Inspired by Selfless Sacrifice
The Nov/Dec 2014 edition of Back to Godhead provided interesting content. If I had to single out any particular one, the “Inspiring Journey” of Bhagavan Malwadkar was my favored read. To embark on the journey that he did was nothing short of selfless sacrifice. His passion for his door-to-door distribution of BTG perhaps epitomized this servant of Krishna as a true believer in the glory of the master. May those hardworking hands now rest, and may he be comforted in the knowledge that he ran a good race.
Durban, South Africa
Happy at the Temple, Challenged at Home
Hare Krishna. I am a family woman who has been going to an ISKCON temple with my family for most Janmashtami celebrations and on Sundays. I have a feeling of fulfillment and contentment while I am in the temple, but I find that when I come home all the happiness slowly disappears. When I chant, my mind starts to wander all different directions.
I would like to ask you: I cook non-veg in the house for the family. What are the results of cooking non-veg while having brass deities of Gaura-Nitai in a small mandir?
What are the simple ways I can be a better person and make space in my mind to be a Krishna devotee?
[Name withheld on request]
Via the Internet
Our reply: That you feel fulfilled and content when coming to the temple shows that when surrounded by the Lord and His devotees you are entering into the spiritual atmosphere with your mind and heart and developing a taste for spiritual life. This naturally brings peace and happiness. Fortunately that spiritual atmosphere can be created everywhere, and to the degree that you can replicate it, you can find the same sense of satisfaction and contentment you enjoy when at the temple.
In all facets of life we should re-create that atmosphere, which must permeate deep down into our very consciousness. Every devotee has the responsibility to do whatever is possible to keep the mind and senses focused on Krishna and Krishna’s service throughout the day and night. Using everything, as much as possible, to serve Him for His satisfaction will allow us to feel His presence and the wonderful relationship with Him that is our natural, constitutional position.
Lord Krishna told Arjuna, who was on a battlefield, to “fight and think of Me.” Even as a warrior Arjuna had to focus his mind on Krishna’s order and use his skills as a soldier in the Lord’s service. So it must be with us on the battlefield called material life.
In this age of Kali, the time of quarrel and hypocrisy, keeping our consciousness focused requires great determination and practice. Especially in the beginning, our mind and senses are easily distracted and drawn toward getting pleasure and avoiding misery from whatever we are interacting with. Our close relationships, the material objects we use for entertainment, the pains and pleasures of our body and mind, the stresses and distractions of our daily material lives – all suck our energy and make us forget the true source of happiness, our relationship with Krishna.
Considering this, we must work diligently to bring into our lives at every step remembrance of Krishna and the real goal of life – developing a loving, service-oriented relationship with Him. We need to do whatever we can to pull our minds back to Krishna’s holy name. Daily reading, chanting, and hearing are all part of the process. What we do with our time and what we think of when we do our daily activities can either help keep our minds fixed on Krishna or make us forget Him.
In the situation you describe, it sounds like you are “charging your batteries” too infrequently to maintain the consciousness you relish and long for. So you need to analyze your way of life and systematically bring more Krishna into it. Pictures of the spiritual world, time to read spiritual books, association with devotees (even virtually), worship of your deities, and spiritual sounds can all be helpful.
The other side of the process involves avoiding, as much as practical, things that have sinful reactions or drag your consciousness away from Krishna. Whenever possible these things, like cooking meat for your family, should be avoided. If it is impossible to completely avoid such things, then try to minimize and neutralize them by adding large doses of Krishna.
For example, you can try playing Krishna chants in the house or singing songs about Him while you cook. Also, you can prepare as many things as possible that are suitable to offer Krishna and are tasty and might be enjoyable for your family. Offer them to the Lord and then to your family. In this way you can gradually change their consciousness and inspire them to enjoy a higher taste. You can also explain the value of vegetarianism to your family. Tell them how it will help their health and offer other good reasons why it is better for them to avoid the bad habit of eating meat. In general, work to minimize your participation in this activity. And surround yourself with spiritual thoughts and opportunities to increase your remembrance of Krishna.
If you can help raise the consciousness of your family, that will be a great accomplishment. Lord Krishna will be very happy. So be gentle and loving and do all your duties well, but at the same time maintain your spiritual strength and focus on Lord Krishna. Then your cooking and intermittent offering of tasty prasada, your chanting, and your happy and focused countenance will all work together to sustain your own consciousness and draw your family closer to Krishna and His service.
The Power of Bhakti
“For one who remembers Me without deviation, I am easy to obtain, O son of Pritha, because of his constant engagement in devotional service.” What does this verse in the Bhagavad-gita mean?
Via the Internet
Our reply: Krishna is confirming that He is pleased when someone is devoted to Him and serves Him with love. He assures that He will accept such a person back into His kingdom. Krishna says elsewhere that He is so pleased with loving service that He finds it impossible to repay the devotee and is purchased by that love. Such is the power of bhakti, which is identical to the Lord.
Most of us have a long way to go in achieving that level of devotion, but bhakti begins by chanting Krishna’s holy names. In the Bhagavad-gita Krishna is encouraging us conditioned souls with nice verses like this one. We should take up the chanting without deviation and without offense, begging for service, so that we can start to revive that loving spirit.