Krishna’s Indian Look
My wife likes the information in the Bhagavad-gita and Srila Prabhupada’s other books but struggles with believing God to be the visual image we see in the paintings. “He looks too Indian.” I say that the spiritual knowledge we read is relevant for everyone, but I can’t help agreeing with her a bit about the image of God as Krishna looking Indian. I say, “If he wore a shirt and tie, would that be better?” But she just looks at me funny. What’s your advice?
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Reply: Some people say they would like to picture Krishna in different ways, and that’s okay. But Lord Brahma describes Him in a specific way in his Brahma-samhita and elsewhere. He is very beautiful, and our pictures surely don’t do Him justice. Though the scriptures describe Him, it is hard for us to imagine how the supreme beautiful person looks, because He is spiritual and we are in material consciousness. When we are purified, then He will reveal His form to us.
Prabhupada often said that we can “see” God by hearing about Him. He is in your heart, so try to take your meditation – your chanting and “seeing” – there, deep within your heart, and see what happens. The artists’ eyes are conditioned by what they have experienced, and that influences their art. But don’t let the pictures mislead you or disappoint you. Become self-realized and let the soul enjoy His beauty when the real you sees Him face to face.
The Problem of Envy
How to overcome envy?
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Reply: We envy God and want to take His place. That’s the source of all of our problems. Now we have to learn our lesson. The best process to overcome envy is to serve the person we envy, especially when that person is Krishna. Service is humbling and purifying. To help us serve Him, Krishna offers us the process of bhakti, devotional service, performed under the instructions of His representative, the spiritual master.
By surrendering to the guru, one learns submissiveness and respect for others. This will wear away some of our contamination, and we can then realize that we are not “number one” under any terms. We are all subservient to Krishna. In fact, we are servants of His servants. Acting according to our natural position as servants makes us happy. We can joyfully serve the Lord and reciprocate in loving exchanges with Him.
We can learn the art of pleasing someone besides ourselves. As it is said, “Giving is better than receiving.” Many people find this to be true in ordinary life. That’s because by nature we are eternal loving servants of the Lord.
How can we make our faith in God stronger and more steady day by day?
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Reply: The more we know about Krishna, the more our faith in Him will increase. Just as with any other relationship, one has to regularly hear about, associate with, and serve the other person. Bhakti-yoga is that kind of process. It begins with hearing Krishna’s instructions, studying His character and glories, chanting His holy names, and serving Him. It is a joyful process that anyone can do.
Hear from someone who really knows Krishna, like His direct representative in the form of the spiritual master. Krishna’s teachings are there in the Bhagavad-gita, and His glories are expounded elaborately in Srimad-Bhagavatam. In our temples we have daily classes about Krishna’s teachings and activities, and everyone is invited to attend. Classes can be seen and heard on temple live webcams too.
Adopt a sacred place and time in your life to connect with Krishna. You can get beads and chant a set amount of japa every day, read some verses, listen to classes (many are available on iskcondesiretree.com), and begin some regular service to Him. It is important to be regular, as this will increase your strength. It is best to do these activities in the association of advanced devotees. Adopt these good spiritual habits, and you will find yourself coming closer to your old friend, Sri Krishna. He is waiting for you.
Going to God
How will you go to God’s dhama [abode]?
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Reply: To connect with Lord Krishna, He recommends that we hear about Him, chant His names, and glorify Him. When we are fully connected with Him in love, we will go to Him.
Krishna is present in His name, instructions, and service, and we can easily take advantage of these things. Anyone, anywhere, can take to the path of bhakti, devotional service. The Hare Krishna maha-mantra is especially potent and easily available in this age of many distractions.
We can glorify Krishna by telling others about Him, distributing His Bhagavad-gita, and engaging in congregational chanting. Hearing daily from the Gita and the Bhagavatam increase our memory of Him during the day. Another enjoyable process is to honor Krishna’s prasadam – food prepared for and offered to Him – which is identical to Him.
The whole process is easy and perfect. You can fix your mind on Krishna while you are doing service for Him and when you are doing your normal activities. We try to “Krishnaize” all that we do by offering it for Krishna’s pleasure. Join us in our temples, where these activities are going on every day as we strive to make ourselves fit to enter His abode.
I am going through hard times. I cannot focus on my work. My level of confidence goes high, but after some time it goes way down. What should I do? What verses of the Gita will help me?
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Reply: Material life is full of ups and downs, but it is temporary. Our problems will soon be insignificant. Our main problem is to concentrate on our service to Krishna, whatever it may be. Don’t let those little problems overwhelm you, but get absorbed in solving the problem of repeated birth and death.
Reading the Gita and chanting the holy names are the most effective means for fixing the mind on Krishna. The sixth chapter of the Gita describes how to deal with the mind, and chanting is a good exercise in focusing on Him and coming closer to Him. The combination is joyful and enlivening.
Studying the Gita with others and having bhajana and kirtana together is very effective. Cry out to Krishna to please accept your service, and be grateful for all that He has given you. He is there to help you come closer to Him, and He may put some impediments in your way just to increase your attachment to Him and increase your dislike of material things. Try to see everything as His plan, and take shelter of His teachings and holy names.