Gita Contest 2020
tat sukhaṁ sāttvikaṁ proktam
“That which in the beginning may be just like poison but at the end is just like nectar and which awakens one to self-realization is said to be happiness in the mode of goodness.”
And happiness in mode of passion appears like nectar in the beginning and turns to be poison in the end. And happiness in mode of ignorance is poison from the beginning to the end.
Take for example, waking up early. For those accustomed to waking up late, to wake up early is quite an austerity. The mind and body resist waking up early. It is painful to do so. But if you are determined and make it a habit, suddenly you find yourself an additional 2-3 hours in a day which is fully peaceful, refreshing and gives you opportunity to make a significant difference in your own life. Most successful people wake up early in the day and do the most important activities at the wee hours.
You can talk about similar examples. Eating healthy food, exercising, yoga, meditation, learning new skills – all of these appear difficult and painful in the beginning. But in the end, they all give you life-changing results.
On the other hand, happiness in the mode of passion is instant gratification. It gives you immediate kick and sense gratification. But as soon as it is over, you either feel miserable or you will suffer from the consequences of spoiling your health, time and money. Eating pizza, fast foods, drinking sodas, watching television, movies, enjoying with opposite sex etc.
And happiness in mode of ignorance is distress from beginning to end. Excessive sleep, laziness, alcohol addiction, drug addiction, porn addiction, night clubs etc fall in this category.
If you want to take charge of your own life, Bhagavad Gita prescribes cultivating habits in mode of goodness. They may appear like poison in the beginning but will pay us in the long run. However, cultivating mode of goodness should be accompanied by spiritual practices, else the progress will only be material. Cultivating and practicing mode of goodness is just like maintaining a car nicely. You may keep the car well-cleaned, well-protected and well-serviced, but it is of not much use if you only keep it in your garage. The car’s good condition should be utilized to go to your destination. The better the condition of the car, the easier your journey will be. So cultivating mode of goodness should always be accompanied by practice of Krishna consciousness.
For example, early morning hours are called ‘brahma muhurta’ (auspicious time for cultivating spirituality). One’s good habit of waking up early should be used to think about Lord Krishna, chant His holy names and pray to Him. Especially, one should chant the maha mantra: hare krishna hare krishna krishna krishna hare hare, hare rama hare rama rama rama hare hare, as prescribed in scriptures. One’s good habit of eating healthy food should be spiritualized by offering it to Lord Krishna. Eating food offered to the Lord cleanses our body, mind and neutralizes our various previous sinful reactions. Similarly, all habits in mode of goodness should be spiritualized by dovetailing them in Krishna consciousness. This combination of a life style of mode of goodness and Krishna consciousness makes us happy and peaceful. Thus when we are happy and peaceful, we won’t ever go into the lower modes of passion and ignorance.
One day a boy saw his father going out somewhere hurriedly. Upon asking, his father replied that he is going to the water company to pay the water bill. The boy asked him, Dad, why do we need to pay money to them? The father told the boy that unless we pay them money, we won’t get the water to the house. Naively, the boy said, why do we need the water company Dad, we just go to the sink, turn the tap on and there we go, we get the water. Why do we have to pay to the water company?
You get the point!
Our existence in this world doesn’t come free. There are so many natural resources that keep us alive, healthy, sane and happy. A person can think childishly, that I don’t care who is providing these natural resources, I just have it available for me. I will just use them. How does it matter if someone is behind these resources or not?
Just like the water company eventually disconnects the water supply to those who don’t pay the bill, nature restricts its supplies to those who don’t perform ‘sacrifice’ or ‘pay the bill’.
In Bhagavad Gita chapter 3, Lord Krishna explains the science behind this ‘sacrifice’ or ‘yajna’.
te deva bhavayantu vah
sreyah param avapsyatha
Srila Prabhupada explains how the demigods who provide these natural resources are dependant on the performance of yajñas by the human beings.
By sacrifice, one gets ‘esa vo stu ista kama dhuk’ – “its performance will bestow upon you all desirable things.” (3.10)
‘śreyaḥ param avāpsyatha’ – “there will reign general prosperity for all.” (3.11)
Krishna further says that one who leads a life devoid of sacrifice is leading a dangerous life.
dasyante yajna bhavitah
tair dattan apradayaibhyo
yo bhunkte stena eva sah
Lord Krishna calls such a person a ‘thief’, because he steals God given resources and does not perform ‘sacrifice’ or ‘pay back’. A thief is always in anxiety when he will get caught. His punishment is sure. So, the principle behind happiness in this world is sacrifice.
Well, one might think God is like a businessman who expects some payment for providing us some facilities. Not quite. Sacrifice is actually a trick God uses to reform our corrupt mentality. In this material world, we all have exploitative mentality, or we always hanker for our own sense gratification. And one who obstructs or disturbs my sense gratification is considered my enemy. In this way, because of this principle of leading life of sense gratification, there is constant strife, conflicts and quarrels throughout the world. Between nations, between communities, between members of a family etc.
So in Bhagavad Gita, the Lord is trying to cure this mentality of ours by offering this method of gradually cleansing our disease of hankering always for our sense gratification. By gradually cultivating the habit of ’sacrifice’, one comes out of the habit of sense gratification. We develop the habit of ‘giving’ and not ‘exploiting’. The Lord created this material world for the conditioned souls to learn how to perform yajñas (sacrifice) for the satisfaction of Viṣṇu, so that while in the material world they can live very comfortably without anxiety. Then after finishing the present material body, they can enter into the kingdom of God. That is the whole program for the conditioned soul.
By performance of yajña, the conditioned souls gradually become Kṛṣṇa conscious and become godly in all respects. Gradually, as we continue to perform sacrifices, at the highest stage of purity, one no longer works for one’s own sense gratification, but works to please the Supreme Personality of Godhead. When God is pleased, everyone is pleased. It is just like watering the root of a tree. When the root is watered, all its branches, leaves, twigs, fruits are considered watered as well. Then begs the next question, how do I know how to perform what sacrifice and when?
Traditionally sacrifice is performed through the medium of fire God (agni), who accepts our offerings and through him the offerings are accepted by the Supreme Lord Vishnu. But this kind of sacrifice is not recommended in this age of Kali yuga, nor is it practical, nor are there qualified vedic mantra chanters who can ignite fire just by the power of their mantra chanting. So the scriptures prescribe that the easiest and at the same time the most sublime form of sacrifice in this age of Kali is chanting the holy names of Lord Krishna, particularly the maha mantra: hare krishna hare krishna krishna krishna hare hare, hare rama hare rama rama rama hare hare.
Also in Srimad Bhagavatam it is said:
yajnaih sankirtana prayair
yajanti hi sumedhasah
The most intelligent take to this sankirtana yajna in this age of Kali.
Lord Krishna also mentions the importance of the sacrifice of chanting His holy names in Bhagavad Gita.
yajnanam japa yajnosmi – “Of yajnas, I am japa yajna” (BG 10.25)
satatam kirtayanto mam – “Always chanting my glories…” (BG 9.14)
man mana bhava mad bhakto – “Always think of Me…” (BG 9.34)
For beginners, chanting the hare krishna maha mantra at least 108 times everyday is prescribed. This will be considered as your sacrifice and gradually the Lord will reveal in your heart how you can be elevated further. Thus by this sankirtana yajna one can remain happy in this life and in the next.
Don’t need to give up what you are doing
Accept the favorable
Reject the unfavorable
Please visit the following link and answer a short quiz: Topic 3 Quiz
To participate in the contest and win prizes, please visit the following link and answer a short quiz: Topic 4 Quiz
Several decades back, one great drama writer, P.L. Raya, wrote a book titled, “Shah Jahan”. But the whole book was about the nefarious actions of Aurangzeb – how he killed his brothers, arrested his father and so on so forth. So one friend of Mr. Raya was bewildered and asked him a question “Mr. Raya, Your book Shah Jahan, in terms of the activities, the actual hero is Aurangzeb. Why did you title the book as Shah Jahan?” So Mr. Raya replied that although Shah Jahan was silent, the effect of Aurangazeb’s activities was going to him. When Aurangzeb killed his elder brother, Dara, the effect was suffered by Shah Jahan. So, like this, in all the nefarious activities of Aurangzeb, it was Shah Jahan who was suffering. Therefore he said, “He’s the hero of my book.”
The point is that the true intent and purpose of a book can only be known by its author. Similarly, the true intent of Bhagavad Gita can be found only when we understand it uncompromisingly from the author Himself, Lord Sri Krishna. For instance, when we are sick, and go to a medical store, and ask for medicine, we cannot make a choice of the medicine based on our preference of color, taste or smell. Although the medical store contains an array of different medicines, we have to take only the medicine prescribed by the physician for our disease. Further, we should consume the medicine according to the directions given on the label. Similarly, Bhagavad Gita should be accepted as it is, directed by the speaker, Lord Krishna, Himself.
The example of such understanding is displayed by Arjuna himself, the direct hearer of this great message from Lord Sri Krishna.
Arjuna mentions in the Bhagavad Gita:
What Arjuna did for living was, fighting. But Krishna certified him, bhakto ‘si me . . . priyo ‘si me: “oh Arjuna, you are My dear devotee.” Did Arjuna do anything extra-ordinary outside of his duty? No, he just simply fought, that’s all. But… he fought for Krsna. That is the secret of the Bhagavad Gita! Arjuna did not change his fighting capacity as a warrior, but he changed his mentality. Similarly, we can continue to engage in all our duties, but we should keep Krishna in the center. We must do all our duties in order to please Krishna. And this is possible to be accomplished by one and all. If Krishna expects Arjuna to follow his instructions in the middle of the battlefield, then it must definitely be possible for all of us! This is the final conclusion of Bhagavad Gita!