I read your article “The Magic Wand” (Nov. 2010). I liked the story of Sumukhi and Dumukhi where Sumukhi got prasada while Dumukhi remained hungry. I am also a Life Member of ISKCON and a regular reader of Back to Godhead.   Er. V.K. Goel, Lucknow

Dreaming About Krishna

Hare Krishna, Mataji. Dandavat Pranam. I am into ISKCON since the last two years. Your article “The Magic Wand” that came in November BTG is really worth reading. I enjoyed it.

It was surprising to learn that Lord Rama appeared in Nitai’s dream. My question is regarding this aspect itself: Is it really possible to see the Supreme Lord or His image in our dreams? Or does it happen only with small children whose minds are pure and unpolluted? I remember seeing a statue of Shirdi Sai Baba once in my dreams. But never has an image of Krishna or Rama appeared in my dreams. Would it happen with me like Nitai?   -Shantanu Patil,Goa

Tarini Radha Devi Dasi Replies: Thank you so much for your encouraging words. The Lord appears by His will only to pure devotees. For us, who are just learning to appreciate Lord Krishna, it is mostly a projection of our subconsciousness. Probably children born to devotee parents have a longer connection with Krishna consciousness from previous births and so get such dreams from their sub-conscious minds. As we continue practicing devotional service and fill our minds with things related to Lord Krishna during our waking hours, slowly our sleeping minds will also relate to Krishna.

Qualifications of a Disciple

Could you kindly help me to know the minimum qualification for a disciple?   -R. Radha Krishna

Our Reply: “Disciple” means one who has an attitude of surrender and submission toward the guru and is willing to follow instructions with discipline. That attitude is essential. Any guru in ISKCON will ask you to follow basic rules, the four regulative principles: no eating of meat, fish or eggs; no illicit sex (sex only in marriage, and only to have children); no gambling; and no intoxication (including caffeinated beverages). Also, you will be asked to chant a minimum of sixteen good rounds of japa on beads every day. Many ISKCON gurus require at least one year of “testing” each other, so that both can learn more about each other and become fixed in the confidence that each will do his or her part to assist in the growth of the disciple’s Krishna consciousness. The Srimad-Bhagavatam states that for learning to take place, both the hearer and the speaker must be qualified. Some gurus also require systematic study of Prabhupada’s books, sometimes followed by an exam, to see that the potential disciple is fully aware of the basic philosophy of Krishna consciousness. But the “minimum” is to have a servant’s mentality, a desire to please guru and Krishna , and the determination to follow the vows required at initiation: the four regulative principles and sixteen rounds daily.

Stories from Other Planets

It is mentioned in the Srimad-Bhagavatam that it contains stories about devotees from other planets, not just this planet. How does the story come to be known here and then be written in Srimad-Bhagavatam?     -Pooja Jayaswal

Our Reply: Srimad-Bhagavatam was compiled by Srila Vyasadeva, a Saktyavesa-avatara of Lord Vishnu. Vyasadeva is a jiva soul like us, but he has been directly empowered by the Supreme Lord to compile Srimad-Bhagavatam. The stories in the Bhagavatam are historical, and the Lord and many of His empowered devotees are trikala-jna: they can know the past, the present, and the future. Srila Prabhupada mentions in his purport to Srimad-Bhagavatam (1.5.13): “Such liberated persons as Vyasadeva are  perfect not only by the power of vision and wisdom, but also in  aural reception, in thinking, feeling, and all other sense activities. A liberated person possesses perfect senses, and with perfect senses only can one serve the sense proprietor, Hrishikesha, Sri Krishna the Personality of Godhead. Srimad-Bhagavatam, therefore, is the

perfect description of the all-perfect Personality of Godhead by the all-perfect personality Srila Vyasadeva, the compiler of the Vedas.

Regaining Spiritual Strength

I used to be strong, used to perform devotional activities, viz. arati, japa etc. Since a few months, I have lost my confidence and enthusiasm because of some negative thoughts. How do I come back to my original state?     Laxmikant Verma

Nanda Dulal Dasa Repiles: For progressive life in devotional service, enthusiasm is the first necessity. Success even in ordinary endeavors demands enthusiasm. Enthusiasm is generally interpreted as eagerness or keenness for some cause. Srila Prabhupada, however, provides an interesting insight in his book The Nectar of Instruction: “Endeavor executed with intelligence in Krishna consciousness is called enthusiasm.” It is clear then that to succeed we need to understand intelligently what will facilitate our advancement and what will hamper it.

Rendering devotional service is like declaring war on maya, and there is all chance to get hurt, sometimes even fatally. Being careful, however, can prevent us from getting hurt. To specifically counteract negative thoughts, we can reflect on the many wonderful experiences that we have experienced in Krishna consciousness while in touch with sadhus, Deities, holy places, etc. Contrast these with the experiences an ordinary person has and we can instantly realize our extraordinary fortune. Such reflection on our privileged condition can give us an immediate sense of relief and jubilation. It can help us rise above the many negativities around us in a moment. You have mentioned that previously you used to chant and perform arati etc. With a mind filled with positive thoughts, you can re-connect to Krishna by resuming your devotional activities.