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Does Lord Viṣṇu appear in Kali yuga?

 

Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Viṣṇu, is known as Triyuga, which means that He is manifest in three yugas. However, this means that in the Age of Kali the Lord appears not directly but in disguise. This is confirmed in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (7.9.38):
itthaṁ nṛ-tiryag-ṛṣi-deva-jhaṣāvatārair
lokān vibhāvayasi haṁsi jagat-pratīpān
dharmaṁ mahā-puruṣa pāsi yugānuvṛttaṁ
channaḥ kalau yad abhavas tri-yugo ‘tha sa tvam
“My Lord, You kill all the enemies of the world in Your multifarious incarnations in the families of men, animals, demigods, ṛṣis, aquatics and so on. Thus You illuminate the worlds with transcendental knowledge. In the Age of Kali, O Mahāpuruṣa, You sometimes appear in a covered incarnation. Therefore You are known as Triyuga [one who appears in only three yugas].”)
Śrīla Śrīdhara Svāmī has also verified that Lord Viṣṇu appears in the Age of Kali but does not act as He does in other ages. Lord Viṣṇu incarnates for two purposes: paritrāṇāya sādhūnāṁ vināśāya ca duṣkṛtām. That is, He comes to engage in pastimes with His devotees and to annihilate the demons. These purposes are visible in the Satya, Tretā and Dvāpara yugas, but in Kali-yuga the Lord appears disguised. He does not directly kill demons and give protection to the faithful. Because the Lord is not directly perceived in Kali-yuga but is directly known in the other three yugas, His name is Triyuga.

Ref >> Srila Prabhupada Vani.

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Who Can Understand God?

Even big scholars cannot understand Kṛṣṇa, yet they dare comment on the Bhagavad-gītā. Reading the Bhagavad-gītā means understanding Kṛṣṇa, yet we actually see many scholars making blunders in trying to understand Kṛṣṇa.
In the Kaṭha Upaniṣad (1.2.23) it is stated:
nāyam ātmā pravacanena labhyo
na medhayā na bahunā śrutena
yam evaiṣa vṛṇute tena labhyas
tasyaiṣa ātmā vivṛṇute tanūṁ svām
It is also stated in Kaṭha Upaniṣad (1.2.9):
naiṣā tarkeṇa matir āpaneyā
proktānyenaiva sujñānāya preṣṭha
yāṁ tvam āpaḥ satya-dhṛtir batāsi
tvādṛṅ no bhūyān naciketaḥ praṣṭā
The fact is that the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the Supersoul, cannot be attained simply by explanations, logic and erudite scholarship. One cannot understand Him simply by one’s brain substance. Even by studying all Vedic literature, one cannot understand the Supreme Lord. However, if one is slightly favored by the mercy of the Lord, if the Lord is pleased, one can understand Him. But who are the candidates eligible to receive the mercy of the Lord? Only the devotees. They alone can understand what is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The Lord reveals Himself to the sincere devotee when He is pleased with his service: svayam eva sphuraty adaḥ. One should not try to understand the Lord simply from the statements of the Vedas, nor should one uselessly attempt to decry these statements through reasoning and logic.
Ref >> Srila Prabhupada Vani.
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Brahmacārīs in Śaṅkara Matha.

All the sannyāsīs are assisted by brahmacārīs, who are described as follows: One who knows his real identity and is fixed in his particular occupational duty, who is always happy in spiritual understanding, is called Svarūpa-brahmacārī. One who completely knows the Brahman effulgence and is always engaged in the practice of yoga is called Prakāśa-brahmacārī. One who has acquired absolute knowledge and who always meditates on the Absolute Truth, knowledge, the unlimited and the Brahman effulgence, thus keeping himself in transcendental bliss, is called Ānanda-brahmacārī. One who is able to distinguish between matter and spirit, who is never disturbed by material transformations, and who meditates on the unlimited, inexhaustible, auspicious Brahman effulgence is a first-class, learned brahmacārī and is named Caitanya.
When Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya was talking with Gopīnātha Ācārya about Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s sannyāsa community, he appreciated the first name, “Śrī Kṛṣṇa,” but did not like the surname, “Caitanya,” which is the name for a brahmacārī belonging to the Bhāratī community. He therefore suggested that the Lord be elevated to the Sarasvatī community. However, Gopīnātha Ācārya pointed out that the Lord does not depend on any external formality. Gopīnātha Ācārya was firmly convinced that Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu was Kṛṣṇa Himself and therefore independent of any external ritual or formality. If one wants to engage in pure devotional service, he does not require titular superiority as a Bhāratī or a Sarasvatī.
 
Ref >> Srila Prabhupada Vani.
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Sannyāsīs in Śaṅkara Matha.

Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu accepted sannyāsa from the Bhāratī sampradāya (community), which belongs to the disciplic succession of Śaṅkarācārya. Śaṅkarācārya introduced names for his sannyāsa disciples, and these are ten in number. Out of these, the surnames Tīrtha, Āśrama and Sarasvatī are considered topmost. In the monastery at Śṛṅgerī, the surname Sarasvatī is considered first class, Bhāratī second class and Purī third class. A sannyāsī who has very nicely understood the slogan tat tvam asi and who takes his bath at the confluence of the rivers Ganges, Yamunā and Sarasvatī is called a Tīrtha. A person who is very eager to accept sannyāsa, who is detached from worldly activities, who has no desire for any kind of material facilities, and who is thus saved from repeated birth and death is known as Āśrama. When a sannyāsī lives in a beautiful, solitary place in the forest and is freed from all material desires, he is called Vana. A sannyāsī who always lives in the forest and renounces all connection with the world in order to be elevated to the heavenly planets, where he can live in the Nandana-kānana, is called Araṇya. One who prefers living in the mountains engaging in the study of the Bhagavad-gītā and whose intelligence is fixed is called Giri. One who prefers living in great mountains, even among ferocious animals, to attain the summit of philosophical speculation (understanding that the essence of this material world is useless) is called Parvata. A sannyāsī who has dipped into the ocean of the Absolute Truth and collected some valuable stones of knowledge from that ocean, who never falls from the regulative principles of a sannyāsī, is called Sāgara. One who has learned the classical art of music, who engages in its culture, and who has become expert and completely aloof from material attachment is called Sarasvatī. Sarasvatī is the goddess of music and learning, and in one hand she holds a musical instrument called a vīṇā. A sannyāsī who is always engaged in music for spiritual elevation is called Sarasvatī. One who has become completely educated and is freed from all kinds of ignorance and who is never unhappy, even in a distressed condition, is called Bhāratī. One who has become very expert in absolute knowledge, who is situated in the Absolute Truth, and who always discusses the Absolute Truth is called Purī.
 
Ref >> Srila Prabhupada Vani.
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How do Sannyāsīs greet each other

It is the etiquette among sannyāsīs, those on the fourth platform of spiritual life, to offer respects by saying oṁ namo nārāyaṇāya (“I offer my respectful obeisances unto Nārāyaṇa”). This greeting is used especially by Māyāvādī sannyāsīs. According to the smṛti scriptures, a sannyāsī should not expect anything from anyone, nor should he consider himself identical with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Vaiṣṇava sannyāsīs never think of themselves as being one with the Lord; they always consider themselves eternal servants of Kṛṣṇa, and they want to see everyone in the world become Kṛṣṇa conscious. For this reason, a Vaiṣṇava sannyāsī always offers his blessings to everyone, saying kṛṣṇe matir astu (“May you become Kṛṣṇa conscious”).
 
Ref >> Srila Prabhupada Vani.
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Symptoms of Devotion in advanced state

The word sūddīpta-sāttvika is explained as follows by Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura: “The Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu mentions eight kinds of transcendental transformations in the bodies of advanced devotees. These are sometimes checked by the devotee, and there are two stages of such checking, technically known as dhūmāyitā and jvalitā. The dhūmāyitā (smoking) stage is exhibited when only one or two transformations are slightly present and it is possible to conceal them. When more than two or three transcendental transformations are manifest and it is still possible to conceal them, although with great difficulty, that stage is called jvalitā (lighted). When four or five symptoms are exhibited, the dīpta (blazing) stage has been reached. When five, six or all eight symptoms are simultaneously manifest, that position is called uddīpta (inflamed). And when all eight symptoms are multiplied a thousand times and are all visible at once, the devotee is in the sūddīpta (intensely inflamed) stage. Nitya-siddha-bhakta indicates the eternally liberated associates of the Lord. Such devotees enjoy the company of the Lord in four relationships-as servant, friend, parent or conjugal lover.”
Adhirūḍha-bhāva, or adhirūḍha-mahābhāva, is explained in the Ujjvala-nīlamaṇi, by Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī. Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura quotes Rūpa Gosvāmī as follows: “The loving propensity of the āśraya (devotee) toward the viṣaya (Lord) becomes so ecstatic that even after enjoying the company of the beloved the devotee feels that his enjoyment is insufficient. At such a time, the lover sees the beloved in different ways. Such a development of ecstasy is called anurāga. When anurāga reaches its highest limit and becomes perceivable in the body, it is called bhāva. When the bodily symptoms are not very distinct, however, the emotional state is still called anurāga, not bhāva. When bhāva ecstasy is intensified, it is called mahā-bhāva. The symptoms of mahā-bhāva are visible only in the bodies of eternal associates like the gopīs.”
 
Ref >> Srila Prabhupada Vani.
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Learning from Sākṣi-gopāla

 

The glories of Lord Gopāla, who is merciful to brāhmaṇas, are very great. The narration of Sākṣi-gopāla was spoken by Nityānanda Prabhu and heard by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu.
There are four points of instruction one should consider in the story of Sākṣi-gopāla. First, the Deity (arcā-vigraha) of Śrī Gopāla is eternally sac-cid-ānanda-vigraha, the transcendental form of the Lord. Second, the Deity surpasses material regulative principles and extends the reality of transcendental principles. Third, one can be situated in a transcendental position after becoming a brāhmaṇa, but as a brāhmaṇa, one has to follow the regulative principles very strictly. Lastly, brahmaṇya-deva indicates Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa Himself, who is worshiped thus: namo brahmaṇya-devāya go-brāhmaṇa-hitāya ca jagad-dhitāya kṛṣṇāya govindāya namo namaḥ. This indicates that a devotee who is under the protection of Kṛṣṇa is automatically situated as a brāhmaṇa, and such a brāhmaṇa is not illusioned. This is factual. One who hears this narration of Lord Gopāla with faith and love very soon attains the lotus feet of Lord Gopāla.

Ref >> Srila Prabhupada Vani.