I request you to simplify verse 11.55 from Bhagavad-gita, particularly the word nirvairah. How can a person living family life implement it? I have come across so many situations in life when this seems very difficult.
Our reply: In Gita 11.55, Krishna says, “My dear Arjuna, he who engages in My pure devotional service, free from the contaminations of fruitive activities and mental speculation, he who works for Me, who makes Me the supreme goal of his life, and who is friendly to every living being he certainly comes to Me.”
Lord Krishna glorifies the process of bhakti loving devotional service (bhaktya tv ananyaya sakya aham evam-vidho ’rjuna). In 11.55 He elaborates what is meant by bhakti: that one should act for Him (mat karma krt), make Him the supreme goal of one’s life (mat paramah), be engaged in nine-fold processes of bhakti, namely sravanam, etc., one should not associate with those opposed to Krishna (mat bhaktahsanga-varjitah), and be friendly to every living being (nirvairah). After this, Lord Krishna also gives us the benefit of leading such a life: such a person returns to Him.
Srila Prabhupada translates nirvairahas “without an enemy.” To be friendly to those who are themselves friendly is easy, but to be friendly to those who are malevolent is easier said than done. Maintaining one’s enthusiasm while enduring through such mental struggles is the test for those who claim to be true spiritualists.
As a householder, you might face opposition from your own family, friends, and even from those to whom you are trying to help in different ways. Not losing hope and enthusiastically maintaining concern for such people will be proof of our commitment. A devotee considers that reversals in life are only a result of one’s own wrong doing in the past and thus does not hold anyone else responsible for it than his or her own self. Such a devotee is not naive to worldly realities and remains alert to any potential harm, safeguarding himself and his dependents by employing suitable means for protection. Such a devotee is proactive for safety, but avoids unduly harassing or harming others. Recognizing Krishna’s pleasure when He sees people receive spiritual help, and the benefits one derives from carrying out such difficult but benevolent acts of compassion will keep us motivated. Being nirvairahempowers us to change people’s hearts by practicing purity in our own lives. Also this allows us to conserve our time and energy in serving the Lord and helping others rather than getting disturbed by opposition.
The first three recommendations by Lord Krishna, namely mat-karma-krt, mat-paramah, and mad-bhaktah, when practiced will attract the mercy of the Lord and empower us to deal with different challenges encountered while practicing sanga-varjitah and nirvairah. Simply put, the quality of being nirvairahis being non-envious by positively engaging in acts of others’ well-being.
The articles in Back to Godhead are often based on current events and affairs, and they provide a spiritual perspective to the situation. I find this very interesting. I thus get better guidance to confront the situation. Thanks BTG!
I like the BTG articles dealing with hot current issues, or based on science and fiction. Topics like sati, euthanasia, artificial life, etc., which appear controversial to sanatana-dharma, are dealt very interestingly by Syamananda Dasa, Caitanya Carana Dasa and Murari Gupta Dasa.
I was attending a class on Bhagavad-gita 2.21. The speaker mentioned that everything happens by the sweet will of the Lord and that while fighting with His enemies, the Lord gets angry too. How can the Lord, who is beyond the three modes of material nature, ever get angry?
Our reply: Life means emotions. We as ordinary living entities have emotions. Similarly the supreme living entity Lord Krishna too possesses emotions. In fact, as the original person, Krishna is the origin of all the emotions we experience and He possesses them to a supreme degree. Unlike our anger, Krishna’s affection and anger are unlimited, transcendental, and of equal value. Just as a loving father sometimes expresses anger and sometimes caresses his child, the Supreme Lord too expresses transcendental and selfless anger for the benefit of the living entity. When Krishna as Lord Nrsimhadeva saved Prahlada and killed Hiranyakasipu, Hiranyakasipu benefited as much from Krishna’s anger as Prahlada did from His affection. Krishna is the father of all living entities, and therefore, like a good father, He exhibits love and anger only for His children’s benefit. Krishna Himself explains in the Bhagavad-gita (4.11) that He is equally disposed to everyone but that He warmly reciprocates the service and mood of His devotees.
Since the three modes of nature rule over us, our expression of emotions affection or anger are impure and manipulated expressions. Since the Supreme Lord is beyond the modes, His expression of emotions is pure and original. Thus there is no difference between His violent and non-violent moods.
Early Morning Japa
Thank you for publishing the article “The Expressway to Devotion” by Yugavatara Dasa. It was mentioned in the article that it is best to chant Hare Krishna during brahma-muhurta (pre-dawn). Sometimes, this is not possible because of late night programs or early morning services. What must be done in such cases?
Reply by Yugavatara Dasa: Japa is the easiest and the most important activity in devotional service. Japa during early morning facilitates rapid advancement. Unless one is sick, the morning hours should be dedicated for japa. If we understand and experience the benefits, we will plan our lives in such a way that we can do this.
If one gets delayed due to some engagement the previous night, one should try and get up after around five hours of rest, chant our rounds and then catch up with the rest of the much-needed sleep during the day. If this is not possible, one may sleep early the following day and compensate. Many pujaris get up at 2 am and chant their 16 rounds of Hare Krishna maha-mantra before they start their services. I know one mother from Pune who chants all 16 rounds before her baby gets up at 6 am.
In the long run, sustaining this habit of morning japa is only possible with good health, which is achieved by moderate diet, exercise and going to bed early in the night.
Replies to other letters were written by Nanda Dulal Dasa.
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