The Sound of God
Satyaraja Dasa’s recent article “What Does God Sound Like?” [Jan/Feb 2015] nicely elaborated on this fascinating theme central to all religious conviction, especially within our personalist Vaishnava tradition. And he very relevantly quoted Srila Prabhupada’s famous description of the beneficial effects of chanting Hare Krishna, which “springs automatically from the spiritual platform,” allowing anyone “to take part . . . and dance in ecstasy.” And that experience of spiritual bliss is the living proof that Krishna is God and that through His own name we can all have such a direct access to His divine nature.
There is another access to Krishna’s blissful nature, which was also briefly referred to: any selfless prayer chanted with devotion. Such selfless prayer I understand to be the pure soul’s innate surge of loving praise for Krishna’s supreme glories. And such pure loving glorification is the essence of all perfect souls, such as Srila Prabhupada. Hearing the sound of such lovers of God affords one a foretaste, a living sample of God’s own sound and blissful nature. Such is the divine force flowing throughout the sankirtana movement; thus it also sustains ISKCON’s distribution of God’s own names, full of His living, blissful sound.
ISKCON Montreal, Canada
Krishna and the Universe
Is the whole universe within Krishna?
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Our reply: Yes, the entire universe is within Krishna. As we learn from in the Vedic literature, Krishna expands as Maha-Vishnu, from whom emanate an unlimited number of universes. Then, by His mystic opulence, Krishna also permeates the universe with what He describes in the Bhagavad-gita as His “unmanifested form.” And sometimes He reveals His personal form within the universe as well. He is inside, outside, and in between. With our limited material senses there is no way to grasp His supreme mysticism.
Your Jan/Feb edition was simply stupendous. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. All the articles – in particular “The Nature of the Self” – were most comprehensive and informative. Thank you. All glories to your team! Srila Prabhupada will be pleased.
An Avid Reader
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Body and Soul
Does the soul always require a body to express itself? If not, then what does the soul think or do after quitting one body and before entering into another body?
Our reply: The soul does not need a material body to express itself. The soul has a spiritual form with spiritual senses. That form is made of eternity, knowledge, and bliss, and in that form the spiritual entity eternally serves Krishna, the Supreme Lord. We are eternally individual spiritual beings, and we are temporarily covered by illusion. Our natural state is to serve God with love and devotion.
In the Srimad-Bhagavatam – in Lord Kapila’s instructions in the Third Canto, for example – you can read about what happens to conditioned souls at death. Those who have neglected the human obligation to advance in God consciousness are taken by force to the abode of Yamaraja, where they are judged according to their deeds. They are destined for a new body according to the consciousness they developed during their human life.
But the liberated souls are sober upon leaving the body, having realized who they are beyond the gross and the subtle body; that is, they know they are the eternal servants of Krishna. In that consciousness they depend on Krishna for their next destination, and Krishna takes such surrendered souls back home to Him.
Prabhupada and the Environment
“Recycle, Reduce, Reuse” is the mantra for nature. What is Prabhupada’s opinion?
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Our reply: Srila Prabhupada liked the phrase “simple living and high thinking,” and he himself practiced, and encouraged his followers to practice, the same principles implied by the “Recycle, Reduce, Reuse” slogan. He taught that the earth is a person, a goddess who is the consort of the Lord, and so a God conscious person naturally wants to lead an ecologically responsible life.
According to Prabhupada, if we become Krishna conscious, if we have Krishna conscious leaders, and if we serve Krishna, then Krishna will give us plenty of everything and we will naturally be careful about our treatment of Mother Earth and Mother Cow. This brings auspiciousness.
The Vedic scriptures give this example: If you want to water a tree, you don’t have to water each leaf and branch, but you simply pour water on the roots, and the whole tree will be supplied with water. Similarly, when Krishna, the root of everything, is pleased, then He will supply us in abundance with all we need to serve Him. If we abuse nature for our sense gratification, our greed and lust will destroy the planet and make our lives more and more miserable.
Explanation of Arati Items
While performing arati, why do we offer incense, a ghee lamp, water, cloth, flowers, a camara fan, and a peacock fan?
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Our reply: The Hari-bhakti-vilasa, a guidebook for devotees written by Sanatana Goswami, one of Lord Chaitanya’s main disciples, says that the
articles of arati represent the material elements in their pure form and correspond to the sense objects. In other words, the a rati articles are satisfying to the senses and represent our offering all the elements in the Lord’s creation back to the Lord for His satisfaction.
The conch shell blown at the beginning and end of each arati drives away inauspicious elements. The sound of the bell is dear to the Lord and embodies all music. Flowers and incense provide beautiful aromas for the Lord’s pleasure. The ghee lamp represents lighting someone’s way. Offering water in the conch shell represents offering arghya, a mixture of auspicious items offered above or touched to the head of an honored guest as
part of reception. It is a way to welcome the Lord and make Him feel at home. The handkerchief represents offering new cloth. The yak-tail ca mara and the peacock fan are both aspects of kingly service. The camara keeps flies away (though it may be purely ceremonial as well), while the peacock fan provides a cooling breeze.