Vanity thought #1605. Random fit

There are some Christians who love to open their Bible and pick random verses to find answers to their pertinent problems. There are also those who don’t think it works. When it does, however, they tell everyone about this “miracle”. It’s hard to take these claims seriously, mostly because the connections look very stretched and, with enough imagination, you can probably connect each and every verse with anything you want.

Anyway, I had a few spare minutes today and I decided to read a random verse from our books, too. I had a mobile phone with me and I thought it would be a perfect randomizer. Phones screens are still relatively small so if you want to pick a link that you want you really have to read and watch where you are clicking, but phones are perfect for flipping the page to let it scroll however far it feels like going and then poking in the middle of the screen on whatever happens to be there. So I opened vedabase.com/en/sb/ and picked a random Bhāgavatam verse. TBH, it wasn’t really random – the selected Canto must be somewhere in the middle, then the selected chapter would be somewhere in the middle, too, and then the selected verse. There was a very little chance I’d pick SB 1.1.3 or something like that. I ended up with SB 7.7.8:

    Prahlāda Mahārāja said: My dear King, the source of my strength, of which you are asking, is also the source of yours. Indeed, the original source of all kinds of strength is one. He is not only your strength or mine, but the only strength for everyone. Without Him, no one can get any strength. Whether moving or not moving, superior or inferior, everyone, including Lord Brahmā, is controlled by the strength of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

Random or not, but this is a relatively famous śloka we all remember. Maybe not Sanskrit but the verse is certainly known to every devotee, we can’t tell the story of Prahlāda Mhārāja without mentioning it. I don’t want to sound superstitious but this could be considered a very good pick on any random day and it also fits perfectly with the theme of my recent half a dozen posts.

But first – the superstitious part. There’s no such thing as a superstition, it’s an atheist invention and there’s nothing more to it than that. I don’t mean that all superstitions are real and atheists are totally wrong about it, I mean that people who “believe” in them are atheists, too – because they do not see the Lord and His connection to every material or spiritual phenomenon. When they find what they think is such a connection, a proof of supernatural supervision, they still do not see all-pervasive nature of these “interventions”.

I mean how can they talk about “interventions” when the Lord controls movements of every single blade of grass? They still see the world as separate from the Lord and the Lord only occasionally interfering, and not even being subtle about it – because these “seers” of omens can predict His every move. Well, not every seer attributes superstitions to God’s hand but that makes them only slightly more atheistic than those who do. The Lord controls everything, in and out, in the past and the future, and He knows everything and He arranged everything to happen exactly like He wanted long long time ago. He might delegate running the universe but it doesn’t take away His complete cognizance. It’s also not a matter of how much He can be bothered to remember like it is with us, He remembers absolutely everything in full, including the future, so the verb “remember” doesn’t apply either, it’s as anthropomorphic as us assuming He’s got the same memory as us but better.

To be fair, I didn’t mean these people to be atheists in a sense of openly rejecting God’s existence, I meant they do not perceive Him and so act as if He isn’t there or as if His powers are very limited.

The more important part is the meaning of the verse itself – the Lord is the source of everyone’s power. The way we usually tell it we stop at that and continue onto how the Lord was the source of Prahlāda’s power, a five year old boy who defied the mightiest person in the universe, but let’s pause a little and contemplate other implications of this śloka, namely how the Lord was the source of Hiraṇyakaśipu’s power as well.

Normally, we’d acknowledge it in the sense that Hiraṇyakaśipu was misusing power he ultimately derived from the Lord and then we cheer justice being restored but let’s rewind it a little – “the demon’s power came from the Lord”, and let it sink in. Do we normally see the power of our opponents as coming from Kṛṣṇa? And why do we cheer defeat of such power? Why, if we know that everyone draws his power from Kṛṣṇa, we want to defeat and destroy them?

I think that’s the difference between us and Prahlāda Mahārāja, who is one of the principal mahājanas. He had absolutely no beef with his father and absolutely no desire to see His father defeated and deflated. We, in his place, would be all “let’s kill the demon, let’s show him who is the boss, someone must finally stop him.” It’s not a very mature approach – what we call a “demon” is nothing else but a display of Lord’s prowess.

Of course there’s also a matter of the soul occupying this particular corner of the universe being inimical towards God but we should know better than accept his deluded claims of ownership as real. When we do and demand that this soul was stripped off its demoniac powers we display the same delusional mentality as he does. It’s not his powers, it’s Lord’s powers. They never slipped out of Lord’s control and they never belonged to anybody else.

When we see a display of Lord’s might we should rather offer it respect and appreciation, how else would a devotee react? All learning, all remembrance, all ability to argue, all ability to fight – it all comes from the Lord, even if it’s used in so-called opposition to Gauḍiyā vaiṣṇavism. No one can oppose Gauḍiyā vaiṣṇavism just as no one can oppose Viṣṇu Himself, it is simply not possible.

What we see as opposition is only a display of our unfortunate ignorance – when we go along with other people’s foolish claims and accept them as substantial. They are clearly in illusion, what’s our excuse?

All the claims about other spiritual paths and methods being equal to and even superior to ours exist only on the material platform, they have no spiritual substance whatsoever, and so we shouldn’t lower ourselves to that level and entertain them for real. It’s like someone rolling his boogers, sticking them into his mouth, claiming that they are very tasty and nutritious, and offering you to try some, too. It’s insane, especially if coming from a grown up man, and you are not going to win that argument no matter what you try. Why would you want to step into this delusional world at all?

And at the same time all the arguments they bring, all the quotes, all the logic, all the support, are a display of Kṛṣṇa’s powers and as such deserves our worship. It’s not meant to harm us just as Prahlāda Mahārāja didn’t see his father as a threat to himself – it’s Lord’s energy and the only “harm” it could do is to our false ego.

A devotee literally doesn’t have enemies because “enemies” is a product of the illusion, for a devotee there’s only the Lord and His energies, and then other spirit souls relating to the Lord in their own manner. None of that is even remotely threatening, rather the opposite.

Fear is a product of māyā, as simple as that.

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Vanity thought #666. Beast looking for beauty

This is one of the most confusing parts of Christianity – the story of the Beast and his number. Vedas are filled with what modern people think is mythology and allegory but they actually make perfect sense to someone raised in that tradition. Beast story makes no sense at all.

They call it a prophecy but why? There always have been plenty of self-proclaimed seers in history, why make this particular book a part of New Testament? Jesus didn’t teach any of that and there aren’t any other books that describe visions of the future like Revelation does. It was the last book to be accepted in the canon precisely because of the doubts about its authenticity and relevance. Maybe it should be the first one to be dropped, too.

Culturally, however, it’s all over the place now, too late to scrap it as delirious ramblings. Now all non Christians have to prove that they are not followers of the False Prophet and that their religions are not inspired by Satan to lead people away from Christ.

We, as Hare Krishnas, need to explain why our God is black. Some Christians are still fixated on that – we worship the black god while their Jesus is the Lord of Light. Something is not right here.

I don’t know what to tell them. If they mean to say that all light in the universe comes from God and our Krishna is black so He can’t be a source of illumination then there’s no easy answer to that. Krishna doesn’t illuminate the universe, Sun does.

The source of transcendental light is brahmajyoti which is the light emanating from Krishna’s body but it’s not exactly like that because to create and illuminate the spiritual world He expands Himself into other forms, like Balarama and then Chaturvyuha, that’s where the light comes from. Krishna Himself, as resident of Vrindavana, does not illuminate anything but the hearts of His devotees. He’s too busy playing and He lets His expansions manage the lighting.

All of this is way too much for the average doubting Christian to digest, however. They used to having one God to rule us all but Krishna isn’t even a God, He’s a cowherd boy having the best time of His life. If we talk about their concept of God then we have to come down to the level of Lord Vishnu or maybe even Lord Brahma.

Then there’s the matter of Satan. In popular Christianity he is the one complementing God. God is good, Satan is bad, God is light, Satan is darkness, one cannot really exist without the other. Krishna is nothing like that, He is complemented only by His devotees. If we are looking for good vs evil fights then it’s again down to Lord Vishnu or even demigod levels and again, suras and asuras don’t complement each other.

They fight with each other from time to time but devotees are transcendental to their affairs and the best ones can actually be found in demonic camps – think Prahlada or Bali Maharaja.

This is what we often forget ourselves, too – that as devotees we should be indifferent to good or evil equally. Satan, or demons, aren’t God’s enemies, they can be His devotees performing thankless tasks for the Lord’s pleasure.

Without Hiranyakashipu there wouldn’t the Prahlad or Lord Nrisimha, without Ravana there wouldn’t be Ramayana, without Kamsa and others Krishna wouldn’t have any heroic deeds to perform and remember Him by. Without Abhumanyu and other gopis’ husbands there wouldn’t be that extra excitement of rasa dance.

There’s also the fact that both demigods and demons draw their power from the same source – Vishnu. Demons don’t admit it as generally they are non-devotees but that’s where the power actually comes from. Hiranyakashipu and Ravana wouldn’t be able to conquer the universe on their own, they both sought blessings of Lord Brahma who, in turn, gets them from Lord Vishnu.

Here’s an idea – if you are a demon bent on ruling everything you see then try to get Lord’s blessings anyway. Without Lord’s power and beauty you won’t achieve much and won’t impress anyone. That’s what the most famous demons in history did and even though they were killed by Vishnu those were glorious deaths in the battle, in service of the Lord. Or would you rather prefer quiet, peaceful end and being remembered only for your annoyances?

Our Vedic “beasts” are not the creatures of the dark, would the one bearing number 666 stand up and also seek Lord’s blessings of power and beauty?

Vanity thought #129. Krishna Unhinged Part II

Picking up from where I left off yesterday – I think I figured why Krishna appeared so unappealing in Buddhist Ghata Jataka, and structural failure of our perception of dharma.

First, it could be discounted as simple ignorance. People who compiled that version of the story presumed that Krishna was just a village ruffian on his first trip to the city, that His behavior was in no way justified. Ignorance is probably the best excuse, if they knew the background and intentionally didn’t tell us it would be just sinister.

Let’s imagine how it all looked from Kamsa minions side of the story. As a faithful subject/henchman, one would never admit to any of Kamsa’s wrongdoings which included murdering hundreds if not thousands of infants, some of them personally, just crashing the tiny newborn babies against the walls and pillars, maybe stomping on them or suffocating them. There was also a matter of sending countless demons and rakshasas to kill Krishna Himself.

So, pretending that none of this had ever happened, some imaginary Kamsa’s lawyer would attack Krishna for what He has done in response and holding Him to some lofty standards. “How dared He to enter Mathura uninvited”, for example. “How dared He to take garments meant for Kamsa, the king!” Suddenly it all becomes about rules and civility, forget that Kamsa set the wrestling match specifically to kill Krishna and Balarama. Actually, no, they never forget it, they just pretend Kamsa was an innocent victim there.

Next step would be to demand a full trial, the higher the court the better, and with jury, of course. There should be plenty of options to appeal, too, and there should be bail. The purpose, of course, is to keep Kamsa free to do whatever he wants including hutching new plans to assassinate Krishna. The general public, however, must be made to believe that all Kamsa wants is justice and fairness.

And it’s from this point of view, the position of the cheated public, that Krishna is described as an ungrateful villain in the Buddhist version.

I wonder if all our modern claims of justice are following the same path, too. Our “heroes” kill whoever they want under flimsiest pretenses yet to the world the preach complete faith in justice and fairness. Presumption of innocence is not applied to their enemies at all. A month ago they killed Osama Bin Laden without any trial, not even an attempt, not even a chance to present his version of what has happened with 9/11.

Surely, it looks as if Bin Laden had fully deserved his fate, but what do we really know about his involvement? Could it be that he just claimed the glory for himself, being appointed a symbol of terrorism/resistance? Could it be that he had no personal involvement with planning and execution at all? No one stopped to ask, and no one even pausing to ask now. There are some muted opinion pieces in non-US media about potential dangers of targeted assassinations but no one takes them seriously. It’s a good think they killed Osama, the common wisdom goes.

A few days ago they captured another mass murderer, Serbian Ratko Mladic. That guy was responsible for the worst case of genocide in Europe since World War II. Fifteen years he has been in hiding and now he is about to be brought to trial. Good.

Except people who are going to try him have been complicit in the genocide themselves. They just set back and watched and when shit hit the fan they feigned ignorance and lack of resources. In on account they even turned down the bombing mission against Ratko Mladic forces because paperwork hasn’t been filed properly. The planes just flew several circles above the troops slaughtering civilian men, women and children, and then turned back.

Now they are going to put it all on one man.

Some justice indeed.

Oh, even more, the whole hunt for Osama Bin Laden was illegal from the start to the finish. They got their first clue by torturing terrorist suspects in secret prisons outside of the US and outside US laws, and hidden from the public of the host countries, too. Then they set up surveillance in Pakistan without local authorities knowledge, and finally they executed the raid which was a straightforward challeng to Pakistani sovereignty, and they are saying they would do it again, laws be damned.

Though no, not actually, the laws will be praised and “upheld” – for public consumption, while the might makes right and people with power can abuse laws in any way they like.

So, I no longer wonder how it came to be that ordinary people might try to judge Krishna by these modern standards.

I also find it ridiculous that justice should be blind. The only thing it’s blind to is people with power to subvert it. That is the reality, the slogans for the rest of us are just that – slogans.

When Krishna came to restore dharma He most certainly didn’t mean our modern interpretation. I’m sure it counted as adharma in His view.

Actually the only acceptable dharma is to serve God. There’s no such thing as “blind” justice at all. Blind justice denies the supremacy of the God by definition, it might be the only way a demoniac society can function but for people who believe in God there should be no blindness at all.

As I said yesterday – in a demoniac society everyone looks for equality because they all want to be equal – equal to God. Everybody deserves the same rights and freedoms because everybody’s born equal – equal to God.

We, as devotees, should always remember this fundamental flaw in modern interpretation of justice and fairness when we try to explain why Krishna did this and that.

How did Buddhist got caught up in this, too? I can only speculate, but, let’s not forget – they don’t have any special position for God, too. They are all equal in their impersonal understanding of the world and the creation. Everybody can become Buddha, and Buddha wasn’t God, He was just one of us who advanced further than anyone else.

I can see how their denial of the existence of the Supreme Autocrat can lead to blaming Krishna for what He did to Kamsa, and, ultimately, how that kind of philosophy can lead the rest of us to the travesty of justice that passes off as law in our days.

God, it looks like I can’t finish this story today, too.

Vanity thought #103. Demonizing myself.

It is actually a popular topic – stressing various demoniac qualities that can manifest in our service. I suppose that way we can recognize and uproot them.

In the past couple of months I’ve heard about Keshi demon who personified pride in our own achievements then Ravana who personified enjoying Lord’s properties. Everyone can find quite a bit of Ravana in himself if you define it that way. On the other hand, it’s clear that none of us are actually Ravana’s followers. Yes, we tend to enjoy things that are not meant for OUR enjoyment but we are not nearly as bad as stealing Lord’s consorts.

Even if the argument is that in the matter of principle any enjoyment of Lord’s properties is demoniac, that by taking what’s His we imagine ourselves to be equal to God, and that is the worst mistake a devotee can make – it’s downright impersonalism, because being equal to God means denying His and ours personal characteristics, which are of Master-Servant nature, no way around it. Thus the only place were we are equal to God is in brahmajyoti, and I don’t know what’s worse – aspiring for dissolution in Brahman or telling Krishna He doesn’t really exist.

Either way it’s bad, but there’s a counterargument to this, too. Yes, taking anything from the Lord might lead to impersonalism, but so is assuming that there’s no difference between Sita Devi and a banana.

We are not Ravanas by any stretch, I believe the comparison is usually made for the dramatic effect. “I am really Ravana” realization is supposed to make us feel humble and show remorse. In my case, I’m afraid, it doesn’t work anymore. I need more penetrating comparisons.

Of course I will find a counterargument to the next generation dramatic effect, too. Then there will be a need for even more drama. There’s no end to this apparently, time is the only constraint.

Or I might eventually become humble and the need will disappear.

Would betting on it be in violation of no gambling?

Anyway, today I came up with something in the similar vein and today’s villain is none other than Hiranyakashipu. Not from the days of trying to kill his son, though.

Just after Lord Varaha killed his brother, Hiranyaksha, Hiranyakashipu was full or rage, revenge on Vishnu was in order. Hiranyakashipu grabbed a trident and went after the Lord.

He was really, really angry, he was angry for the rest of his life, the anger and lust for vengeance never ever went away up to his last moment. But now it was not the time yet.

Vishnu didn’t know what to do. He just ran out of ideas. Prahlada Maharaj hadn’t been born yet, Hiranyakashipu didn’t deserve to die yet, too. Thus killing him wasn’t a fair option, and running away from him wasn’t an option, too – Vishnu doesn’t run away.

So the Lord found a solution – hide. Hide in the only place Hiranyakashipu would never look – his heart. Lord Vishnu, seeing approaching demon, assumed a subtle form and entered demon’s body through a nostril, then hid Himself in demon’s heart.

How can this story be turned into demonizing myself?

Here is the how. Forget the anger, we don’t have even a tiniest portion of Hiranyakashipu’s anger, we go after the Lord with our offenses instead. We don’t deserve to die yet but what we are going to do to the Lord cannot be tolerated either.

Imagine the Lord appears before us and we want Him to fix our Internet.

“You are very nice and beautiful, Lord, but there’s this thing that is really important right now – download speed is too slow and my ISP customer service sucks. Could you be a dear and do something about it?”

That deserves death, but the Lord is so merciful that He simply doesn’t give me a chance to offend Him. Yet…

I don’t think much of the Holy Name, I have only brief moments of respect interrupting long hours of completely neglecting it. Since I don’t know it’s true value then if I commit an offense it’s out ignorance.

Say I’m playing a board game and I roll the dice and pray for a number. Or I play Uno or Go Fish with kids and pray for the right card.

If I really knew who Krishna was I wouldn’t be asking for such silly things, so my offense doesn’t really count, expectations are too low to punish me – following from yesterday’s thought.

Now, if the Holy Name had revealed Itself (Himself?) and I was awestruck and maybe even filled with a shade of devotion, and then asked Him (It?) for a lucky number – I’d be rotting in hell for the rest of the duration of the universe.

That’s why the Lord is hiding from me when I do my “Krishna Krishna”.

Just like Hiranyakashipu had never ending anger in his heart, my offenses also don’t know any bounds and never sleep. They are on 24/7, every moment of my life is filled with disrespect, envy, pride etc etc. I’m not exaggerating and this is not something unique – these are natural qualities of conditioned souls or rather natural, original qualities of material bodies. They embody every thing but devotion, and without devotion there’s nothing really good in this world.

I mean there are good things, like taste of water or beauty, but without devotion they only lead to deeper entanglement.

Anyway, the situation is this – I am filled to the brim with offensive attitude and the Lord thinks it’s no good to engage me in a fight or any other interaction right now, so He hides in my heart, in everybody’s heart, for that matter, we are all in the same boat here.

He is listening, oh, He is listening very attentively, biding His time to appear before me. Unlike Hiranyakashipu, however, He doesn’t want to kill me but give me His mercy, it’s just that I make it impossible at the moment. I still want to fight Him, not surrender myself.

This is a process, however, I’m getting there, slowly, not very steadily, but every now and then I make a small step towards Him, and I bet He is shaking in His boots – what if I see Him and ask for a lottery number? He would have no choice but to severe my Head with His Sudarshana chakra, or, perhaps, something less dramatic, but He would be obliged to act, just like Lord Chaitanya with those two devotees I talked about yesterday.

Better not to rush things here, the goal is not to finish shower faster, it’s to come out clean.