remedy for the fact of life most of us don't like to think about. A lecture by by His Divine Grace AC. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupilda

Great Vai~t:lava Women ............. 8 Encounter at


......... 14

Fifty centuries ago, during a fierce war, Lord Knew and one of His pure devotees achieved a uniqu e intimacy.

Changing Bodies ........ 20 Every seven years, scientists say, all the cells in you r body have changed, including the cells in your brain. Yet something is constant.

Srila Prabhupada Speaks Out .......... 22 The "Secular State"

Spiritual Places ...............24 Alarnath : Abode of S/Jiritual Longing

Centers in India ......... 30 Vai~t:lava

Calender ........ .31

PRIN'I1NG MegnaGraphicsPvt. Ltd., Mumbai. © 2005 The Bhaktivedanta Book Tr ust International. ALL rights reserved. (Trustee fo r the Bhaktived anta Book Trust: Jayadvaita Swami.) ISSN: 0005-3643. PubLished fo r The Bhaktived anta Book Trust by UjwaL Jajoo , 33, Janki Kutir, Next to State Bank of Hyderabad, Juhu, Mumbai and printed by him at Magna Graphics Pvc Ltd. 101-C& D, Gov1. Indust rial Estate, Kandivli (W), Mumbai-400 067, India. Ed ito r Syamananda Dasa. Sri Sri RadhaGopinathaTemple,Chowpatty, Mwnbai400007, India.




January 2006

Editorial ....................... 1 C heap Incarnations

~ Ir--------=L=--e----::t:-::-t-e-rs-----, K rsna Loves Cows Why docs Krsna love cows1

Ra vinder Singh Via rh e Incemet Our Reply: JUSt as an ord ina ry huma n bein g mal' have affectio n for certa in animals. so does Kr s n a . He is the supreme person. and he cakes g reat pleasure playing the role of a cO \\~lerd boy. His affection for the cows is part of his e ternal cranscende ntal personality.

Fearless, Yet Practical Please enlighten me as to th e meaning of the word "safety " in Bhagavad-gi ta 2,45. Krsna says that o ne sho uld be free fro m all anxieties fo r gai n a nd safety. How does o nc wa lk down th e crecr. o r cross a busy intersect ion, or even drive a ca r wi thout iJcing anxiolls for o ne's safety? Especially these day when o ne is atraid there may be a terroris t on every street corner. And how does a brave soldier. whether o n the battlefield <as Arjuna) or in modern-day I raq or even

in a bad neigh borhood. become fearless. yet practical, kno wing there is Ctdange r

at every step"! Bruce GatU!n

Via rh e InU!mer Our R eply : We may make practical arrangements for o ur afety. but we should not be an xious about Our safcty

because 3S souls we know we can never be destroyed an d as devotees we kno w will protect li S. Highly adva nced devotees have such confid e nce in Krsna's protection chat they do n Ot bo ther to pr o t ect themselves. That was true of Prahlada Maha ra ja. whom the Lo rd pro tected from at least fi ve a ttempts o n h is life by his father and h is father's associates. It was al 0 true of Ambarisa Maharaja , chat Krsna

wh om the Lord , usil''II g his own di sc

weapon. pro<cctoo from the fiery demon c rea ted by D ur vasa Muo i. uc h ad va nced spiritual states are attained by

constanr ly e n gag ing in rh e Lout's service.

T he Power of C han ting Controlling t h e mind is ne xt t o impossible . I am chanting Ha re Krsna as you ad \'ise. but in vai n. as the re is no change in my mind.

Samra, Roy Via the Inceme, Our Reply: Yo u may think that there is no c hange in your mind. but in fact the mind beco mes purified by the sound of rhe holy name. o mccimes, especially in the begi nn i n g. the m in d o bjects to being co ntrolled and actually ca uses mo re trouble t han usual. But in th e lo ng run it cools o ut, and the end result is tha t the holy n ame pacifies t he mind. When we begin to clea n a room. we st ir up the dust, and it appears morc dirty. But a we remove the dust. it becomes clean . So be patient and go o n wi t h the ch a nting. a nd you will see that yo ur minci becomes peaceful. Consider rhat the mind has ragoo unco ntrolled fo r millions of births, 0 it cakes a Ihdc time to control it. But by t he grace of the holy name it can be done within o nc lifetime. and even sooner if we are very sincere. Try a lways to pay attention to the sound. 1'\ 0

macre r h o w h:l rcl ir is or h o w

successful you mayor mal' not be. JUSt b)' making the a[[empt to concentrate, yo u a re becoming succes ful. Suprem e Power Defi ned \Vhat do yo u mean by "supreme power"? Pleaseexplai n in a way chat I ca n imagine it.


Via rhe Imemel Our Reply: Generalll' we think f nature as being a ll-powerful. For example. who can StOp the winds of a hurricane, th e erupting o f a volcano, o r the movement of an earthquake! But in reality, Krsna, o r God. is in control of th e laws of nature.


h is power b ~ uprem.e::. J Ie ca n c reate::

universes, mai ntain them, and destroy them in d ue course. 9

(Colltilllled from page 1) life with intoxicatio n and illicit sex , the effect is ru inou . Anotherfe-dture of t he sahaji)"d art; IUde is its perverse "llUmility" <really JUSt elwy) . T he sa haj iyas consider t hemselves simple a nd modest and t he Strict devotees hallghty. Fo r example. ahajiyas th ink tha t a devotee who becomes known fo r spreadi ng Kr~ ,,"a consciousness h as fallc n into the gripof name and fame. A devo<cc who refutes atheists and mate ri alists is pro ud. Con grega tional sin gi n g of the Lord's ho ly names is ,h ow)'. Devotees fu ssy about gi ving up i1Hcic sex , smo king, and other harmless enjoyments are fanatical and inwardly attached to these pleasures. ahajiyas look down on devotees who t ake disciplesand trai n them in scriptural principles. The scriptures. th e sa haj il'3s think. o ppose true devotion. 0 th e snh ajiyns either interpret the scriptures in chei r own wa}' or write new scriptures ( 0 prove chat sex and into xicatio n pro· mo te rat h er t h a n o bstruct spiritual awareness. In summary. l'rakrta-sMaji)'as are stubborn sense enjoyers. n,ey may have calcots fo r singing , dancing, acti ng, speaking, joki ng. and seducing women o r men. n ,ey may try to pass off these calents as spiritual ace mplishments. And they mal' dress as K ~l)a conscious devotees. But in fact they can't see the difference beIween offensive a nd pure cha nti ng of the ho ly name. ll1cy takc worldly scrvice to be devo<ionaiservice. lust to be love . and illusion to be spirituality. ®

- Syamananda Diisa Hare KrI1~a , tlare Krl1~a. Hare Hare, Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare

Krl1~a KrI1~a,



JsulIlnry 2006 •



dA路 rFf)

are called diwali insects. In the evening, before sunset, you will see one, two, or three of them. By midnight they have increased to thousands and millions. And in the morning, at the end of the night, you will find heaps of dead insects. This material world is called m,tyuloka , "th e place where everyone dies." But there are different durations of life. One creature li ves for fou r minutes, anoth er for ten minutes, ano ther for a hundred minutes, an oth er for a hundred days, and human beings for at most a hundred years . But on other planers there are higher li ving entities, demigods, who live much longer than human beings. For example, from the scriptures we understand that the people on the moon planet live up to ten thousand years, according to heavenly calculation. In each planet the calculation of time is different O n the moon, one day is equal to one of our yea rs. So, since the living beings on the moon live for ten thousand of their years, just imag ine how many of our years they live! But Bhagavan Sri K"l).a informs us that wherever yo u may go, Yamaraja, the controller of death, is ready. H e is a rep resentat ive of Kr~t).a , just as a magistrate is a representative of the government. So Yamaraja is ready to judge you as soon as you finish your term of life. Generally, at the end of life people become disgusted. They do not wish to live anymore. The body is old. always diseased, rheumatic pains . .. there is no life, or an old man there is no material enjoyment. He wants to enjoy, but he cannot. In th is regard there is a nice story about a Mogul emperor wh o lived in Indi a in the fifteenth centur y. H e h ad very intelligent ministers, and they would reply to whatever inquiries h e made of them. Once he inquired, "My dear minister, h ow long does sex desi re last?" The minister replied, "Up to the point of death." The emperor said, "No, no. How can it be?" ((Yes, an old man has sex desire, but he cannot satisfy it because his instrument has become dull and useless. But the desire is there."




January 2006

"I don't believe it," said the emperor. ÂŤI am not satisfied with this answer." "All right sir, I will satisfy you." So, one day the minister came to the emperor and said, "Sir, please come with me immediately, and bring your young daughter with you." The emperor immediately prepared to go with the minister, taking his young daughter with him. H e asked, "Where are we going?" The minister said, "You will come to know." As they approach ed a house where a very old man was on his death bed, the



Yamaraja, the controller of death, is a representative of Kr~-:aa, just as a magistrate is a representative of the government. So Yamaraja is ready to judge you as soon as you finish your term of life.

minister requested the emperor, "While entering the room, kindly try to see rhe face of the dying man." The emperor was very intelligent and when h e looked at the old man's face, h e noticed that the man was looking toward the young girl, not the emperor. So he said, "Yes, I have your answer." So, the desire to enjoy is the root ca use of o ur coming to this material world. Enjoyment is there in the spiritual world, but th ere th e enj oyer is Kr~t).a, and everyon e else is enjoyed by Him. Here everyone wants to be the supreme enjoyer, and therefore they must come to this material world, mrtyu-Ioka, and suffer repeated birth and death. The aim of life is to stop this repetition of

birth and death. But the so-called scientists do not know this. Here it is said that human beings are k~udrayu~am . "having a short duration of life." Although human beings have a shorr duration of life in compar ison to that of beings on oth er planets, still rhey have a mission to fulfill in this life. In animal life the consciousness is not developed, but in the human form of life, although it is perish able (adhruvam), it is full of meaning (arthadam). As Prahlada Mah araja says, kaumara acaret prajfto dharman bhagavatiin iha durlabham manu~aril janma tad apy adhruvam arthadam "From childhood one sho uld practice bhagavat-dharma, or Kr~l).a consciousness. That is the mission of this human form of life, which is very difficult to attain and temporary. Just become Kr~t).a conscious . C hant Hare K"l).a. " Na r ad a M uni h a d t a ught Prahl ada Maharaja, so he was convinced that his only business was to make advancement in Kr~t).a con sciousn ess by ch an ting the Hare Kr~t).a mantra. Prahlada Maharaja was the son of the demon Hiral).yakasipu. Hiral). yakas ipu did not appoi nt any teach er to instruct Prahlada Maharaja about Kr~t).a consciousness, but when Prahlada was in the womb of his moth er. Narada Muni instructed her about Kr~t).a consciousness. She had to live for some time in the care of Narada Muni when her husband was out being defeated by the demigoos. So the woman was in anxiety about when her husband would come back. At that time t h e child Prahlada was within her womb, so sh e begged a benediction from Narada: "Sir, kindly arrange it that as long as my husband is absent I will not give birth to this child." Narada Muni said, "All right" Then, a lthough Narada Muni taught h er about Kr?t).a consciousn ess, her mind was absen t because sh e was thinking of h er husband. But the child within h er womb heard the instructions. This is stated in Srimad-Bhagavatam. Later, a friend asked Prahl ada Maharaja: "My dear Prah lada, we are being taught by the same teachers as you are. Where from have you learned all this ~





nice instruction ?" Prahlada replied, "This instruction was given by Narada to my mother, but since she is a woman, she has forgotten it. But I remember.I) So, people should be taught that the real problem of human life is how to stop janma-mrtyu-jara-vyadhi-birth, death, old age, and disease. This is real education. For example, here we are speaking on the Srlmad -Bhagavatam. The subject matter is h ow one can transfer himself from this material world to the spiritual world and thereby stop birth, death, old age, and disease. This is the whole subject matter. People should consider. "I d o not wish to die. Why is death forced upon me?" This is the question of an intelligent man. People do nor like to think of death, but sometimes they are forced to. S uppose there is some natural disturbance. 1 have experience: recently when I was in the front room, there was a little trembling of an earthquake. People were crying; especially the ladies were screaming. And as soon as there will be a big earth quake, everyone will become afraid: "Oh, now we are going CO die! We have to die!" Everyone is afraid of death, but nobody thinks abou t how to make a solution to the problem of death. Here in the present verse it is said that Yamaraja was called in order to save the persons present in the assembly from death. But ordinarily, only those who are sinful see Yamaraja at the time of death. after the body is finished. Yamaraja is there when we are sin ful j he is not for the devotees. In this regard there is an account in the Srlmad-Bhagavatam concern ing Ajamila. Ajamila was a greatly sinful man, but h e was fond of his youngest child, who was named Narayal).a. At the time of death Ajamila saw four very fierce and odd-looking creatures. They were the Yamaduta s, messengers of Yamaraja. Ajamila was very much afraid: "Who are they!" And because he was very affectionate to his youngest child, he called out, "Narayal).a, please come h ere! I am very much afraid!" Immediately, four messengers of Narayal).a came and stopped the ~ Yamadutas. Just see the power of chant~ ing the name of Narayal).a! Ajamila im-

mediately became eligible ro go to Vaikur:>(ha. Apparently, he did nor even mean Lord Narayal).a when he chanted the name of his son. But Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura, with reference to the context, comments that Ajamila must h ave remembered Lord Naraya"a when he called out the name of his child. In his boyhood, Ajamila was a very sincere devotee of Lord Narayal).a, being the son of a brahma"a. But h e fell under the clutches of a prostitute. And after mixing with the prostitute, all his spiritual activities stopped. That is natural. He became a drunkard, a thief, a gambler, a meat-eater, and a debauchee. All


and His form are nondlfferent Kr~.,a·s form on the altar can give you the same result as you would get If He were personally present That Is Kr~.,a·s absolute nature. So In the name of Kr~.,a there Is complete potency, Just as there Is In Kr~.,a personally. Therefore It Is so Important to chant His name. these qualifications h e acquired by the assoc iat ion of one prostitute. In the present age people's only business is to mix with prostitutes. Just see their position! How fallen they are! There is an open market for prostitution. This is modern civilization. So, Ajamila was a brahmaJ).a's son, very regulated, following all the ru les and regulat ions. But as soon as he associated with a prostitute, he became fa llen. Still, at the t ime of death this man remembered Lord Narayal).a. Accord in g to Visvanatha Cakravarti

"'''"'', If h, h,d , 1.,1, mUd


name of his son, that wou ldn't have been sufficient. He actually remembered Lord NarayaJ).a. But according to sastra [scripture], even if one chants rhe holy name of the Lord neglectfully, one gets the chance of being liberated. That's a fact. The sastra tells how once a Mohammedan was a ttacked by a wild boar. While the boar was killing the Mohammedan with its tusk, the man uttered, "Harama! Harama!" Harama is an Urdu word that means "co ndemned" or "abominable." The Mohammedans do not ea t the flesh of pigs, just as the Hindus do not eat the flesh of cows. To the Mohammedans, pigs are harama, condemned. So when the man cried out "Harama !" he meant "This boar is condemned!" Still he got the result of chanting ha rama, h a rama. "0 my Lord Ramacandra!" There are hundreds and thousands of names of Kr~1).a, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and if you chant any of them you will get the result. That is the instruction of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu: nam-nam akari bahudha

nija-sarva -sakri s rarrarpira niyamiw~ smara"e na ka[a~. The Supreme Personality of Godh ead and His name are iden tical. That is Kr~l).a's absol ute nature. K""a and His form are also nondifferent Kr~l).a·s form on the altar can give you the same result as yo u wou ld get if He were personally present That is Kr~l).a's absolute nature. So in the name of Kr~l).a there is complete potency, just as there is in Kr~l).a personally. Therefore it is so important to chant His name. In this age, we are so fallen that it is not possible to associate with Knlfa as He is. But if we associate with Kr~l).a's name, then that is also assoc iation with Kr~"a. This is the advantage of ch anting His name. And as you associate with Kr~lfa in His sound form, you become purified: sr"vararh sva- katha~ kT~"a~ pu"ya-Srava"a-klrtana~ hrdy anta~-stho hy abhadra"i vidhunoti suhrt satam. This is

th e advantage of chanting the h o ly name of Kr~l).a. Therefore everyone's duty is to solve rhis birth-and-death problem by chanting the Hare Kr~l).a mantra. That is the

(please turn to page 30)



January 2006 •



• • An address to members of the International Network of Women and Religion (INWAR) at their headquarters in New York City. by Satyaraja dasa 'll begin by defining two words: Vai~l).ava and women. A Vai~l).ava is a devotee of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, more personally known as Vi~l).u or Kt~l).a. In India this term is quite common, and there are millions who follow the path of Va i~l).avism. Ultimately, Vai ~l).ava refers to the natural state of the soul, since all living beings are constitutionally related to God in a mood of loving devotion. The second word, although more familiar, is more difficu lt to define when used with the word Vai~l).ava. The man/woman dichotomy relates to the body, whereas the "Vai~l).ava" designation refers to the nature of the soul. In one sense, a Vai-?l).ava is not really a man or a woman, and so reference to "women Vai~l).avas" or "male Va i~l).avas" is inaccurate. For the sake of common parlance, however, it is practical-if not downright necessary-to acknowledge the bodily d istinctions that exist within the material world. After all, a woman can serve God (i.e" act as a Vai{i1)3va) by having children, for example, whereas a man cannot. So while women and men are spiritually equal, they may serve God in different ways. Worldly differences can thus be acknowledged and should be used in divine service. In this sense, then, we may rightly speak of «women Vai~1).avas."


WOMEN IN VEDIC CULTURE For a clear understanding of Vaisnava women and the actIVIties that led them to greatness, we look to anClent India's VediC lIterature, the splntual claSSICS upon which Val~nava dharma rests. In the earlIest



JantIaly 2006

January 2006 •



Vedic texts, we find that the woman was mainly seen as the wife or mother. The emphasis was on her place in the home, and her work was given divine status. Her rel igious duty was to maintain the spiritual environment of the home and to raise children as devotees of the highest order. This she could do only if her own spiritual practices were strong and if h er meditations were profound. Guidelines are given in the scriptures that can assure perfection on this path. It might be asked why the woman rather than the man was gi ven the service of homemaker. O ne answer offered by the Vedic texts is that since the child came from her body, she would naturally take ve ry seriously the service of raising the child in God consciousness. She also could not bear to be away from her child-flesh other flesh. The husband had a less difficult time going out-away from the ch ild -and making a living. The wife, in general, felt more comfortable at home. It was natural and pleasing. Both parties, playing their respective roles, se rved to create a spiritual atmosph ere within the h ouseh old. Especially when they both learned to see their roles as se rvice to Kr~l).a. In this sense, the roles are absolute- the roles they play are equal in that they are merely different ways to se rve the Supreme. The Ved ic epic Ramayal).a explains the social hierarchy that existed within the spiritual home: stTI1).arh bharta hi dai1Jatam. That is to say, the husband is the guru for the wife, even as the wife is theory for the child and the spiritual master is the guru for the husband. In other words, in the Vedic household everyone had a spiritual authority, and in this way social sanity was maintained a nd everyo ne in the fa mily co uld progress toward the ultimate goal of life: spiritual realization. There were, however, exceptions to the traditional roles of men and women, and as we delineate the great Vai~l).ava women throughout history, we will elucidate upon the ascetic tradition that made clear the spiritual equality between men and women. It should be noted that the ~reatest Vaiglava of all time is Srimati Radharal).i, who is female. She, of course,

is also known as a manifestation of the S upreme and so does not really figure into our disc ussion. Among the women described in the Vedic literature, the most important for her representat ion of ideal womanhood is Sitadevi, the wife of Lord Ramacandra. Sh e embodi es all of the qua lities to be found in the ideal Vedic wife. Although goddesses such as Parvati and Lak1mide vi, and o ther h eroi nes from the Vedic literature such as Savitri and Damayanti are also good examples, it is Sita who is

Her religious duty was to maintain the spiritual environment of the home and to raise children as devotees of the highest order. This she could do only if her own spiritual practices were strong and if her meditations were profound.

particularly remembered as the ideal in co nventi ona l Vedic womanhood. Ind eed, even today one h ea rs the Indian mother tell her daughter. "Be like Sitadevi ." GREAT WOMEN VAI$~AVAS Vedic culture gave rise to many great women. In addition to Sitadevi there were the likes of Draupadi, Kunti, and

GandharL The great women of the Vedic per iod are often considered prehistorical personalities, many of them gracing the earth more than five thousand years ago. Since that period is now shrouded in antiquity, and since many o f the stories surrounding their lives are often confused with mythological tales. I will restrict my discussion to women Vai~l).avas within the las t five hundred years. SACIDEVI Sac[devi appeared in Bengal in the mid-fifteenth century. Playing the role of the perfect mother and wife, she was glorified as the mother of S ri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and the wife of Jagannatha Misra . S ri Caitanya, the founder of GauQ.iya Vai~:r:mvi sm, is a combined manifestation of Radha and Krsna. Sac[devi was the daught~r of a wellknown Bengali family that migrated from East Bengal (now Bangladesh) and set tled in Navadvipa. Her father, N ilambara Cakravarti was a very influential man because of his knowledge of astrology and th e Vedic scriptures. After marrying Jagannatha Misra, Sacidevi went through great austerities as a mother. In fact she lost eigh t female children during successive pregnancies, and sh e wept in anticipation of further offspring. Sacidevi's next child was a boy-Visvarupa, who survived. Some years later, she gave birth to Sri Caitanya. But while little Nimai (as Caitanya was called in His yo uth) was still an infant Visvariipa renounced the world and became an ascetic. This brough t untold regret to Sad, for now Visvarupa would n o longer bring joy to the Misra househ old. He would now wander the co untryside, preaching and vis iting temples in service to the Lord. Jagannatha Misra did not survi ve the trauma o f ViSvarupa's renunciation. Saci, h o wever, managed to ca rryon, and sh e resolved to raise little Nimai to the best of her ability. Beca use of the purity and intensity of her devotion, her aspirations for h er last surviving child would be more than fulfilled. As N imai grew He developed exceptional features, profound scholarship, and a devotional attitude. His con- ~





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cealed divinit y began to blossom, as the scriptures had predicted it would. But Saci's domestic h appin ess was sh ort -lived, for at the age of twenty-four Sri Caitanya, too, became a renunciant, following in the footsteps of His brother, Vi'varupa. Despite this final blow to her h ope of familial bliss, Sad's perseverance as a devotee remained unscathed. Sri Caitanya, in fact, h ad asked for His mother's permission to lead the life of a renuncian t in service to God. A I¡ though it was difficult for h er, sh e non eth eless relented, th e only stipulatio n being that He make His headquarters in nearby jagannath a Purl, so sh e would regularly hear news of His activities. Although S ri Caitanya's renunciation is remembered as a pi votal event in t he histor y of Gau~lya Vai, ]:>avis m, Sacidevi's renunciation is glorified in t he annals of Vai ~Q.ava history as unbounded. For in allowing the Lord-her son-to live the life of an ascetic, she made the ultimate sacrifice. According to the Lord's desire, she agreed to WOfship Him in separation. Sad thus experienced the highest, most esoteric rela tionship with the Lord, and Vai~-D-avas throughout the world seek to emulate her uncompromising devotion. VISNUPRIYA If Sacidevl ;"~s the perfect mother, Vi~-D-upriya was the perfect wife. Lak~mi­ devi, Sri Caitanya's first wife, died prematurely when sh e was bitten by a snake. Mother Sad then pleaded with her divine son to remarr y. H e did, and the bride was Vi, ]:>upriya, daughter of the aristocra ti c Sanatana Misra , a wellknown politician. When Sri Caitanya soon left to pursue the life of an asceti c. Vi~ -D-upri ya made the same commitment and sacrifice as did Sacidevi. Vi~J).upriya, however, also had to take care of Sacl, who was n ow becoming old an d infirm. Vi~J).upriya spent as much time with the name of God as with her beloved moth er-in-law, and h er reputation soon gre w as a prominent asce ti c in th e Gau~l ya Vai, ]:>ava line. It is said that sh e would set aside one grain of rice each time sh e would ch ant ~ the Hare Krsna mantra 108 ti mes. When





her utterances of the name were complete for a particula r day, she would boil the accumu la ted rice and take thatand only that- as h er daily meal. As her austerities and exemplary beh avior b ecame kno wn within the Vai~J).ava community, she was glorified for being th e model of a ch aste wife and also for being an asceti c o f the mystical tradition. This made h er a leader in the Vai~l)ava community.

JAHNAV ADEVI Important women

Vai~ l) avas


Among the women described in the Vedic literature, the most important for her representation of ideal womanhood is Sitadevi, the wife of Lord Ramacandra. She embodies all of the qualities to be found in the ideal Vedic wife. took leadi ng roles in Lord Caitanya's movement and even ass umed the position of guru. One of the more prominent woman gurus was Jahnavadevi, wife of Nit ya nanda Prabhu. Sri Caitanya's intimate associate and plen ary expansion . When Nityan anda Prabhu married the tw o d a ught ers o f Sa r akh a la Siiryadasa PaJ).9.i ta , the entire Vai~J).ava co nununity was overcome with ecstasy, for the two girls were extremely pious and were known as great Vai~l)avas . The


>"''''''' w<Co """dho, "" b;wh children: a boy, Vlrabhadra; and a girl,

Gailgadevl. The young Vasudha soon passed away, however, and Jahnavadevi resolved to raise h er sister's children. In addition, she adopted a boy n amed Ramacandra. So jahnavadevl spent much of h er youth taking care of th e three children, making sure th ey became great devotees. Vlra bhadra , especially, grew to be a leader in the Vai ~J).ava community, and when he acce pted jahnavadevl (his stepmother) as his guru, many prominent Vai, \lavas did so as well. Much of jahnavadevl's fame began as a result of her rela tionship with N ityananda Prabhu. But h er activities soon revealed her greatness, and she was respected as a superlative Vai~J).ava on her own merit. H er de vot ion to the famou s Goplnatha Deity of Lord Krsna was so intense that this endeared her to the pious and impious alike. By her example she showed how to perform Deity worship and devote one's life to spiritual pursuits. She even presided over huge Vai~J).ava festiva ls and gave initiation to men and women alike. It was Jahnavadevi, too, who had the insight to keep close contact with the Goswamis ofVrndavana, Lord Caitanya's chief followe rs there. In this way she sought to keep solidarity and unification between the branches of GauQ.iya Vai~J).av ism in Bengal and in Vr ndavana (Uttar Pradesh). The coh esive formofGau~iya Vai~J).avism that exists today is largely a result of her efforts. One other phenomenon in the life of Jahnavadevi is pertinent to our discussion. Devo tion to her mission and purpose became so strong that in h er own lifetime a deity was made other, and this was to be placed alongsid e th e Goplnatha Deity, who was the object of her venera tion. A council was convened injaipur to decide the propriety of placing h er deit y next to Lord Goplnatha. The king of j aipur and the assembled Vai,]:>avas decided unanimously that the de ity sh ould be establish ed, an d it was indeed placed next to Gopln ath a within jahnavadevl's lifetime . Such a distinguish ed h onor is un common among

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men and women alike.

HEMLATAAND GANGAMATAGOSVAMI In th e n ext ge n e ra tion after Sri Caitanya and N ityananda Prabhu (1600s or as late as the 1700s), many great female Vai'l).avas followed the example of }ahnavadevi, two of the most prominen t being Hemlata and Ga nga ma ta Gosvami. Not much is known about Hemlata Thakural).i. She was th e eldest daughter of Srinivasa Acarya and h ad many disciples, both men and women. She was a mystic of the hi ghest order and developed a profound sense of love for God_ Gangamata Gosvami, on th e oth er h and, is written about quite often in the pages of Gau<,liya Vai' l).ava history, especially in the historical records of the Nityananda-vam,a (from which sh e descends). Her guru was Haridasa Pal).Q.ita, a disciple of A nantilcarya, who was a fo llower of JahnavadevL In this way, her disciplic descent is traced to N ityananda Prabhu _ She was the daughter of King Na reSa Narayal)a of Puntaya, of the Rajsahi district of Bengal. U nlike most g reat women Vai ~l).avas , even the mystics, G angamata ne ver married, and so she was given the title "Gosvami" ('(controller of the senses") for her strict celibacy and profound wisdom. She did not take formal sannyasa (the renounced order of life in the Vedic social system), for she felt that the scriptures recommend sannyasa solely for men. But in spirit sh e adopted this path and so received the title HGosvami." The Deity of h er heart was Madana Gopala, and she worshiped this form of Kr~1)..a with great devotion. In her youth, she studied in Vrndavana, and after many years she moved to Jaganna tha Puri, where sh e lived at the ruins of what was former! y the h ouse of the great sch olar Sarvabh auma Bhanacarya. The Bhanacarya had been a prominent dis ciple of Sri Caitanya, and altho ugh his house was now, almost two hundred years later, merely a run-down facsimile of its former self, Ga n gamata stayed there for the spiritual inspiration it bestowed. At that h ouse sh e found th e sacred




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Damodara-sila (a Deity of Kr,l)a in the form of a stone) on ce worshi ped by Sarvabh auma Bhanacarya himself. She worshiped this Deity with the same intensity with which sh e had worshiped Madana Gopala in Vrndavana. Mukundadeva Maharaja, the king of Puri once came to h ear h er recite Sri madBhagavatam, the sacred scripture of the Vai~-D-avas . He was so taken by h er pure recitation and h er elaborate explanati ons th at h e became h er d isciple and

Great women Vaisnavas have . existed throughout the ages. and they have demonstrated that the qualities of leadership, scholarship, intelligence, wisdom, and devotion are affairs of the heart and mind, irrespective of sex.


encouraged much of Puri to do the same. H e financed a special temple to be built for her, an d sh e became one of the prominent Vai~1)..avas of Orissa.

CONCLUSION I h ave given only some preliminary examples of grea t women Vai~-D-avas. Nonetheless, we have seen examples of a great Vaigtava mother, a wife, mystics, ce li bates , and gur us. In short, th e

Vai,l)ava tradition has establish ed precedents for women to assert themselves and distinguish themselves as outstan ding Vai~-D-avas, both in traditional roles more commonly ascribed to women and in very independent roles that would perh aps be the envy of men. Great women Vai~1)..avas have existed throughout the ages. and they have demonstrated that the qua li t ies of leadership, sch olarship, intelligence, wisdom, and devotion are affairs of the heart and mind, irrespective of sex. Thank you very much. Are th ere any question s? Question: I enj oyed the lecture very much. But I feel that feminists in general will be slighted. You've described the posit ive elements in the milieu with which you're familiar- Vai~-D-avism, the Hare Kn-D-a religion. But don't t he women of even that tradition feel exploited? Aren 't they still the product of a male-dominated society? Satya raja: There may ve ry well be ample justification for the dissatisfaction of the feminists. Perhaps they have indeed been oppressed and exploited by a male-dominated society. Let us not forget , however, that it is a materialistic society in which this takes place. Exploitat ion is a symptom of selfishness. A nd selfishness is a symptom of the bodily concept of life. My contention is this: It is this bodily concept of life that is at the h eart of materialistic thinking, and it is this rather than male domination that creates the exploitative men tality. Q: I see. S: Yes. If one identifies himself or h erself as nothing more than a material body, the external self becomes of centra l interest- more important than the person within. Bodily differences are accen tu ated. Spiritual unity is overlooked. It would seem that the solution to exploitation - the major problem facing the feminists- is to obliterate materialism, not sexism. Sexist thinking is a symptom of th e disease- the disease is materialism ! Q: OK, but th e grea t women Vaigtavas whom you've mentioned and, more impo rta n t , th e rank-and-file J women who follow Vedic culture-how~




have they risen beyond exploitation! S: I've explained that already: by rising beyond the bodily concept of life. Men and women will rise beyond exploiration to the degree that they rise beyond the bodily concept and become established in the self- the actual, spi ritual self. Q: But devotees do not live in a vacuum! They may rise beyond the bodily concept, but they are still su bjected to the exploitation of those who haven't attained that level.

according to Manu's Dharma-sastra, there is a hierarchy, and in Vedic culture all members happily followed the system for social sanity. Everyone played his or her role. Everyone had an authority, and everyone was subordinate to someone else. In this way, one learn ed submission, culminating in submission to God. But the Vai~l).ava ttadition added something special, an underlying and esoteric message of the scriptures: th e true devotee wishes to be the servant of

S: I see what you're getting at. It's



actually a very good point On the other hand, a woman who pursues spirituality is protected by her discipline and the strictures of her religious tradition. She can never be exploited- even by members of society still on a lower level because she never engages in sinful activity. Especially if she's not engaging in illicit sex-who can exploit her? Actually, she plays a leading and honored role within the social parameters of her family and community. In sh ort, she avoids exploitation by being thoroughly devoted to God, Kr~l).a, and sh e thus sees a spiritual equality, not a contrived material one. She knows that she is spiritually equal. She feels that feminism betrays a narrow understanding of the purpose of existence, that it is predicated on competition between men and women. She knows that the only competition worth pursuing is between a person and his or h er own conditioning. She has a role to play in her service to God, and it is this which concerns h er - not some petty squabble about bodily differences. So, in answer to your question, no, women who adhere to Vedic or Vai~f.lava practice do not feel exploited. To the degree that they are accomplished in con scio us realization, they tran scend the ability to be or feel exploited. In fact, they are unable to be exploited, because they give no room for exploita tion. You must submit to materialistic life in order to be exploited. And a dedicated devotee will never do that. Q: But do devotee women have equal positions? I mean, do they ever take service from men! S: Not if they're advan ced. You see,

To the degree that they are accomplished in Knl}.a conscious realization, they transcend the ability to be or feel exploited. In fact, they are unable to be exploited, because they give no room for exploitation.

the se rvant of the servant of So, in actuality, you have material culture in reverse. Not "Who is serving me?" but "Who can I serve?" This is the devotees' motto. So advanced devotees desire to be the menia l servant not the master. And in this way they develop humilit y before God. Incidentally, just so you don't think I'm si mply skirting th e issue with so me abstract philosophy. I will tell you that ad vanced devotees do accept service from novices, and in this way a novice can make advancement on the spiritual path. This holds true for both men and women. Many of the great women I men-

"0"," '" ""


w,re '"'OO of


men and women and consequently accepted service. You see. Vai~f.lavism is not at all sexist Not really. But you must get beyond superficiality. In the ultimate anal ysis it is not ge nder but spi ritua l advancement that is the criterion. Q: Do you believe that men and women are inherently different! OK. granted men and women are spiritually equal, but you alluded to bodily differences, and this is certainly true. What about more subtle qualities, though? How are we different on the subtle level? For instance, do you give credence to the theory about the right and left sides of the brain!' S: Why not! I think that the research in this area leaves a great deal to be desi red, but the basic premise is reasonable. In the Bhagavad-glta, for example, it is said that speech, memory, intelligence, faithfulness, and patience are feminine qualities. Is this sexist? These are admirable qualities. And this information is being confirmed by research into the right and left sides of the brain. There is scientific evidence that certain subtle functions of the brain are more ch aracteristic of women than of men. Q: O h, come on! Men and women are perfectly equal, at least mentally. We have the same potential. Bodily differences I can give you. But subtle, mental differences? That's go ing too far. It's just an old wives' tale. Or sh ould I sayan old men's tale. [Laughter.) S: I can appreciate your concern. To acknowledge mental and intellectual differences can lead to exploitation. But don't misunderstand me. I am saying that our mental and intellectual faculties are equal, but that our mental and intellectual forte may vary from body to body. Just the forte . Just our point of emphasis. This can be and is h eavily influenced by the kind of bod y we h ave. I'm n ot merely giving you some dogmatic rhetoric. These ideas have been su bstantiated by some of the leading physicists a nd psychoana lysts in the world. For example, Dr. Georgene Seward, professor emeritus at Columbia University, has written two faSCinating books on this subject: Sex and the Social Or-

(please turn to page 30)



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This encounter on the battlefield between Lord Kr~l}a and Bhi~madeva was not the hostile clash of enemies that it appears to be. On the contrary. it was the reciprocation of deepest love between the Supreme Personality of Godhead and one of His great devotees And then Bhi$madeva's bow was still. It dropped to the ground, and the invincible general stood unarmed and stared with widening eyes at the Lord charging furiously toward him. In intense concentration he noted every detail of Kr~l).als appearance: He saw how the beautiful flowing black hair of the Lord had turned ashen from the dust of bat tie; he saw how beads of sweat adorned His face like dew on a blue lotus flower; he saw how red smears of blood from wounds made by his own arrows enhanced the beauty of the transcend ental body of th e Lord. Bhi$madeva watched the Lord rushing toward him, preparing to kill him with a hurl of the wheel, and he was filled with ecstasy. This encounter on the battlefield between Lord Kr~l).a and Bhi~madeva was not the hostile clash of enemies that it appears to be. On the contrary, it was th e recipro cation of deepest love betwee n the Supreme Personality of Godhead and one of His great devotees, and from it both derived the highest transcendental bliss. Srila Prabhupada explains this encounter at Kuruk~etra in Chapter Nine of the First Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam, and if we study the incident under the guidance of a bona fide spiritual master, who can take us to the reality that lies beyond appearance,

we can begin to enter into the profound myste ries of the relations between the Lord and His pure devotees. The battle at Kuruk~etra was a civil war within the Kuru dynasty between the so n s of Dhrtariigra (called the Kauravas) and the sons ofPal!~u (called the Pal!~avas) for rulership of the kingdom. Dhrtarag ra and Pal!~u were brothers, and in the normal co urse of events Dhrtaragra, as the elder of the two, would have been king. But because Dhrtara$1ra was blind from birth, Pan~u ascended to the throne. Then Pal!~u died untimely. H is five orphaned sons-one of whom wa s Arjuna- came under the care of their uncle Dhrtaragra, who raised them and trained them in the military arts along with his own so ns. The eldest son of Dhrtarag ra, the evil-mind ed Duryodhana, became increasingly envious of his cousins, and h e resented any share they would have in the kingdom, which, had his father been ruler, would have fallen entirely to him. Dhrtaragra was not a bad man, but h e was weakwilled and excessi vely fond of his eldest so n, a nd gradually h e fe ll in wit h Duryodhana's vicious schemes to kill the Pal!~ava s.

All these plots failed, but Duryodhana did manage to cheat the Pal).Q.avas of their share in the kingdom and have them banished for fourteen years. When the Pal).Q.avas returned from exile to reclaim their rightful share of rulership, it was refused them. They then requested five villages to rule, but eve n that was asking too mu ch: they were denied even as much land as you could dri ve a pin into. To appreciate how impo rtant rulership was to the Paf.l-Q.avas, we need to understand an important S anskrit word: dharma. Sometimes translated as lld uty/' sometimes as IIreligion,1I dharma contains both meanings but has really n o exact equivalent. Formed from the Sanskrit root dhr, meaning lito support or sustain ," dharma denotes the fundamental basis of a thing, that by wh ich something is what it is, its inalienable nature or character. Thus the dharma of fire is to burn, and the dharma of sugar is to be sweet.

We learn from the Bhagavad-gita and other Vedic texts that every human has a two-fold dharma, one permanent and one temporary. Since all living entities are eternal, subordinate particles of Goo, our essential and unalterable nature, our permanent, eternal dharma, is to serve God. Now one may object that si n ce many people quite plainly don't serve God, that cannot be everyone's unavoidable dharma. People who appear not to be serving God, h owever, really are serving Him, although they do so unwillingly. To serve someone means to be controlled by the o ther person's order, and since everyone is necessarily controlled by Goo, everyone serves Him. Those who serve God willingly, in love and devo ti on, are controlled directly and favorably by God, and they enter into eternal life. But those who rebel against God, seeking independence, serve Him unwillingly, being controlled by Him indirectly and unfavorably, through material naturej therefore, they must suffer repeated birth and death. Because service to God is our dharma, serve we must. Nevertheless, we h ave this much freedom: How to serve God is up to us. In addition to this eternal and universal dharma pertaining to the soul, there is a supplementary dharma pertaining to the bodYj it is temporary and particular, applying only to civilized human beings. The Vedic literature tell us that four gro ups of people naturally compose human society: brahmal).as, or intellectuals, who guide society according to their knowledge of the highest truth; k$atriyas, or executives, who manage society under brahminical direction and protect the citizens from external and internal disturbancesj vaisyas, or producers, who create the wealth of society by agriculture and tradej and sudras, or laborers, who assist the other three groups. In the Bhagavad-gita Lord K,$l!a tells Arjuna that these four kinds of people, endowed with the appropriate qualities and aptitudes, are His creation; thus they are as natural to human society as head, arms, belly, and legs to the human body. Vedic society had the advantage over ours in recognizing thisj following the J directions of the Vedic literature, it de- ~




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termined to which group a child belonged on the basis of his inherent tendencies and then educated him intensively to

assume a social role in fulfillment of his own nature. Each group had its particular constellation of duties, obligations, injunctions, prohibitions, and moral and ethical values, which together constituted the dharma of that group. Although dharma in this sense is usually trans lated as "duty," it is not like some externally imposed fiat followed merely out of a sen se of obligationi rather, by virtue of nature and education, it is constitutive of one's own self. To go against one's dharma. therefore, is not just to do wrong; it is to violate onels very nature. Because Vedic society was God-centered, the permanent and the temporary dharma were in harmony; the members of each group executed their particular duties as service to God. As Kr~l!a instructs Arjuna in the Bhagavad-glta [3.9): l1 Work done as a sacrifice for Vi~1).u has to be performed, oth er wise work binds one to this material world. Therefore, son of Kunt!, perform your prescribed duti es for His satisfaction, and in that way you will always remain unattach ed and fr ee from bondage." Now we can understand why it was so important for the Pa1).<;iavas to rule: they were k~atriyas, and rulership was their dharma. Kr~I).a states conclusively that it is far better to execute one's own dharma imperfectly than that of another perfectly [Bg. 3.35]. Moreover, in pursuing their dharma in relation to society, the PaI,l<;iavas would also fulfill their dharma in relation to God. The Pal).~avas were great de votees of Kr~ 1).a -so great th at Kr~1).a Himself, h avi n g descended into this world, played the part of thei r fri end and kinsman. A nd Kr~1).a wanted the pious and devoted Pal).~avas, rather than the impious and ungodly Kauravas, to rule. When the Kauravas remain ed obs tinate in op posin g the rights of the Pal).~avas, wa r becam e inevi tab le. KnQ-a tells Arjuna in the Bhagavad-g!ta [4.8) that He descends to earth t o reesta blish dharma. And in the great battle at Kuruk~etra, which took place by Kr~l!a's will for that ver y purpose, the PaI,l<;iavas were His chosen instruments.





Krel).a Himself d id not fight . The Kauravas objected that the PaI,l<;iavas would have an unfair advantage if the all-powerful Lord fought on their side. Krena therefore vowed that He would not personally take up arms and would participate strictly as a noncombata nt, as the driver of Arjuna's ch ariot. Bhi~ madeva was also a great devotee of Lord Kr~Q-a's. a devotee of the same stature as the PaQ-9avas. But Bhi~madeva, strange to say, was on the wrong side, the side of the impious Kauravas. Bhi~madeva was the aged and revered grandsi re of the Kuru dynasty, a valiant warrior, a brilliant general, and a great authority on religious principles. He was extremely affectionate toward the PaQ-9avas, and he had repeatedly warned the Kauravas in the stronges t terms of the wickedness and folly of their course. But when that course h ad led to war, Bhiemadeva had been obliged to fight for Duryodhana against his own beloved grandchildren, the PaQ-9avas, because he was maintained at Duryodhana's expense. It appears in Bhi~madeva's case that hi s temporary dharma as a k~atriya, which bound him in honor to his patron, was in conflict with his etern al dharma as a devotee, which bound him in love to his Lord. A nd it seems he erred in ch oosing to follow the former rather than the latter. in fact, however, there was no disparity in dharma for Bhi~madeva. A pure devotee acts only in obedience to the Lord, and the real reason Bhi~madeva fought for the Kauravas was that Krel).a wanted him to. Kql).a had two purposes to fulfill by this. First. He wanted the Kauravas to h ave every possi ble advantage - and a fi ghte r a nd leade r like Bhiemadeva was a huge advantage- so that when the Kauravas went down in ignoble defeat, the whole world would see that, however well-favored the side of vice may be, it can n eve r conquer virtue. K r~Q-a's second purpose was more confidential. In the kind of relationship Kr~Q-a and Bhi~madeva enjoyed, their love for one another was intensely aroused by fighting. Krel).a therefo re placed Bhiemade va in the opposing ranks to set the stage for a mutually sat-


was a great devotee of Lord Kr~l]a's. a devotee of the same stature as the pal]~avas. But Bhi~madeva,

strange to say, was on the wrong side, the side of the impious Kauravas. isfying en counter at arms. To understand the relationship be tween the Lord and His warrior-devotee, we need to know something about the idea of rasa in the Ved ic analysis of love. The flavor or taste of love varies according to the kind of relationship. A fan loves a celebrity, a loyal retainer loves his employer, a young man loves his brother, a mother loves her child, a husband loves his wife- these are all relations of love, but in each the quality of love, the emotional colori ng, is distinct. Th at d istincti ve emotion al coloring, that characteristic, affective fla vor, is called rasa. No matter h ow inten se the material rasas we experience in this world seem to us, they are onl y stale and juiceless copies-reflected into this world like a mirage into a desert-of the real and original spiritual rasas tasted in relation with God. To show us this, Vedic texts recount hundreds of fascinating encounters between the Lord and His devotees-like this one between Kr~ Q-a and Bhiemadeva-in which different



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is the su~ preme enjoyer, the reservoir of all rasas, eternally engaged in pas~ times of love with innumerable devotees, relish~ ing infinite variet~ ies of emotions and feelings. rasas ar e exhibi ted. Expert devotees, analyzing these narrations, have discovered twelve distinct ra sas, which they divide into two categories, called direct and indirect. A direct rasa is situated permanently in the h eart of a devotee, whereas an indirect rasa will suddenly appear under certain conditions. The five direct rasas are called neutrality, servitude, fraternal love, parental love, and conjugal love, The seven indirect rasas are called humor, astonishment, chivalry, compassion, anger, dread, and ghastliness. In the neutral rasa, a devotee is so overwhelmed by the transcendent grea tness of God that he can do no more than passively adore Him. In se rvitude, the devotee feels subordinate to God, but H e also wants to express His love actively by rendering service, A devotee in the more intimate fraternal rasa relates to God informally and as an equal, as one friend to another. In the parental rasa, the Lord takes the subordinate po sition of a child, and the devotee loves



Janlllily 2006

the Lord in the mood of a mother or father. ]n the most intimate, co njugal rasa, the devotee has t he feelings of a wife or a girl friend toward the Lord . You may see a conrradiction between the idea of dharma, which says that the living entity is an eternally subordinate se rvant of God, and the idea of rasa, which h olds that a devotee can act as the Lord's equal or supe ri or. But th ere is no conrradiction. While the living entity is never equal to or superior to the Lord, when the Lord wants to taste the feelings that arise in intimate relationshi ps, He allows a devotee to become His companion, parent, or lover by causing the devo tee to forget the immense differences between them. Ontologically, the devotee remains a subordinate servant; psychologically, by the will of the Lord, he becomes the Lord's equal o r su perior. Rasas with Kr~l).a are thus pure service to Him and are the highest expressions of dharma. Kr~Qa is the supreme enj oyer, the reservoi r of all rasas, eternally engaged in pastimes of love with innumerable devotees, relishing infinite var ieties of emotions and feelings. Devotees situ ated in vari ous rasas serve Kr~Qa by satisfying His desire to enjoy in some particular wa y, The devotee is impelled solely by love, which is an intense desire to satisfy Kr~l).a with no interest at all in one's own enj oyment. This distinguishes spiritual r asas from materia l ones, which are based on lust, or a desire to secure one's own satisfaction. If one wants to apprecia te th e spiritual quality of the rasas between Kr."a and His devotees, one must be free from lust. Otherwise, there is the danger, especially acute with reference to the conjugal rasa, of conceiving the spiritual [asas materially. Because we are emanations of God, whatever is in us reflects what is originally in H im, Thus we can understand something about God by st udying ourselves. Fo[ example, we are persons, so we ca n understand that God must be a person. We have bodily form, and the[efore we know that God does also , We enter into va rious relationships; so does God also, Of course, the personalit y of God is without the limitations and faults

of material personalities, nor can God's transcendental body be inj ured by blade or bullet or ravaged by age and disease like our material bodies. No[ do His [elationships have any of the well-known sh ortcomings that make material [elationships so problemat ic, Peo ple who speculate about God deny Him personality, body, and relationship, because of the imperfections that attend these thin gs in th e material world, This needlessly limits God; all that h as to be denied are the imperfections. Acco[dingly, there is n o need for misgivings when we hear that God likes to fight, The fighting propensity is certainly found in us, and therefore it originally exists in God, A fight offers unique pleasures: an in tense concenrration of the mind and a h e igh teni n g of t h e senses, along with th e exciteme nt of con test and adventure, the thrill of being ch allenged by danger, and an exhilaration in the testing of one's strength and courage. Of cou rse, in th e material wo rld, fighting is altogeth er polluted by hate and enmity, and wi th the advent of modern mech anistic warfare, it has degraded into mere terrorism and indiscriminate butch ery. The dharma of k.atriyas is to fight, but when they engage in a trial of arms, such as the one at Kuruk~erra, they at least observe the rules of chivalry. No k~a t[i ya would attack an enemy when h e was disarmed or asleep, Equals fought only with equals on eq ual gr o u nds, Battles were con d ucted in th e spirit of sporring con tests, and th ey were waged where civilian s would not be in danger. All things deteriorate in time: C hi va lry is dead, and the plan for our next big war has the military on both sides bunke[ed safely in underground Pentagons, while their weapons [a in destruction onto each oth er's defen seless civilian population. We h ave reason enough to dislike fighting, but we sh ouldn't project all the desp ica ble ch aracter istics of figh ting in the material world onto God's t ransce n dental fighting, The perversions are ours, not God's. WhenKr~ l).a wants to enjoy the pleasure of fighting, He calls upon an approp[iate d evotee t o be His opponent. J When Kr."a fights with His devotee, He ~

-)(~ "~~.J -,~\~).J.:-l

enjoys feelings of love enhanced by the

maneuvered Arjuna 's ch ariot in battle,

sh a rp emotio ns o f combat, a n d Bhi?rnadeva yea rned to se rve K!-"~t:la in

a whi p in His right h and and a bridle rope in Hi s left. He relished seeing Kr1!1a'S hair made ashen and disheveled by battle, and His face beaded with perspiration from th e effort of guiding th e ch ariot. And he re lish ed seeing t h e

this way. In Bhi1madeva the direct rasa of servitude was combined with th e more prominent indirec t rasa o f ch iva lr y. Fighting with Kr~ D-a is a natural expression of th at special va lorous enthusiasm which ch aracterizes the chi va lrous ra sa .

wounds inflicted by h is o wn arrows on

Kr1!1a was eager to be attacked by His beloved Bhi1madeva, and so, as the su-

Kr1!1a'S body. Kr1!1a displayed these fea tures in bat tle to satisfy the chivalrous love of

preme controller in everyone 1s h eart, He caused Dur yodhana, after a disastrous

His servant, JUSt as Bhi~madeva pressed his furious attack against Kr~1).a to sa t-

day of batde, to approach Bhi1madeva

isfy th e fi gh ting spirit of the Lord. Be-

with an ins ulting accusa tio n: The Pal).93VaS were winning only because

cause th e arro ws fa lling upon Kr~ 1).a were sh ot in chi valrous wo rship by His

Bh i~madeva,

out of affection for them,

beloved Bhi1madeva, th e Lord accepted

was reluctant to attack them with his full prowessi if Bhi~madeva was unwill-

them as He would a sh ower of soft roses

ing to fi ght the Pa!19avas, h e sh ould have said so in the beginning. A k1atriya

offered by another devotee. The Lord enjoyed th e wounds inflicted upon Him by Bhi1madeva, although in truth , there

cannot tolerate any insult to his h onor,

is no possibility of wounds on th e spiri-

and Bhi1madeva responded with a vow: He would slay all fi ve Pa!19avas the next day with five arrows especially made for that purpose. These he handed over to Duryodhana for safekeeping. But Arjuna, by a clever strategem, got the arrows away from Duryodhana. Bhi1madeva understood th at Kr1na was behind the ploy, a nd so he swore that the next day Kr1!1a would h ave to take up weapon s Himself (breaking His own vow), otherwise His

fri end Arjuna would die. And so it came about on the battle-

fi e ld t h a t Kr1!1 a ch arged t owa rd Bhi~madeva

with upraised wheel to save Ar ju na from certai n death at the

ge neral's hand. Bhi1madeva h ad kept his promise and forced Kr1!1a to break His own. Arjuna, acting in the fraternal rasa,

grabbed Kr1!1a around the waist to ch eck His assault on Bhi1madeva, pleading with H im not to break His promise an d be known as a liar. Kr1!1a could appreciate Arj una's friendly concern, but h e had deliberatel y gone back on His word to

tual body of Kr1!1a. Just as intense love can cause goosebumps to be raised on

th e skin or a flush to appear on the face, so Kr1!1a r es po nd e d in love to Bhi1made va with th e a ppearan ce of wounds on His inviolable transcenden -

ta l body. Thus Kr1!1a graCiously accepted the love offered to H im by Bhi1madeva. It was the genera lis most wonde rful h our. After the battle was over, when h e lay

with h is body so riddled wit h arrows that it did not touch the groun d, and gr eat sages h ad ga thered with t h e


fixed his mind with intense concentration on the image, driven indelibly into his heart, of Kr~.,a, angry and disheveled, with the wheel lifted high, rushing at him as a lover runs to meet his beloved. tual life deadly du ll ; godless relationshi ps seem far more interesting. Mark

Pa1).<;iavas to wi tness the passing of th e migh ty warri or-devotee, Bhi~ madeva fixed h is mind with intense concentration on the image , driven indelibly into

Twain spoke for these people when h e quipped: "Heaven for climate, h ell for so-

his heart, of Kr1!1a, angry and dish eveled, with the wheel lifted high, rush-

ships with Him are endlessly rich and attractive, filled with powerful and ex-

ing at him as a lover runs to meet his

alted emot ions, replete with fasci nat ing interchange s, utte rly abso rbing in inter-

beloved . The S rimad-Bhagavat am relates many pastimes between Lord Kr1!1 a and pure devotees like Bhi1madeva. Hearing

ciety. 1I But Kr~1).a sh ows us th at relation-

est, and ch arged th rough and through

Kr~D-a was magnificent-in protect-

to e nter full y into mutual relationships:

with ecstasy. Each of us possesses a rasa with Kr~1).a as part of our eternal makeup, but as long as we remain turned away from Him to seek happiness in material relationsh ips, o ur rasa lies unde veloped and dormant within our heart. To encourage us to revive our sleeping love for Him,

ing Arjuna and in breaking His promise. And Bhi1madeva relish ed this in deep '" ecstasy, just as h e relished the stern milir:::. tary features of Kr1!1a as H e adroitly

a God you wouldn't really care to know. This pernicious idea of God has led many people to t hink that relations with Him

unlimited pastimes, so that we can see th ere is no society like Kr~1).a 's society,

must be vacuous and one-sided, and spiri-

nor any love Iike Kr1!1a'S love. Il1)

self. No th ing supersedes His love for His

th ese narration s wi ll certainly act as an antidote ro the prevalent poisonous ste reotype of a remote, static , and entirely


unsocia ble God, a God too gra ndly aloof

sh o w that He protec ts His devotee unconditionally, at whatever cost to Him-

Kr1!1a has graciously revealed some of His



!.:-C?J~ ...

January 2006 â&#x20AC;˘



CIIANGING BODIES Every seven year~ scientists Sq)ly all the cells in your botIY have changecl including the cells in your brain. Yet something is constant. by Jayacivaita Swami


f all you see here is bodies changing, yo u're not seeing the point. The

meant to be an enigma ti c koan, nor

bodies are changing-that's obvious. But the most important person in this picture is the person you canle see at all.

Rather, it is a scientific observation, one that bears repeating: you are not your

That person is the living spark of consciousness within the body. In other words, that person is you. Whoever you

are, your body is changing. You once had the body of a child. Now you have the body of a young person or old person. The change is gradual, yet continuous. At every moment, within yo ur body, millions of chemical reactions are taking place, millions of cells are growing, dying

off, replacing themselves. Just as you can'e walk into the same stream twice (at every moment the stream is

You are not your body. This is not merely a statement of dogma or belief.

body. Please consider this carefully. Your body and mind are changing at ever y moment. Every seven yea rs ,

scientists say, all the cells in your body have been replaced, including the cells in your brain. Yet something is constant. That something is the consciousness

within the body. If you think about it, you will a lmost certain ly agree that there 1s a difference between you and your experiences, you and your surroundings, you and your hands, your feet, your chest, your head, even you and

changing), you can't keep yo ur body the

yo ur present thoughts (whatever you

Although yo ur body and mind

same. Your mind is changing, too, from

were thinking an instant ago, that

you, I trust, are still reading on).

change, that consciousness is permanent. Of course, the conten t of consciousness may change, but the fact of consciousness does not. Within the


You are still reading on. Not you the body or you the mind, for the body and

is present. AB the child matures, he gives

So far we've been talking about your body, your mind, your intelligence. Now, what about you?

mind of a few moments ago no longer exist, but you the observer, you the consciousness within.

moment to moment. And your intelligence is also changingbecoming sharper, we h ope, and more




January 2006

thought has just gone away, and so by now has the one that followed it-but

body of the smallest child, consciousness up the child's body for that of a young man and an old man, just as one might


take off old clothes and put on new ones. ~


' -'~ .-, ~ ... ~~~.

But just as the person changing the clothes remains the same person, the conscious indi vidua l who changes from one body to another remains the same person within, the same conscious observer. And what about death? When the body falls dead, it no longer holds consciousness. But has l that individual consciousness ceased to exist? ~ After all, throughout an entire lifetime of


change from one body to the next, that consciousness has persisted. Now it is gone. Where is it! And wh ere did it come from? Is it possible that at the time of death that conscious indi vid ual continues ro exist? If so, where does he go? Might this individual spark of life, this individual consciousness,

travel on to another body, to take birth again and go again through the cycle? And if so, does this cycle have an end? These are some of the questions posed, examined, and answered in the philosophy of Kqna consciousness. €J)



!~~}JI., . .

2006 •



The "Secular State" This conversation between H is Divine Grace AC. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and India's ambassador to Sweden took place in Stockholm, in the fall of 1973. Sril. Prabhupada: In America and India and so many countries all over the world, they h ave a l1s ecular st ate,l1 The government leaders say th ey donlc want to favor any particular religion, but actually they ate favoting irreligion. Ambassador: Well, we have a problem, We h ave a multi religious society, so we people in government have to be careful. We can'( take too strong a position on religion. Srila Prabhupada: No, no. The government must take a strong posi tion. Of course, the government should be neutral to all forms of bona fide religion. But it also h as a duty to see that the people are genuinely religious. Not that in the name of a l1secu-

lar state," the government sh ould let the people go to h ell.




Janua.ry 2006

Ambassador: Well, that's true. Srila Prabhupada: Yes, if you are a Muslim, th en it is th e duty of the government to see that yo u are rea ll y acting as a Muslim. If you are a Hindu, it is the government's duty to see that yo u are act ing as a Hindu. If you are C hri stian, it is th e governmenes duty to see that you are acting as a Christian. The government cannot give up religion. Dharmel).a hina pasubhih saman: if people become irreligious, then they are simply an imals. So it is the governmenes duty to see that the citizens are not becoming animals. The people may profess different forms of religion. That doesn't matter. But they must be religious. "Secular state" doesn't mean that the govern-

ment should be callous-"Let the people

God conSistently manifests all godly

Ambassador: In Moscow, so many people

become cats and dogs, without religion. I' If the gover nment doesn't care, then it isn't a good government.

qualities. But one who has no such devo tion always mu st be concocting schemes for exploiting the Lordls materia l, external energy-and so he can have no good moral qualities whatso-

are hostil e to religion, completely against it.

Ambassador: I think there's a lot in what you say. But, you know, politics is the art of the possible. Srila Prabhupada: No. Politics means seeing that the people become advan ced, that the cit izens become spiri-

tually advanced. Not that they become degraded. Ambassador: Yes, I agree. Bur I rhink rhe primary duty of the government is to provide rhe conditions in which gifted people, spiritual leaders like you, can function. If the government does any more than that, it might even corrupt the various religious groups. I think government should be like an umpire in a game-provide the conditions, provide the conditions for free speech. Srua Prabhupada: No. Government must do more than that. For instance, you have a commerce department-the government sees that the trade and industrial enterprises are doing nicely, properly. The government issues li censes. They h ave supervisors and inspectors. Or, for instance, you h ave an educational department - ed uca tional inspectors who see that rhe students are being properly educated. Similarly, the government should have expert men who can check to see that the Hindus are really acting like Hindus, the Muslims are acting like Muslims, and the Christians are acting like Christians. The government should not be callous about religion. They may be neutral. I1Whatever religion you profess, we have nothing to do with thar. 11 But it is the governmenes duty to see that you are doing nicely-that you are not bluffing. Ambassador: Surely". as far as moral conduct is concerned. But more than that, h ow is it possible , you know? Srila Prabhupada: The rhing is, unless you are actually following religious principles, you cannot possibly have good moral conduct. yasydsti bhaktir bhagavaty akificand sarvair gU'(lais catra samasate sura~ hardv abhaktasya kuto mahad-gund ~ marwrathenilsati dhdvato bahih ~ 1I0ne who has unflinching devotion to

ever." [Srimad-Bhagavatam 5.18.12) As long as you have fairh in God, devotion to God, everything is all right. After all, God is one. God is neither Hindu nor Christian nor Muslim. God is one. And that is why the Vedic literatures tell us, sa vai pumsiim para dharmo yato bhaktir adhoklaje ahaitukyapratihatii yayatma suprasidati liThe supreme duty for all humanity is to achieve loving devotional service to the S upreme Lord. Only such devotional service-unmotivated and uninterrupted----can completely satisfy the self.11 [Bhag. 1.2.6) So one musr be religious. Without being religious, no one can be satisfied. Why is there so much confusion and di ssat isfaction all over the world! Because people have become irreligious.

Srua Prabhupada: Why do you say Moscow? Everywhere. At least in Moscow they are honest. They honestly say, I1We donlt believe in God. 11 Ambassador: That's true. Thaes true.

Srila Prabhupada: But in other places they say, III am Hindu /' III am Muslim/I 111

am C hristian ... " I believe in God." And still they don't know anythin g about religion. They don't follow God's laws. Ambassador: I'm afraid mosr of us are like that. That's true.

Srua Prabhupiida: [Laughs.) I sh ould say that in Moscow at least they are gentlemen. They cannot unde rstand religion, so they say, IIWe do n lt believe. 11 But these other rascals say, II Yes, we're religiOUS. In God we trust.1I And yet they are committing the mo st irreli giO US acts. Many times I have asked C hristians, I' Your

Bible says, 'Thou shalt not kill.' Why are you killing" They cannot give any satisfactory answer. It is clearly sa id, I1 Thou shalt not kill"-and they are maintaining slaughterhouses. What is this! I!/)


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January 2006 •





Abode of Spiritual Longing This small, remote temple can inspire appreciation for the highest devotional sentiments.

by Bhakti Vikasa Swami


LTHOUG H ALARNATH is a little known holy place, I had al ways been fa scinated with the idea of goi n g there. S ri Caitanya Mahaprabhu would stay at Alarnath during anavasar3, the two-week period when Lord Jagannatha rests in seclusion before the annual Rathayatra (chariot festiva l) in Jagannatha Puri. Lord Caitanya couldn't bear staying in Puri without seeing His beloved Lord, and at Alarnath He would reveal the highest spiritual emotions, pining in ecstatic separation. Pm traveling with a group of five others to Bentpur, the village near the

A larnath temple, seventeen kilometers west of Puri and about five kilometers inland. To reach Alarnath, Lord Caitanya would walk along th e beach, but today most pilgrims take a bus. We're traveling by jeep, and the ride along the flat, winding road gives us beautiful views of agricultural fields and large coconut-palm forests. The rich land of the coastal plain supports many people, and we pass quite a few villages during the oneh our ride. It's seven in the morning, and




Janlllily 2006

Above: The temple of Lord Alarnath, where Sri Caitanya Mahrprabhu would go when unable to see Lord lagannrtha in Puri.

people are rising to bathe in ponds and rivers, as they have for thousands of years. Along the way we see many palanquins that house deities from area vi llages. The deities are on their way to Bentpur for an annual festival that brings together deit ies of each of the five Pa.l).~ava brothers, the pure devotees of Lord Kr-?l).a whose li ves are central to the e pic Mahabharata. According to lo cal tradition, anyone who sees all five de ities in one day attains liberation. Because the deities' temples sit some distance from one another, visiting them all in one day is impossible. In former times a king once tried on horseback but

failed. Now once a year the five deities gather at Bentpur and pilgrims come from all over the area with deities from their villages. More than a hundred deities-Radha-Kr~l).aJ Siva, other devaswill be arriving for this year's fest iva l, to be held tomorrow. We arrive in Bentpur in a typical Indian bazaar with blaring cinema music. It's a small village with a few hundred houses. A lthough it's still ea rly, m erchants are opening their small shops and kiosks to sell their produce, grain, spices, cloth, hardware, stainless-steel pots and pans-just about anything you'd need.

The author and two members of his party walk to the temple pond (right) . Below, the deity known as $ad-bhuja is the combined form of Caitan ya, Rrma, and KYl"a. In front of the deity is a stone that bears the impression of Lord Caitanya's body.

We walk a hundred yards or so to the Alarnath temple and find oursel yes in a peaceful, serene setting amid palm trees moving gently in the breeze. We imagine what the place must have been like when S ri Caitanya Mah ap rabhu stayed h ere fi ve hundred years ago (a blessed time without loud-speakers) . As with the Jagannatha temple in Puri, Westerners are not allowed inside for an audience with Lord Alarnath. Because it's a fairly small temple, we can see the deity from outside, aI-though not clearly. Lord A lamath is a four-armed


Left: Lord Narsimhadeva, one of the sculptures placed in the temple's outer walls under the direction of Srlla Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Th akur

JanuaJ.y 2006 â&#x20AC;˘



Lord Alarnath: Four Arms or Two?

Vi,t:'u deity. At His feet kneels Ga ru~a, His eagle-carrier, h ands folded in prayer. The Lord's con sorts Sri and Bhii also accompany Him. The temple also contains small Deities of Lord Kr>t:'a's queens Rukmit:'i and Satyabhama. Bas reliefs of Lord Brahma and Lord Siva grace the ceiling of one of the h alls leading up to the main chamber. The temple also h olds a de ity of Lord Caitanya known as $a9,-bhuja, or "Six-armed/' signifying Lord Caitanya's identity with both Lord Kr,t:'a and Lord Rama. A stone slab in front of the deity bears impressions from Lord Caitanya's body. When Lord Cai tanya first lay in full obeisan ce before Lord Alarnath, the srone beneath Lord Caitanya melted from His ecstatic touch. The gover nment o f O ri ssa manages the temple, and brahmat:'as from about fifty families take turns serving the deities. Each family specializes in one aspect of the deity service, the tradit ion passing from gen eration to generation. Some families cook for the deities, while others offer the deities their meals,

Radha finds Lord Kmta disguised as Lord Naraya>:ta WHEN LORD CAITANYA would come before Lord Alarnath , He would see Him not as Vi~l).u, or Narayat:'a, but as Kr't:'a, playing a flute. Therefore devotees in the line of Lord Caitanya consider Lord Alarnath to be two-armed Krsna. Sri Caitanya's ecstasy of ;e~ing Lord Alarnath in this way has its parallel in a pastime of RadhaKr~Ifa. Once, when Lord Kf~:t:la was enjoying with Radha and the other go pis (cowherd girls) in Vrndavana, He playfully hid from them. When the gopis, without Radha, found Him, He disguised Himself by displaying His four-armed form. The go pis didn't recognize Him and kept searching. But when Radha found Him, He couldn't hide from Her intense love and resumed His all-attractive two-armed form as flute-playing Kr$l).a , the only object of Radha 's pure devotion.

The author holds a sword that once belonged to Ramananda Raya (top left). Opposite page, (top), deities attend the annuaL festivaL in Bentpur. Top right, these government manuscripts date from the time of Ramananda Raya, about fi ve hundred years ago. In 1996 ISKCON Bhubaneswar did some renovations on the ALarnath temple and buiLt a large hall (left), a new kitchen , a smaLL temp Le for Lord Siva (the protector of the J hoLy site), and a welcome gate on the main road. ~

-)l~ 26



January 2006



worship them, decorate them, and so on. The temple owns about sixty acres of land, some used for the deities and some for their servants. Near the Alamath temple is the Brahma Gaucfiya Math, established by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvatl Thakura in 1926. The temple houses deities of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, Radha-Kr~l).a (Gopi-Gopinatha), and a small Lord Alamath. A priest of the Alarnath temple h ad found the small deity during excavation and h ad installed Him in the temple. One night the deity appeared to th e head priest in a dream and told him that He wanted to be worshiped by Bhaktisiddhanta SarasvatL The next day the priest presented the deity to Srila Bhaktisiddhanta, who h appened ro be staying ar the Gaucfiya Math temple. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta, who was born in Puri, loved

The Lord Eats to Please a Child


~ r~\

ONCE, A BRAHMANA named Sri Kerana, whose service was to offer food to Lord Alarnath, had to go out to beg provisions for the Lord. He gave his young son Madhu. the responsibi lity for making offerings in his absence, instructing Madhu to place the Lord's meals before Him and pray to the Lord to accept them. When the time came to make the first offering, Madhu brought the food to the Lord and prayed, "0 my dear Lord, please accept this offering. I'm just a boy and don't know how to offer it properly." Madhu then went out to play with his friends. When he returned, he saw that all the food was still on the plate. ((0 my Lord," he said, "why haven't you eaten? If my father h ears of this, he'll be angry with me. Please eat." Madhu left, only to return and find the food still on the plate. With tears in his eyes, he again begged the Lord to eat. When Madhu returned the third time, the Lord's plate was empty. Madhu happily carried the empty plate to his mother. ((Where is the prasadam?" she asked. "Lord Alarnath ate everything!" Madhu replied. For three days Madhu and his family fasted because whenever Madhu offered the


Lord His meal, He ate everything. When Sri Ketana returned and heard of the situation, h e scolded his son. (What have you done with Lord Alarnath's prasadam?" c<J1e ate it, father. I offered it just like you taught me." ÂŤHe can't eat," Sri Ketana replied. C(He's just a stone deity." Sri Ketana decided to see what was going on, so he hid behind a pillar while his son made an offering to the Lord. After Madhu had left, Sri Ketana saw the Lord reach down and pick up a bowl of sweerrice. Sri Ketana jumped from behind the pillar a nd caught hold of the Lord's arm, spilling hot sweet rice on the Lord's body. "Stop!" Sri Ke t ana yelled. "What are You doing? Who ever heard of a deity eating? If You eat everything, how will we live!" Lord Alarnath replied, "0 materialist in the guise of a brahmat:la, I never accept offerings from a faith less person like you, devoid of devotion. I accepted the offerings of Madhu because he offered them with simplicity and love." Today, the priests of Lord Alarnath point out several scars on the Lord's body where He was sc alded by the sweerrice.



Janua.IY 2006 â&#x20AC;˘



A lama th. He said that the place is the same as Vrndavan a and that the small lake there- on whose banks Lord Caitanya would rest- is the sa me as R adh a -kul).~ a, the most sacred of lakes. In 1929 Srila Bhakrisiddhanta arranged renovation of the A lamath temple and construction of a boundary wall. It is said that he was so eager to see the work completed that h e would roll cigarettes for the workers to keep them on th e job. He also placed sculptures of Vaman a, Nrsimha, and Varaha (three incarnations of Lord Kr'l).a) in alcoves in the temple's outer walls.

RAMANANDA RA YA'S HOME After visiti ng the Alarnath temple and the Brahma Gau~iya Ma,h, we go to th e oth er end of Bentpur village to the birthplace of Ramananda Ra ya, one of Lord Caitanya's chief associates. We meet Mr. P. K. Pattnaik, a descendant of Gopinatha Patrnaik, a brother of Ramananda Raya. Mr. Pattn aik and his family sh ow us a ceremonial sword that belonged to

Lord of the Alvars Area residents bring their deities (right and below) to the annual festival that unites the pa1){lava brothers.

A bas relief on Bempur's main gate, erected by ISKCON, shows Brahmil worshiping Nilrilya\La. ACCORDING T O LOCAL tradition, the history of Alamath goes back millions of years. H ere in Satya-yuga, the first of the four great ages, Lord Na rayal).a spoke to Lord Brahma from the sky, describing in detail the form of a deity Brah ma sh ould carve and worship. "Because yo u have worshiped Me here," Lord Na raya1) a sa id, «This place will be known as Brahmagiri ['Brah ma's Hill'] ." Much later, Brahmagiri became known as Alarnath. The presenta temple was built about eleven hundred years ago, and some brahmaI).as from South India performed the worship. Because they were in the disciplic line of the great spiritual teachers known as the Alvars, the deity became known as

Alvarnatha «((Lord of the Alvars"), which in time became Alamath. Today, the place is also commonly known as Brahmagiri.



JantIal)' 2006

Ramananda (a governor) and old government documents written on palm leaves. Across a dirt path from the Pattnaik's home is a temple of Ramananda Raya and Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, depicting their meeting on the bank

of the Godavari River.

AN IMPORTANT SITE Alarnath is not a big or famous holy place and probably never will be. Yet Gau<;!iya Vai~1).avas, the followers of Lord Caitanya, revere it as an important site of Lord Caitanya's pastimes. The great Gau~iya Vai s1).avas spiritual master Bhaktivinoda Thakura has sung, gaur amara, jesaba sthane, karalo bhramal)a range, se-saba sthana heriboami, pra:t:illyibhakata-sange: "J aspire to see, in the company of

loving devotees, all the places visi ted by Lord Caitanya." And Srlla Prabhupada writes, "A devotee should make a point of visiting all the places where Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu performed His pastimes. Indeed, pure devotees of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu even want to see the places He simply visited for only h ours or minutes." How important, then, is a place where Lord Caitanya stayed every year, exhibiting the most intense mood of separation from His beloved Kna).3! (t)

Bhakti Viktisa Swami hails from England but has lived in India for many years. He teaches Kmta consciousness at the ISKCON center in Baroda, Gujarat.

At the Gau~iya

Math temple at Alarnath, Sri GopiGoPintith and Lord Caitanya (right) offer blessings to pilgrims. At far right, a priest of the Gau~iya

Math temple shows the deity of Lord Alarnath found during




JanuaJ.y 2006 â&#x20AC;˘



The International Society for Krishna Consciousness

CENTERS IN INDIA Founder-Acarya: His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivendanta Swami Prabhupada Agartala, Tripura - Assam-Agartala Rd., Banamalipur, 799 001/ Tel. (038 1) 22 -7 053/ Fax: (038 1) 22 -4780/ E-mail: Ahmedabad, Gujarat - Satellite Rd., Gandhinagar Highway C rossing, 380 054/ Tel. (079) 2686-1945, 1645, or 2350 Email: Allahabad, UP - Hare Krishna Dham, 403 Baghambari Housing Sch eme Bharadwaj PuramAllah apur, 211006 Tel.(0532) 609213 Amritsar, Punjab -

Chowk Moni Bazar, Laxmansa r,

143 001/ Tel. (0183) 2540177 Bangalore, Kamataka - Hare Krishna Hill, 1 'R' Block, Chord Rd., Rajaji Nagar 560 010/ Tel. (080) 3471956/ Fax: (080) 3578625/ E-mail: Bangalore, Karnataka - ISKCON Sri Jagannath Mandi r, No.5 Sripuram, 1st cross, Shesh adripura m, Bangalore

560 020/ Tel. (080) 353-6867 or 226-2024 or 353-0102 Baroda, Gujarat -

Hare Krishna Land, Gatri Rd .,

390 021/ Tel. (0265) 231-0630 or 233-1012 or 235 -0885/ E-mail: Belgaum, Karnataka - Shukravar Peth, Til ak Wadi, 590006/ Tel. (0831) 243-6267 or 240-0108 Bharatpur, Rajasthan c/o Jeevan N irman Sansthan, 1 Gol Bagh Road, 321001 / Tel. (05644) 22044 Bhubaneswar, Orissa - National Highway No.5, IRC Village, 751 015/ Tel. (0674) 255-3517, 253-3475, or 255 -4283/ E-mail: Chandigarh - Hare Krishna Dham, Sector 36-B, 160 036/ Te l. (0172) 260-1590 or 260-3232. e-mail: Chennai, TN - Hare Krishna Land, Bhaktivedanta Road, Injambakkam , Off ECR Road, C hennai 600 041/ Tel. (044) (044) 250 19147, 25019303, 24343266 E-mail: Coimbatore, TN - Sri Jagannath Mandir, 100 fro New Scheme Road, Hare Krishna Land, Ae rodrome P.O., Coi mbarore 641 011/ Tel. (0422) 262-6509 or 262-6508/ E-mail:

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January 2006

24 Parga nas, West Bengal 743 704/ Tel. (03215) 57856 Haridwar, Uttaranehal - Srila Prabh upada Ashram, G . House, Nai Basti, Mahadev Nagar, Bhimgoda, 249 401/ Tel. (01334) 261116 Hyderabad, AP - Hare Krishna Land, Nampally Station Rd., 500 001/ Tel. (040) 2474-4969 or 2460-7089/ E-mail: vedan tacaitanya@pamh

Imphal, Manipur - H are Krishna Land, Ai rport Rd., 795 OOl/ Tel. (0385) 221587 Indore, Madhya Pradesh - 101 Chetak Arch, 7 MG Road/ Tel. (0731) 272665 Jaipur, Rajasthan - ISKCON, Giridhari Dauji Temple, ISKCON Rd., Opp. Vijay Path, Mansarovar, Jaipur 302 020 (mail: 84/230, Sa nt Namdev Marg, Opp. K,Y. No.5, Mansarovar, Jaipur 302 020) Tel. (0414) 2782765 or 2781860/ E-mail: Jammu, J&K - Srila Prabhupada Ashram, c/o Shankar C haritable Trust, Shakti Nagar, Ne ar AG Office/ Tel. (0191) 2582306 Katra, J&K - Srila Prabhupada Ashram, Sri Kalika Mata Mandir, Katra Vaishnodevi, 182 101/ Tel. (01991) 233047 Kolkata - 3C Albert Rd., 700 017/ Tel. (033) 247-3757 or Fax: (033) 247-85 15/ E-ma il: 6075/

Kurukshetra, Haryana - 369 Gudri Muhalla, Main Bazaar, 132 11 8/ Tel. (01744) 234806 Ludhiana, Punjab - Sterling Tower, Vrindavan Rd., Civil Lines, 141001/ Tel. (161) 2770600 or(161) 3118897 or 9815940005/ E-mail: Lueknow, UP - I Ashok Nagar, Guru Govind Singh Marg, 226018/ Tel. (0522) 223556 or 271551 Madras - (see Chennai) Madurai, TN - 37 Maninagaram Main Road, 625 001/ Tel. (0452) 274-6472 Mayapur, WB - ISKCON, Shree Mayap ur Chandrodaya Mandir, Shree Mayapur Dham, Di st Nadia, 741313/Tel. (03472) 245239, 245240, or 245233 Fax: (03472) 245238/ E-mail: Moirang, Manipur - No ngban Ingkhon, Tidim Rd./ Tel. 795133 Mumbai, Maharashtra (Bombay) - Hare Krishna Land, Juhu 400049/Tel. (022) 2620-6860/ Fax: (022) 2620-5214/ E-mail:; Mumbai, Maharashtra - 7 K. M. Munshi Marg, Opposite Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Near Babulnath Tern pIe, Chowpatty, 400007/ Tel. (022) 2369 -7228/ Fax: (022)

2367-7941/ E-mail: Mumbai, Maharashtra - Shrusthi Complex, Mira Rd. (E), opposite Roya l Co llege, Dist. Thane, 401 107/ Tel. (022) 2811-7795 or -7796/ Fax: (022) 2811-8875/ E-mail: Nagpur, Maharashtra - Sri Sri Radha Gopinath Mandir, 8 Shastri Layout, Ring Road, Khamla, 400 015/ Tel. (0712) 2273987 or 2273988/ E-mail: New Delhi - Hare Krishna Hill, Sant Nagar Main Rd ., East of Kailash, 110065/ Tel. (011) 2623-6133,4, 5, 6,7/ Fax: (011) 2621-5421 or 2628-0067/ E-mail:; (Guesthouse) New Delhi - 14/63, Punjabi Bagh (West), 110 026/ Tel. (011) 25109851 or 25167478/ Fax: (011) 25167448/ E-mail: Noida, UP - B-4, Sector 31, 201 301/ Tel. (095120) 2454912 or 245-5015/ E-mail: Pandharpur, Maharashtra - Hare Krishna Ashram (across Chandrabhaga River), Dist. Sholapur, 413 304/ Tel. (02186) 267241 or 267242/ E-mail: Patna, Bihar - Arya Kumar Rd., Rajendra Nagar, 800 016/ Te l. (0612) 687637 or 685081/ Fax: (0612) 687635/ E-mail: Pune, Maharashtra - 4 Tarapoor Rd., Camp, 411 001/ Tel. (020) 2633-2328 or 2636-1855/ E-mail: Puri, Orissa - Bhakti Kuti, Swargadwar, 752 001/ Tel. (06752) 231440

Raipur, Chhatisgarh - Hare Krishna Land, Alopi Nagar, Opposite Maharshi Vidyalaya, Tatibandh, Raipur 492001/ Tel. (0771) 5037555/ E-mail: iskconraipurÂŽ Ranaghat, West Bengal- Gourdham, Habibpur, Ranaghat, Dist. Nad ia 741 403/Tel. (03473) 281150 or 281226/ E-mail: Salem, Tamil Nadu - ISKCON, Hare Krishna Land, Rajaram Nagar, Salem 636 007/ Tel. (0427) 2418245/ E-mail: Secunderabad, AP - 27 St. John's Rd., 500 026/ Tel. (040) 780-5232/ Fax: (040) 814021 Silehar, Assam - Ambikapatti, Silchar, Disr. Cachar, 788 004/ Tel. (03842) 34615 Siliguri, WB - ISKCON Road, Gitalpara, 734 406/ Tel. (0353) 426619 or 539046 or 539082/Fax: (0353) 526130 Solapur, Maharashtra - C -29/49 Naganaath Laghudyog Society, Near Karnik Nagar, Behind Yalialinga Math, Solapur 413 006/ Tel. (098) 90128619/ E-mail: Sri Rangam, TN - 93 Anna Mandapam Rd., A-I Caitanya Apartments, 620006/ Tel. (0431) 433945 Surat, Gujarat - Rander Rd., Jahangirpura, 395 005/ Tel. (0261) 765891, 765516, or 773386/E-mail: Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum), Kerala - T.C. 224/ 1485, WC Hospital Rd., Thycaud, 695 014/ Tel. (0471) 328197/ E-mail: Tirupati, AP - K.T. Rd., Vinayaka Nagar, 517 507/ Tel. (0877) 2230114 or 2230009/ E-mail:


Calendar for the Month of January 2006

JANUARY 2- Sri Jiva Gosvami Disappearance. Sri JagadiSa Pandita Disappearance. JANUARY lO-Fasting for Putrada Ekadasi JANUARY ll-ParalfaTimingfor Mumbai- 7.l4am-1O.55 am JANUARY 14-Sri Km1a Pusya Abhiseka. Makara Saitkranti(Sun enters Capricorn) Sri Ganga Sagara Mela. JANUARY 19- 5ri Ramchandra Kaviraja Gosvami. Srila Gopal Bhatta Gosvami Appearance.


JANUARY 20- Srila Jayadeva Gosvami Disappearance.


JANUARY 20- Srila Locana dasa Thakura Disappearance. Imphal observe on nnd January.

Bhaktivedanta Swami Marg, Raman Reti, Mathura Dist.,

JANUARY 26-TrisPrsa MahadvadaS'i L


Kri shna-Balaram


281 124/ Tel. (0565) 254-0021/ Fax: (0565) 254-0053/ E-mail:;





Fasting for Sat-tila Ekadasi.

JANUARY 27- ParalfaTiming for Mumbai- 7.14 am -

Warangal, AP - Mulugu Rd., Ayappa Pidipally, 506 007/ Tel. (08712) 426182

~ lO.5~am .~

Udhampur, J&K Srila Prabhupada Ashram, SrilaPrabhupada Marg, Srila Prabhupada Nagar/ Tel. (01992) 270298, 276146 Vallabh Vidyanagar, Gujarat - ISKCON, Opposite Polytechnic, 388121/ Tel. (02692) 230796 or 233012 Varanasi, UP - ISKCON, B 27/80 Durgakund Rd., Near Durgakund Police Station, Varanasi 221 010. Tel. (0542) 276422 or 222617 Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh - Venkatapalem Karakatta Rd., Undavalli Village, Tadepalli MandaI, Vijayawada, Guntur Dist. 522501/ Tel. (08645) 272513 Vishakapatnam, AP ISKCON, 7-5-108 Pandurangapuram Beach Rd., 530003/ Tel. (0891) 2528376.



January 2006 â&#x20AC;˘





Saved from death ....

(Continued from page 7) primary duty of human life. And this should be taught from the very beginning of life. Just see these pious chil-

they h ad n ever seen such fine-looking men. The Vi~l}udatas h ad four arms and looked ve ry nice . In Vaikul}~h a the peo ple look exactly like N arayal}a. We find a perverted reflection in this world:

dren who are dancing here, taking part

just as the president has two arms, we

in this meeting. This path of Kr$l).a-realization is so nice that even a child can take patt in it. These young children h ave no education, they h ave no knowledge, but th e method is so nice that they can also take part. They can enj oy dancing and ch anting with their fathers and mothers. There are many yoga systems, but this bhakti-yoga system is so perfect that both the grandfather of the child and the child himself can take part in it. The children a re dancing here, and so metimes they are ch anting, and a ll these things are going to their spiritual credit. The Deity worship has been introduced for the general public. Anyone can come and see the Deity, chant the Hare K!-"$:r:ta mantra, dance a little, play the karatalas-someway or other, if somebody engages in Kr$J)3'S service, that will be cr edited to his acco unt K!-"$l).a will co n sider. "Yes, this li ving entity h as advanced so much." Therefore, in th e Bhagavad-gita K!-"$l).3 says, sva lpa m apy asya dharm as ya tra ya te mahato-bhayat: "Even if you do very little of this process of bhakti-yoga, it

also have twO arms. In Vaiku1).~ha the "president" is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. And since H e has four arms. the inhabitants there all have four arms and other bodil y features similar to His. So, the Yamadutas were surprised.

can save you from the greatest danger in

life." The perfect example is Ajamila. In the beginning of his life Ajamila executed some service to the Lord under the instructions of his father. That was to his cr edit So wh en h e became a firstclass sinful man and was dying, somehow or other he chanted the name of Narayal}.a and was saved. A s soon as he uttered the name Narayal)a, he became eligible to be transported to Vaikul}~ha. Immediately Naray31).3 sent his men, the Vi ~1)uduta s , saying hGo and save this man. H e is being h a rassed by th e YamadG ras." The Yamadutas were taking Ajamila away, but th e messen ge rs from VaikUI).~ha said, "No, you cannot take this man." The Yamadfitas were surpris ed: "Oh, who are these beautiful persons]" The

Yamadatas were very odd-looking, and




Janlllily 2006

They said, "You look so gentle, so nice.

sian] is ve ry strong. A s soon as she gets the o pportunity, sh e immediately captures us. Therefore one should try strenuously to avoid sinful activities if one actually wants relief from the cycle of birth and death. One must seriously execute Kr~l).a consciousness by following the rules and regulations and chanting the Hare Kr~l).a mantra . If one follows this simple proce ss , on e will be saved fr om Mrt yu, Yama ra ja. Thank you very much. ~

Why are you stopping us from performing our duty? This man is sinful. It is our duty to take him to Yamaraja, Mrtyu." There was an ar g ument, and the Yamadatas' attempt was foiled by the Vi~l).udutas .

When the Yamadutas returned to their master, Yamaraja, they were disappointed. They said, "This is th e first time that somebody h as taken from our h ands a person who was meant to be brought here. Is there some personality greater than your' Yamaraja explained, " Yes. I am a servant of Nara yal).a. " T hen Yamaraja advised them, "N ever go to a devotee. It is not your jurisdiction." Just as the duty of the police is to arrest criminals, n ot gentlemen, so the duty of Yamaraj a servants is to take only sinful men to his jurisdiction, not devotees. Those who are devotees are naturally sinless. That is confirmed in the Bhagavad-gita [7.28): ye ~am tv anta-gatam papam jananam pUl}ya-karmal}am/ te dvandva-mohanirmukta bhajante mam dr;lha ¡vrataJ:>. "Without becoming sinless, one cannot completely devote himself to Kr~l}a consciousness." In other words, a person can be completely engaged in Knl).a consciousness only if he is sinless. Of course, even if there is a little tinge of sin, if one becomes Kr~l).a conscious it is gradually eliminated. But one sh ould be very ale rt to avoid sinful activities. It is not that one sh ould think. "Because I am Kr~l).a co nscious, there is no ch ance th at I will sin. After all, by chanting the H are Krsl}a mantra I am getting out of the jurisdiction o f sinful activities." One should never think like this. We should be very alert to avoid sin, because Maya [illu-

Great Vaishnava Women ....

(Continued from page 7) der and Psychotherapy and Culture C onfli ct. H ave you seen th ese books! Q: No. S: I suggest you research your subject before you discuss it. These books were the landmark scientific publications that proved once and for all that "cerebral asymmetry" definitely exists between men and women. Dr. Seward, by the way, is a woman. So I don't think you can call this "an old men's ta le ." [Laughter.) You see, in our search for perfect egalitarianism, we are terribly afraid to admit that there are differences between sexes, or races, or nationalities, or living beings of any group at all. Somehow the possibility that physical or psycho logical differences of any sort exist strikes fear that this will be equated with superi ority or inferiority of ce rtain groups. But th e d enial that differen ces exist, whether bi ological or otherwise, only leads to absurdities. Indeed, it is the denial of our own humanity. We cannot respect differences among people unless we first admit them. This is nOt sexism or racism-it is merely common sense. Bibliography Bhakti-ratnakara, N arah ari CakravartI. Caitanya -bhagavata , Vrndava na dasa Thakura. Caitanya-caritamrta, Kr~l).adasa Kaviraja G osvamI. Prema-vilasa, Nityananda dasa. C oming to Kr~l}a â&#x201A;Ź)

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