Bhaktiyoga - practical VI.
palandu lasunam sigrum alambum grjanam palam
bhunkte yo vai naro brahman vratam candrayanam caret
(Padma Purana, Brahma Khanda 19.10, spoken by Suta Gosvami)
O sages, one who eats garlic, onions, sigrum (a kind of plant), turnips, bottle gourd and meat, that person should observe a candrayana fast.
vrntakam jalisakam kusumbha smantakam tatha
palandu lasunam suklam niryasan caiva varjayet
gRJjanam kinsukan caiva kukundanca tathaiva ca
udumbaram alavun ca jagdhva patati vai dvijah
(Hari Bhakti Vilasa 8.158,159, from Kurma Purana)
One should not eat eggplant, banana leaves, sunflower leaves and asmantaka leaves, onions, garlic. One should not eat sour gruel (a thin watery pouriage) or the juice of the tree. One should also give up turnips and beetroots, carrots, kinsuka, forest figs, and white pumpkin. If the twice born persons eat these things, they all become fallen.
(This translation of gRJjana seems to be questionable. Capeller dictionary says that it refers to garlic.)
palandulasunadini jagddhva candrayanam caret
sraddhe devanpitrnprarcya khadanmamsah na dosabhak
By eating garlic and onion one becomes sinful and as atonement one should perform Candrayana. (Garuda Purana 1.96.72)
Onion, shit-thriving pigs, Selu, garlic, Goplyusa (milk of a cow before the lapse of ten days from calving), Tanduliya (a grain growing in faecal rubbish) and mushroomsó all these are to be avoided. (Skanda Purana 40.9)
The householder taking the rite shall avoid heavy indigestible pulses like Nispava, Masurika etc., stale food, defiled food, brinjals, gourds, cocoa-nuts, garlic, onion, intoxicating beverages and all kinds of meat. (Siva Purana 7.10-12)
(But) he should avoid stalks of lotuses, safflower, gold or silver, onion, garlic, sour gruel, a thick fluid substance; so also chatraka (a kind of mushroom), vidvaraha, greasy milk of a cow during the first seven days of calving, vilaya (a particular product of milk) and mushrooms. By eating the small red variety of garlic, blossoms of kimsuka, a gourd, so also udumbara, bottle-gourd, a twice-born becomes fallen. (Padma Purana Vol. 42, 4.56.19b -24)
I shall now mention those things that should always be avoided in Sraddha. Garlic, onions, globular radish and Karambha (groats or flour mixed with curds), and other articles devoid of smell and with no taste should be avoided in Sraddha.The reason is also mentioned (as follows): Formerly in the fight between devas and asuras, Bali was defeated by suras. From his wounds drops of blood gushed out and from them these articles grew up - hence they are avoided in the Sraddha rite. (Varaha Purana 16.11b-15)
The expiation for having eaten the prohibited food is fasting. One should do the stiuka(?) expiation (tisucandrayana(?)) for having eaten bhustma (a kind of fragrant grass) and garlic. (Agni Purana 173.37)
"According to Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, the regulative principles of devotional service compiled by Gopala Bhatta Gosvami do not strictly follow our Vaisnava principles. Actually, Gopala Bhatta Gosvami collected only a summary of the elaborate descriptions of Vaisnava regulative principles from the Hari-bhakti-vilasa. It is Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami's opinion, however, that to follow the Hari-bhakti-vilasa strictly is to actually follow the Vaisnava rituals in perfect order. He claims that the smarta-samaja, which is strictly followed by caste brahmanas, has influenced portions that Gopala Bhatta Gosvami collected from the original Hari-bhakti-vilasa. It is therefore very difficult to find out Vaisnava directions from the book of Gopala Bhatta Gosvami. It is better to consult the commentary made by Sanatana Gosvami himself for the Hari-bhakti-vilasa under the name of Dig-darsini-tika. Some say that the same commentary was compiled by Gopinatha-puja Adhikari, who was engaged in the service of Sri Radha-ramanaji and who happened to be one of the disciples of Gopala Bhatta Gosvami." (CC Madhya 1.35p.)
"Sanatana Gosvami wrote his Vaisnava smrti, Hari-bhakti-vilasa, which was specifically meant for India. In those days, India was more or less following the principle of smarta-vidhi. Srila Sanatana Gosvami had to keep pace with this, and his Hari-bhakti-vilasa was compiled with this in mind." (CC Madhya 23.105)
"This Hari-bhakti-vilasa, also Vaisnava-smrti, that is also imitation of smartaism. It is called smrti. So at least in Europe and America, they will never be able to take all these things. The things should be made shortcut; at the same time, they should be successful. So that is chanting of Hare Krsna maha-mantra, depending on..." (Room Conversation -- July 16, 1973, London)
As we know, Srila Prabhupada was more lenient than his guru and previous acaryas not only in this but also in other cases.
5.5. Garlic, leeks and onions, mushrooms and (all plants), springing from impure (substances), are unfit to be eaten by twice-born men.
5.19. A twice-born man who knowingly eats mushrooms, a village-pig, garlic, a village-cock, onions, or leeks, will become an outcast.
Q: Please let me know as to the proper substitutes for onions, garlic and eggs which we can take as practicing devotees.
A: (Vijaya-venugopala Das) Instead of onion and garlic, for taste and appearance, cut cabbage in small pieces like onions. Fry in a shallow pan (kadai), with lots of asafetida (hing). Tastes exactly like onion.
Egg - in cakes use curds or condensed milk instead. Gives fantastic results. Buy the eggless cake cookbook, or there are plenty of eggless cake recipes in any ISKCON devotee authored cookbook.
(Kurma Das, chef) - Slice fresh fennel root into thin strips and
fry with asafetida like the cabbage, it is even more like onion, with
an extra lovely anise fragrance.
Or: 2 tablespoon flour + 1/2 teaspoon oil + 1/2 teaspoon baking powder + 2 tablespoons liquid (milk, cream, buttermilk, diluted yogurt, or dairy free alternatives like coconut milk, soy milk, etc) beaten together until smooth.
Or: 2 tablespoons water + 1 tablespoon oil + 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, beaten together until smooth.
Or: 1 tablespoon ground flax seeds + 3 tablespoon warm water, beaten t together until smooth.
(Haripuja dd) As an egg substitute for baking, 2-3 tablespoons of yogurt can be used to substitute 1 egg.
Krsna Candra Das
I just returned from a pilgrimage to the holy Mount Athos in Greece. It is considered the spiritual center of the Orthodox tradition. It is a shelter for all sincere persons searching for God.
Athos is a independent state. Only monks live there. Still nowadays there are many thousands of monks and they do not let everyone enter. Specially if one is a non-orthodox like me, you need a special visa of which they give only four per day.
Meat is not allowed. There are also no cars, no electricity, no telephone, no restaurants, no buildings other then monasteries, and - which makes it very special - no women and children. Since 1200 years it is forbidden for them to enter. Since 1000 years also no female animals (maybe they have read the story of Saubhari Muni?) - that means also no milk and eggs.
The get up at 11 PM and chant japa for 3 hours in a complete dark room. Their "mantra" is the traditional Christian heart prayer "kyrie jesu christo eleison me" (Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me). They chant this with the kombustini, a string with 100 knots resembling very much our mala.
Many saints (Chrysostomos, Antonius, Johannes from Klimakos, but also in recent days Staretz Siluan and Theophan) have developed a real science of chanting these names.
"In the Bible it is mentioned, "You should pray without interruption" (Luke 18:1, 21:36, Ephesians 6:18, Timothy I 5:5, etc.). This means 24 hours a day. It is not just a part of life, it must become our life. That is why they chant it many thousands of times every day. Prayer should not be a search for words. After some time I would not know anymore what else to pray. That is why one repeats the same prayer and at the same time surrenders one's whole life to Him. I give it over. In the beginning it may even be mechanical. After some time my prayer enters the mind and goes on, even in my dreams. From there we should deepen it, chant with emotion and as a gift for Him. Here I already get a sublime taste. But the real heart prayer is a gift from God. It is not something we produce with our tongue. Only at that moment these words get divine potency..."
Because the monks of Athos preached the idea that the Name is actually God as in John 1:1 (or it can become Him if prayed in a devotional mood) it got as a big dispute before the Patriarch (highest authority in Orthodox tradition) of Constantinople (in the beginning of this century) and it was solved by military intervention. Many hundreds of monks were brought to Russia and "distributed" in many monasteries.
Then from 2 till 6 AM they have mangala arati, singing and praying in the kattholikon, the orthodox church.
When one asks the monks what they are doing they reply: only praying and dying. Nothing else. They fast 260 days a year and sleep very less. And whatever they do, cooking, walking, eating, sleeping, they are advised to chant "kyrie jesu christo eleison me..."
It was the first time for me outside a Vedic context where I could say that they practice real spiritual life and not just a form of material piety.
Calling on the Name of the Lord in the Bible
Question about participating in Christian service and Vaisnava temple worship
Christianity - connections
Cross-cultural traces of Vedic civilization
Prajalpa which spoils bhakti is categorized by Bhaktivinoda Thakura in his Piyusa-varsini commentary on Sri Upadesamrta into the following eight categories:
(1) Useless talks (not about Lord Hari)
(2) Arguments (godless quarrels, like in nyaya and vaisesika, not based on the Vedas)
(3) Gossip (talking about other people to establish one's reputation)
(4) Debates (desire for conquest)
(5) Fault-finding in others (imposing one's bad habits on others)
(6) Speaking falsehoods (because of one's self-interest)
(7) Blaspheming devotees (the worst)
(8) Worldly talk (devoid of God consciousness)
Communication consists of:
1. perceiving (jnana) and
2. understanding (vijnana) on -
a. gross body level - karmi (people operate more on the subtle level than it seems - voice, body language, emotions)
b. subtle body level (OBE) - jnani
c. spiritual/transcendental level - yogi (impersonal/personal)
Preaching: art of natural relating our message to others' already known info (concerns, interests/questions) - creating a "bridge".
1. Distinguishing innocents from demons: "If you could choose, would you prefer God's existence or non-existence? What about non-corrupted church?" (St Anselm: "Existence of God is better than His non-existence; it is better to be righteous and happy than unrighteous and unhappy.")
2. Someone says God doesn't exist or similar nonsense: Why he thinks so? Find his authority, prove his unrationality. Four imperfections of conditioned being.
3. Analysis of philosophies/religions
Knowledge sources: pratyaksa/anumana/sabda?
a) sambandha-abhidheya-prayojana: What is the supposed origin of everything, the supreme destination and the process to attain it? If these are not clearly defined the philosophy is incomplete. Bhaktivinod Thakur elaborates on prameyas in his Harinama-cintamani. Vedanta-sutra describes sambandha in its first two chapters, abhidheya in third chapter and prayojana in fourth. Contemporary philosophies and religions usually lack two latter items.
b) guna: (BG 14.*, 18.*, SB 11.25.*) tamas - rajas - sattva - Which features are prevalent in a particular philosophy?
Increase of ignorance is represented by narrowing the focus of vision/ understanding (example of torchlight on the ceiling)
c) karma, jnana, bhakti: (Ravindra Svarupa das)
Describe, analyze and give examples of this sequence, explain the position of a particular philosophy accordingly and establish the superiority of bhakti. Encourage it.
4. General preaching sequence: jiva, isvara, sambandha, abhidheya, prayojana
- Jiva (living entity) is beyond the gross and subtle body, he is a person and an inherent part of Isvara (God).
- Isvara is the supreme person: He is the Father Supreme; we have father (person), his father is a person etc. ... the original father must be also a person.
- Sambandha (theory) is sevya-sevaka (served-servant) relation.
- Abhidheya (practice) is eternal devotional service. There is no merging point:
Gopala-tapani Upanisad says the devotee should think "so 'ham" ("I am Krishna"). This unity is not on the absolute but on the qualitative level. The absolute unity never happens:
SB 10.30.3: Gopis in the ecstasy of vipralambha (separation from Krishna) imitate Krishna and claim "I am Krishna". This is an authorized form of meditation about Krishna's pastimes when devotees play the roles of Krishna and His devotees. These situations appear e.g. in the dramas "Lalita-madhava" and "Vidagdha-madhava" by Rupa Goswami. This is the "so 'ham" meditation.
After all, Krishna Himself says (SB 9.4.63-64,68) He doesn't want His devotees to merge into Him: "I am completely under the control of My devotees, indeed, I am not at all independent. Because My devotees are completely devoid of material desires, I sit only within the cores of their hearts. What to speak of My devotees, even those who are devotees of My devotee are very dear to Me. O best of the brahmanas, _without saintly persons for who I am the only destination I do not desire to enjoy My transcendental bliss and My supreme opulences_. The pure devotee is always within the core of My heart and I am always within the heart of pure devotee. My devotees do not know anything else but Me and I do not know anyone else but them."
- Prayojana (goal) is eternal Krsna prema. (See 'karma, jnana, bhakti')
- Difference between Vedic and other religions: they are afraid of scientific progress and things not fitting into their paradigms (e.g. paranormal phenomena, etc.) but the Vedic science welcomes them: they support it.
- Attacks of atheists on devotees weakens the atheists (SB 4.4.13) and reinforces the devotees.
- KC is like a hidden golden treasure. Lacking knowledge we tread on it but can't enjoy it.
- Sometimes our external looks and bad PR may hinder people from coming in touch with our philosophy. Astrologer Shyamasundara dasa ACBSP wrote about his experience:
Once, way back in 1986 I was a candidate for being the in-house-astrologer at a big meta-physical center in Atlanta, GA. I went to the center and the devotees (matajis) had set up a table in front. They were in Saris. I was in karmi clothes. I could overhear people making all kinds of nasty comments about the devotees they didn't know I was one also. I gave readings to several of the board members of the centers; they were very impressed by the fact that I interjected philosophy into my readings and would often question me and get into long discussions. They wanted me to teach philosophy at their center, yet these were exactly the same people who had made disparaging remarks about the devotees outside their doors. They didn't know I was just giving them the same philosophy found in the books on the table that they criticized. It was a big realization for me. That people are very much affected by the bad press about ISKCON, but once they hear the philosophy they are attracted. So it is an art to give them the philosophy and benefit them.
5. Expanded questioning scheme. Explain the nature of:
jiva (purpose of life?)
prakrti (this world's origin: nothing/substance other than isvara/isvara?
nature purpose: (good(for what?)-bhoga/bad(unreal)-tyaga/neither-isvara seva?)
karma (fate/free will/both?)
jiva (matter/spirit, created/eternal? created with body/before?, svarupa?)
isvara (impers./pers.?, nama, rupa, guna, lila, in this universe/beyond?)
sambandha (jiva and isvara co-enjoyers/servant-served?)
abhidheya (faith/process?, karma/jnana/bhakti?)
I have put myself in a very nasty situation. I committed an unforgivable sin 8 years ago i.e. I cannot forgive myself let alone others around me forgiving me. (I do not seek their forgiveness as it will bring me no peace, since "what is done is done".
It was a low act, unforgivable, hurting the people closest to me. I lost all self respect. I lost the respect of the same people above. Now, I do not seek anyone else's forgiveness or respect. Nor do I actively seek happiness. I have been constantly restless, uncomfortable, almost nervous for the past 8 years as I am in caught in lingo. I do not actively seek happiness, SIMPLY PEACE OF MIND WOULD DO. (I am a Hindu and understand broadly Gita's teachings.)
1. Does a person who has committed such a horrible, low, unforgivable act deserve peace of mind? Even happiness?
2. I have lost all self respect (although I continue with day to day life), can this be rekindled?
3. How can I leave a normal life from now on?
4. Does Gita provide any answers?
Thank you very much for your straightforwardness and frankness. You are simply very wonderful. Here are the answers for your questions.
1. You definitely DESERVE peace of mind and happiness, simply because you have admitted your mistakes and are truly repenting for your past misdeeds. There is no need to tell what exactly you did wrong as it may be personal. However, if there is any possibility, please go to the people to whom you committed wrong, and fall at their feet and beg for forgiveness. If they forgive you, then you have done your 'prayascitta' or atonement for your sins.
If this is not possible to directly meet them, then at least write to them, begging for forgiveness. Krsna will appreciate that.
If both are not possible, that is if those people are not there on this planet or you don't know where they are, or there may be other practical problems, that by your getting in touch with them you will be only aggravating the already sour situation, then you ask for their forgiveness mentally and pray to Lord Krsna to forgive your sins.
2. After doing the above, please take up to the process of Krsna Consciousness or devotional service or bhakti-yoga to Lord Krsna. Depending on one's sincerity, bhakti will remove all the sins, in the course of time, and Lord Krsna gives you this guarantee in Bhagavad-gita 18.66: sarva dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja, aham tvam sarva papebhyo moksayisyami ma sucah - Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto me and I shall deliver you from all SINFUL reactions. Do not fear.
Bhakti-yoga is very simple:
Step 1: Admit one's mistakes, and truly repent for the mistakes
Step 2: Do not repeat the mistakes.
Step 3: Simultaneously pray to Krsna, to give you strength to do the steps 1 & 2.
Step 4: There is simple prayer which you can chant every day as much as possible, for 10 minutes, 30 minutes, 1 hour, 2 hours or as much as your time permits. It is better you regulate the timing initially for 10 minutes and then build upon it.
The prayer is "Hare Krsna Hare Krsna; Krsna Krsna Hare Hare; Hare Rama Hare Rama; Rama Rama Hare Hare". This simply means "O Krsna, O energy of Krsna, please engage me in your service". Chant this Maha Mantra/Holy Names. Then Lord Krsna will hear to your prayers, and engage you in His service, and He will remove all our sins in the course of time. It is so simple.
Here is a quotation from Srimad Bhagavatam 6.2.13 (6th Canto, 2nd Chapter, 13th verse): "One who has killed a brahmana, one who has killed a cow or one who has killed his father, mother or guru (spiritual master) can be immediately freed from all sinful reactions simply by chanting the Holy Name of Lord Krsna or Narayana. Other sinful persons, such as dog-eaters and candalas, who are less than sudras, can also be freed in this way".
Also Srimad Bhagavatam 6.2.9-10: "The chanting of the Holy Name Lord Krsna is the best process of atonement (prayascitta) for a thief of gold or other valuables, for a drunkard, for one who betrays a friend or relative, for one who kills a brahmana, or for one who indulges in sex with the wife of his guru or other superior. It is also the best method of atonement for one who murders women, the king or his father, for one who slaughters cows, and for all other sinful men. Simply by chanting the Holy Name of Krsna, such sinful persons may attract the attention of the Supreme Lord, who therefore considers, "because this man has chanted My Holy Name, My duty is to give him protection."
One must not chant the Holy Names and continue to do sins thinking that the chanting will cleanse all the sins. That does not work. One has to admit one's mistakes, truly repent for one's mistakes, and simultaneously incessantly every day chant the Holy Names, which will give strength and protection from committing any further sins.
3. As explained above, in answer to your second question. You be what you are, and just add chanting of Krsna's name to your life. That makes everything perfect.
4. Yes Gita provides answers for all the questions of life. Just read Bhagavad-gita and in the course of time all your questions will be answered.
Bhagavad-gita is the supreme instruction on morality. The supreme instruction of morality is stated in 9.34: man mana bhava mad bhaktah. One must become a devotee of Krsna. To become a devotee, you must be in the association of devotees. So stay tuned to this website.
Also, if you let me know which city you belong to (no need a complete address, just the city), then we can see if any Krsna devotees are in your locality and we can post the addresses here and you may get in touch with them.
You are not alone. I too have committed most abominable sins and now I am practicing bhakti-yoga and this has cleared all the gloom and given me immense happiness. You too please try out.
Hare Krsna. Please feel free to ask all your questions with out hesitation and clear your doubts.
I pray to Lord Krsna to show you the proper way. Please forgive me if I have said something wrong and offended you by writing the above answers.
Your humble servant,
Bhadra Govinda Das
Bhadra Govinda Das gave such a beautiful answer to someone asking how to seek forgiveness. I too have deeds done that I can't live with. More importantly to me is what about harm done to another person who has to live with the pain I caused. I do I deal with that.
Thank you very much for understanding my message correctly. That message/answer is not my own. It is the message coming in the parampara or disciplic succession. I offer your appreciation to Guru and Krsna (Gauranga).
Case to case according to the person, time, place and circumstances, how you deal with the situation differs. We can never change the past. We can only change the future.
The Bhagavad-gita deals mainly with 5 subject matters. Isvara (the Supreme Lord Sri Krsna), Jiva (the spirit soul), Prakriti (nature), Kala (time) and Karma (the actions and reactions to one's activities). Of these five, four are eternal (they can never be changed, they have no beginning and no end and they are always there). Only one, that is karma, is not eternal and it can be changed.
The only way we can change our karma is by taking up to devotional service to Krsna which is technically called bhakti-yoga. This is a very simple process. Sravanam kirtanam visno smaranam. Hearing, chanting, remembering Lord Krsna / Visnu. There are totally 9 processes (see Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu) out of which the first three or even the first two are very easy to perform. You don't need any paraphernalia. One's tongue and ears are sufficient. Bhakti-yoga will burn all our karma to zero eventually. The rate of burning our karma is directly proportional to our sincerity.
Chant the Hare Krsna mahamantra and hear it.
In the course of time Krsna will reveal to us, according to our sincerity, how to deal with various matters, such as a how to deal with a person to whom we have done harm.
Ultimately the only solution is become a devotee and make others (including those who have suffered at our hands) into devotees of Lord Krsna.
The first and foremost you must do is to identify yourself and come into the association of devotees. There is no need to be anonymous. Staying anonymous is being impersonal and losing one's identity. A devotee is always personal. Please, you do not have to worry about anything. Please identify yourself in future correspondence and become personal. Bhakti-yoga means one must become personal. Also a devotee is fearless.
Chant Hare Krsna and become a devotee and make others devotees. That is the only solution for all problems.
Please forgive me if I have written anything that may hurt your feelings.
Your humble servant,
Bhadra Govinda Das
Dear Bhadra Govinda Das,
Many thanks for your lengthy, detailed and informative reply.
My sincere gratitude for taking the time to read and analyze each of my questions.
Your answers were uplifting indeed.
My main problem is this: I have committed a sin of a type which is unspeakable. I also know of another who has committed similar sin to a loved one of mine. My initial and continuing feeling towards the former is of anger, shock, sickening, disbelief, disgust, all horrible feelings intertwined.
I am not a hypocrite when it comes to people and their emotions. If I feel all the above about this other person who has hurt my loved one (and therefore me) I cannot forgive them. HOW CAN I FORGIVE MYSELF IF I CAN'T FORGIVE ANOTHER IN THE SAME POSITION? I CAN'T. NOR CAN I EXPECT OR DESIRE OTHERS' FORGIVENESS. WITHOUT FORGIVENESS OF YOUR OWN SELF YOU CAN'T GO ON SURELY.
I have sinned in "small" ways in the past but I can forgive myself for these as I consider that I was young, naive or plain stupid. But when one is older and wiser there is no excuse.
Also, I cannot even begin to attempt to bring peace and happiness to my own life when I have brought so much pain and hurt and disgust to another. Please remember that I think about nothing else but my sin. I can never be happy in this frame of mind. This almost sounds like a lost cause, it feels like it.
Being unable to forgive oneself is like being in emotional stalemate.
Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.
Signed Confused One
Ksama, tolerance and forgiveness, is the quality of a devotee. A nondevotee cannot understand this. The only way to understand this is by becoming a devotee of Krsna.
As I explained to you in my previous text, please chant Hare Krsna mahamantra and everything becomes clear in the course of time.
Also, tolerance and forgiveness, has to be PRACTICED, along with chanting Hare Krsna mahamantra and eventually you will understand how to forgive and forget.
To forgive and forget is the nature / quality of a devotee of Krsna.
Please confirm if you have started chanting.
Hare Krsna Hare Krsna
Krsna Krsna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama
Rama Rama Hare Hare
Your humble servant, Bhadra Govinda Das
Here is a quote from Krsna book which I think is very relevant to your questions:
Lord Balarama again turned toward Krsna and said, "My dear Krsna, a relative, even though he commits such a blunder and deserves to be killed, should be excused. For when such a relative is conscious of his own fault, that consciousness itself is like death. Therefore there is no need to kill him."
I think it is clear from the questions that you ask that you are conscious of your mistake and therefore no further mental punishment is necessary. So hopefully you will receive some peace of mind from this Krsna book quote.
Q: You guys on this website have all these sayings of God and believes about God's existence. But how is one supposed to believe in something it has not seen? Why do u believe in God, have u seen him?
A: But do we have to see things in order to believe in them? Did anyone see subatomic particles, etc.? (Only their traces can be seen and their orbits can be calculated, that's all.) Our senses are very limited and unreliable. To claim that something does not exist simply because I have not seen it is a childish logic. I have not seen you - therefore you don't exist? I may hear about you, see your pictures, talk with reliable persons who know you, etc. and thus I can be pretty sure there is such a person as you. If I set on a journey and fulfill the necessary conditions to reach your place (visa, tickets, maps, etc.), I may meet you in person. All of this can be also applied to God. In His case the 'journey' means the spiritual process of bhakti-yoga.
Although seeing God is not the primary goal of Vaisnavas (they prefer to serve God, Krsna, in such a way that He will want to see _them_) it is possible on the level of pure bhakti-yoga, as its by-product. The main way is through chanting Krsna mantras, especially the Hare Krsna mahamantra. This is the yajna and dharma for this age. However, it is important to remember that it is up to Krsna if He reveals Himself to us; we have no power other than our love.
But if there is God, why we don't see Him? The Vedas answer that because living beings in this material world don't want to see Him He makes Himself invisible. Why they don't want to see Him? Because this world is like a playground for the rebellious beings who want to be independent of God. Therefore He mercifully provides us with this facility. At the same time He cares for us in various ways and reminds us that this is not our real home because we suffer here (this world is also compared to jail) and that we should return home, to Him.
Another important thing is to know who God is. Otherwise we may see someone and don't recognize Him as God. Several times in past (as Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, Nityananda Prabhu, Lord Jesus) He was not recognized by majority of people during His appearance on Earth. Someone may also pose as God in order to cheat us.
(Path of Perfection, chapter three: Learning How to See God):
This may not be understood at the present moment; therefore the Padma Purana states that when one becomes spiritually saturated by rendering transcendental service to the Lord, the transcendental name, form, qualities, and pastimes of the Lord are revealed. We cannot understand God by our own endeavor, but out of mercy God reveals Himself to us. If it is night, and you want to see the sun, you will have to wait for the sun to appear in the morning. You cannot go outside with a big torch and say, "Come on, I will show you the sunlight." In the morning, when the sun rises of its own will, we can see it. Because our senses are imperfect, we cannot see God by our own endeavor. We have to purify our senses and wait for the time when God will be pleased to reveal Himself to us. That is the process. We cannot challenge God. We cannot say, "O my dear God, my dear Krsna. Please come. I want to see You." No, God is not our order supplier. He is not our servant. When He is pleased, we will see Him; therefore this Krsna consciousness is a process by which we can please God so that He will reveal Himself to us. Because people cannot see God, they readily accept anyone who says, "I am God." Because people have no conception of God, they are eager to accept any rascal who comes along and proclaims himself to be God. People are fond of saying, "I am searching after the truth," but in order to search for the truth, we must know what the truth is. Otherwise, how can we search it out? If we want to purchase gold, we must at least theoretically know what gold is, otherwise we will be cheated. Consequently, having no conception of the truth or of God, people are being cheated by so many rascals who say, "I am God." (end of quote)
Dictionaries define God as the supreme person. Here is a simple three-step 'proof' of existence of God:
1. There are many persons in this world.
2. These persons are on different levels of advancement - they have different skills, powers, etc.
3. The supreme, or highest person is called God.
These points can hardly be denied. From this one can see that God's existence is necessary. One may claim that as everything has a cause, there must also be a cause of God. But no, this would lead to a logical fallacy called infinite regress. Infinite regress happens e.g. in case of pramanya-paratastva-vada, or claim that sabda, word of scripture, must be supported by anumana, logical and rational analysis, because then one has to prove the validity of anumana, then the validity of that proof etc. etc. infinitely. Therefore it is said, tarko apratisthat, arguments are inconclusive. God is the supreme cause of everything (sarva-karana-karanam, Brahma-samhita 5.1):
isvarah paramah krsnah
anadir adir govindah
"There are many personalities possessing the qualities of Bhagavan, but Krsna is the supreme because none can excel Him. He is the Supreme Person, and His body is eternal, full of knowledge and bliss. He is the primeval Lord Govinda and the cause of all causes."
The answer is yes. I and many others have seen God as His energies in nature, in His guiding our life, and as a person in dreams. There are also many persons in past and presence who saw Him from face to face in awakened state.
To understand more read books like Bhagavad-gita, Srimad Bhagavatam, etc.
What is God
Taking Proper Rest in Preparation for Service
Hari Madhava das and Bindu Malini Devi Dasi
To be able to rise early and enthusiastically begin serving the Lord one should observe certain regulations regarding sleep. If you require, arrange to be awakened on time, either by a reliable alarm clock or a reliable person.
The Ayur-veda states that sleep during the hours before midnight is most beneficial. Therefore the earlier a person takes rest, the better for his health. One should avoid eating heavily before taking rest, as this increases dreaming and thus the need for sleep. The digestion is slowest at night. For psychological as well as health reasons, before taking rest you should relieve yourself, wash your hands, and rinse your mouth with cool water. Next wash your feet, again with cool water, and then dry them. During the day you might not always consciously offer your service and its results to the Lord. Therefore before taking rest you may consciously dedicate your day's activities to Krsna with a prayer:
kayena vaca manasendriyair va
karomi yad yat sakalam parasmai
narayanayeti samarpayet tat
"Whatever I have done with my body, said with my words, thought with my mind, perceived with my senses, or comprehended with my intelligence, I offer unto the Supreme Lord, Narayana." (SB 11.2.36)
Resolving to correct all the mistakes you have made that day, meditate on the form of the Lord and chant His names, especially Madhava and Padmanabha (the presiding Deities of the evening and the second and third parts of the night, respectively), and also meditate on the forms of the Deities you worship regularly.
Offer obeisances to your spiritual master, chanting the pranama prayer(s) and begging his blessings to continue rendering devotional service. Srila Prabhupada recommended reading Krsna book before taking rest to help one dream of Krsna's pastimes.
During sleep your head should point east or south, for sleeping with the head pointing east brings knowledge, and sleeping with it pointing south promotes long life and strength. You should avoid sleeping with the head pointing west or north, for sleeping with the head pointing west brings worries, and sleeping with it pointing north can induce premature death. It is best to sleep on the left side, since this aids digestion; you should never sleep on your stomach.
Try not to sleep too much or too little, or during the daytime (if possible); one should not sleep during the three sandhyas (sunrise, noon, and sunset), as these times are most favorable for meditation and worship. Srila Prabhupada writes:
"One should not sleep more than six hours daily. One who sleeps more than six hours out of twenty-four is certainly influenced by the mode of ignorance. A person in the mode of ignorance is lazy and prone to sleep a great deal. Such a person cannot perform yoga." [Bg. 6.16, purport] Unless the body is ill, one should not sleep more than six hours at night, or in one stretch. If more rest is required, one can take a nap during the day.* To diminish the chances of being influenced by the mode of ignorance, avoid sleeping in a house alone, and never sleep naked. Out of respect do not sleep under a pippal tree during the day or in a cowshed at night. It is unclean to sleep with oil on the head or body.
Counteracting Bad Dreams
If you have a bad dream, upon awakening, after chanting Hare Krsna you may also chant the holy names Govinda, Narayana, Sridhara, Purusottama, Vamana, Sarngadhara, Khadgadhari, and Nrsimha. The Hari-bhakti-vilasa also recommends several verses that one may chant to counteract bad dreams. Sukadeva Gosvami recommends chanting the narration of Gajendra's liberation "as it is, without deviation, to counteract the troubles of bad dreams." (Srimad-Bhagavatam 8.4.15)
The Hari-bhakti-vilasa recommends several verses you may chant upon awakening to glorify the Lord and counteract bad dreams. The following verse, spoken by Sukadeva Gosvami, is a favorite of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu's followers:
jayati jana-nivaso devaki-janma-vado
yadu-vara-parisat svair dorbhir asyann adharmam
vraja-pura-vanitanam vardhayan kama-devam
"Lord Sri Krsna is He who is known as Jana-nivasa, the ultimate resort of all living entities, and who is also known as Devaki-nandana or Yasoda-nandana, the son of Devaki and Yasoda. He is the guide of the Yadu dynasty, and with His mighty arms He kills everything inauspicious, as well as every man who is impious. By His presence He destroys all things inauspicious for all living entities, moving and inert. His blissful smiling face always increases the lusty desires of the gopis of Vrndavana. May He be all glorious and happy!" (SB 10.90.48)page url: http://www.veda.harekrsna.cz/bhaktiyoga/bhaktiyoga-6.htm
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