Keats’s Immortal Bird

I refer to an article of your September/October 2014 issue, entitled “Taking Shelter.” It reminded me of a poem I learnt many, many years back at school, “Ode to a Nightingale,” where the author, Keats, explores deeply the theme of the mortality of the human life. In this ode, the transience of life and the tragedy of old age, “Where palsy shakes a few, sad, last gray hairs,/ Where youth grows pale, and spectre-thin, and dies;” is set against the eternal renewal of the nightingale’s fluid music: “Thou wast not born for death, immortal Bird!”

At that time, I was basking in complete ignorance of the truth that we are not this body but an eternal soul. Escapism, as Keats was longing for, is just an illusion in this material world. I indeed thank Srila Prabhupada for revealing the truth of self-realization to us. I am lucky to have been introduced to the chanting of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra, unlike Keats, who was looking for solace and shelter in a “draught of vintage” in order to forget the “weariness, the fever, and the fret” of human life, with its consciousness that everything is mortal and nothing lasts.
Indira Manrakhan
Port Louis, Mauritius

An Appreciation

Chaitanya Charana Dasa has a brilliant mind. His article in the September/October issue – “Do You Still Believe in God?” – is full of depth and wonderfully presented. In general, his articles touch the heart. They are captivating and very clearly clear away doubts in devotees as well as nondevotees. It is wonderful to see ISKCON producing such erudite scholars and realized devotees.
Nijunja Vilasini Dasi
Durban, South Africa

Forget the Past

How can we forget our past deeds, which are always on our mind and troubling in our day-to-day lives? I know that chanting Hare Krishna helps, but after a few minutes we come back to our normal thoughts that are harassing us. Please solve this problem or give me suggestions.
Radha Krushn
Via the Internet

Our reply: We must understand that Krishna sees us from the inside out. In other words, He is in our hearts. He understands our mood of remorse and our willingness to change, and He appreciates our sincere desire to serve Him at any given moment.

Remembering our past misdeeds can help us avoid a repeat performance. When we think of the foolish and awful things we did, we become more careful to avoid those behaviors.

Actually, what is harassing us is our sense of guilt, described as the thoughts that fill the space between who we are and who we want to be. But if we can accept that we made a mistake and that Lord Krishna is very kind and will forgive us as long as we avoid the same mistake again, then we can become stronger and more determined to pray for the mercy of Krishna and His devotees. We can move forward in spiritual life without letting memories inspire guilt that incapacitates us and prevents us from focusing on the present.

Try to keep busy in service to Lord Krishna and His devotees. When your mind is busy reading, chanting, and doing practical service, it won’t dwell on mistakes or material attachments, both of which prevent positive spiritual thought.

The Post of Brahma

I have heard that Lord Vishnu, Shiva, and Durga are names of persons whereas Lord Brahma is a position. Please educate me on this.
K. V. Rao
Via the Internet

Our reply: Yes, Vishnu, Shiva, and Durga are eternal persons. Lord Vishnu is the Personality of Godhead. Lord Shiva is almost on the same level as Lord Vishnu but is in a slightly lower category because He is in touch with Durga, who controls the material energy.

Brahma, on the other hand, is a position occupied by a jiva soul – that is, a soul like you or me. We are spiritual energy but very small, and so we become covered by the material energy. When the material energy is withdrawn into Lord Maha-Vishnu, then there is no Brahma, that post being filled only when the creation exists.

Curious About Hare Krishna

Hello. I am very interested in the Hare Krishna movement. I’ve read about it, but I have a few questions. What is the Hare Krishna movement exactly? How do you recruit members? Do you allow everyone into the movement? What evidences are there of God’s existence?
Via the Internet

Our reply: The Hare Krishna movement is meant to help people reconnect with Krishna (God) by offering them an opportunity to associate with likeminded people guided by the instructions of His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. The movement has temples and meetings all over the world where people get together to chant Hare Krishna, read the Vedic literature, talk about Krishna, and cooperate to revive their loving relationship with Krishna.

Anyone can be a member who is sincerely interested in taking part in the process and connecting with Krishna. We spread Krishna consciousness by chanting Hare Krishna in the streets, inviting people to feast and chant with us, and offering many books about the philosophy and practice of Krishna consciousness.

As for evidence that God exists, it is all around you. The seasons, the beauty of life and nature, the complexity of the human body and animal bodies, the order of the universe – all show that someone with incredible intelligence is behind the creation. Science may try to explain this world, but the creator of the world is far more intelligent than anyone within it. Furthermore, we can experience our relationship with God by chanting His holy name, as in this mantra: Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. If you concentrate on the sound of this mantra, you will come to experience your relationship with Krishna.