Awe and Reverence More Realistic
I’m reading about Krishna bhakti, and although undoubtedly the ultimate in terms of God love, it really seems beyond my capacity at present. Becoming fixed in reverential worship of Him as Sri Vishnu seems a lot closer to my present nature. More attainable or realistic.
What to speak of spotlessly pure, selfless devotion, I’ve hardly thought of God in my life! Is there any fault or loss in focusing more on reverential, regulated, dutiful service? Will the Lord be unhappy with me?
Via the Internet
Our reply: Even in ISKCON we worship the Lord in reverence. It is only when one is a liberated soul situated in pure bhakti that one can relate to the Lord with familiarity and intimacy.
Technically, even though ISKCON temples have deities of Radha-Krishna, They are receiving our worship as Lakshmi-Narayana. Temple worship is always in the mood of awe and reverence.
The direct worship of Radha-Krishna is done in our eternal forms as gopis, gopas, etc., in Goloka Vrindavana. That is a very lofty goal, but one we should aspire to. Our progress begins with regulated service in awe and reverence; gradually spontaneous intimate devotion arises. That is the path given to us by Srila Prabhupada and the other spiritual masters in the line of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
So your situation is not different from that of devotees worshiping Radha-Krishna in our present impure condition.
Thanks to the Youth
I would like to thank the youth of the Hare Krishna movement who have “stepped up to bat” to write for BTG and other publications as well as take responsibility in different areas of Krishna consciousness. This movement will continue to change the world. There is so much preaching to be done. So please try to take part in whatever way you can. May Krishna bless you more and more in your endeavors.
We first-generation ISKCON devotees are certainly not getting any younger, and I’m beginning to feel more hopeful that Srila Prabhupada’s movement will go on nicely after we’re gone.
Madana Mohana Mohini Dasi
Sandy Ridge, North Carolina
Why Tulasi Beads?
I was told that devotees wear tulasi beads all the time because after death (which may occur at any time) the Yamadutas [messengers of the god of death] will not be able to approach the soul, and the Vishnudutas [messengers of Lord Vishnu] will definitely come and take the soul back to Godhead. How do tulasi beads on the body protect the soul after its departure?
Via the Internet
Our reply: Devotees wear tulasi beads for several reasons. One is that they mark a person as Krishna’s servant. Srila Prabhupada compared them to a dog collar. “We are Krishna’s dog,” he would say. “We are servants; He is master.”
Another reason is that tulasi is sacred. She is all-auspicious, and simply by touching her, karmic reaction is minimized and the tendency to act in a pious way is increased.
Still another reason is that tulasi beads identify us as a Gaudiya Vaishnavas, followers of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Tilaka and tulasi are signs of a practicing devote. Srila Prabhupada encouraged us to wear both all the time, even when dressed in Western clothes, to identify ourselves as Gaudiya Vaishnava devotees of Sri Krishna.
Finally, there are the reasons you stated. A body adorned with tilaka and tulasi indicates to the Yamadutas and Vishnudutas that this body was used in Krishna’s service and therefore should not be treated as sinful. Please refer to the story of Ajamila in the Sixth Canto of the Srimad-Bhagavatam.
Desiring to See God
I’m an engineering student and quite a spiritual person. Can I see Lord Krishna and Lord Rama on my own? I want to talk to them. I want to see them without opening my eyes, but with my third eye. Is that possible?
Via the Internet
Our reply: You can certainly see and talk with Krishna, but as you suggest in your letter, it is not possible to really see Him with material eyes. One must have transcendental vision, which comes from “anointing the eyes with the salve of love of Godhead.” And that comes from rendering loving devotional service to the Lord under the guidance of someone who already has done that and has achieved a high degree of spiritual vision.
Being able to associate with the Lord is not a cheap thing. It cannot be purchased, or even earned by doing certain things. There is no quick formula for opening the transcendental vision. Those who say that by practicing some technique for a few months one can see God through the “third eye” are bluffing.
In the material world we are trained to get things very quickly and with as little investment as possible. This is not the case with the darshana of the Lord. The Lord is in the heart of every living entity. He knows not just what we do but also the state of our heart, mind, and consciousness. In Bhagavad-gita Lord Krishna tells Arjuna that He is speaking with him because Arjuna is sinless, without envy, and His dear friend. The devotee aspires to develop these qualities, wanting to serve the Lord with selfless devotion, free from personal desire. When the Lord detects such an attitude, then from within the heart He “destroys with the shinning lamp of knowledge the darkness born of ignorance.” (Bhagavad-gita 10.10–11) In this way Lord Krishna or Lord Rama rewards the devotee with pure devotion.
So if you want to see the Lord and speak to Him, you should follow the process given by the Lord Himself. Find and follow a spiritual master who is a servant of the Lord, and in time you too will develop pure love of God, which is the qualification for knowing, seeing, and talking with Him.
Hope for the Hectic Professional
I’m a professional with a hectic schedule. How can I manage my time for devotion to Lord Krishna?
Via the Internet
Our reply: The best way to manage to fit devotional service into your busy schedule is to try to offer everything you do, or some portion of everything you do, to Krishna. For example, offer your skills or the fruits of your work to Lord Krishna. Offer to help at a temple and use your skills for the benefit of the deity, the temple, and the devotees.
In Chapter Twelve of Bhagavad-gita Lord Krishna gives several alternatives for conducting the process of devotional service. You can read that chapter for guidance.
Krishna also says that offering Him a little water, a fruit, or a flower with love constitutes devotional service. Prayer and chanting—especially chanting Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare—are devotional service. They will clean personal desire from your heart and allow you to focus on rendering loving service to Krishna. These acts of devotion can be done in the car or on a train—anywhere. For example, you can chant softly to yourself or listen to devotional music, books, or lectures.
The ultimate barometer of devotional service is the love with which the offering is made. Lord Krishna has everything, but anyone who renders Him service with love, free from envy, becomes His friend and devotee. So it is not what you do so much as how you do it.
Arjuna was fighting on a battlefield, and Krishna told him, “Fight and think of me.”
Try to put Krishna into your thoughts, and whenever possible offer some part of your work or the fruits of your work to Him. He will be happy and will reciprocate according the degree of devotion in your offering.