Why Am I Here?

My understanding is that we were parts and parcels of the Supreme Lord. However, we wanted to enjoy separately from Him and therefore we have to undergo suffering in this material world. Originally where have we all living entities come from? Were we parts and parcels of the Lord from Goloka Vrndavana? Can free will given to us be the cause of falldown from the spiritual world? What is God’s rationale behind giving us free will? What is God’s compulsion for His creation? What is the soul’s eternal end and beginning?
  – Rajesh Shetty

Our reply: The various questions you have asked pertain to our existence before we landed in the material world and so are beyond our current experience. Thus, for answers to these questions, we can rely only on sabdapramaëa or scriptures.

As spirit souls, we have always been and will always continue to be parts and parcels of the Supreme Lord (Gita 15.7). In the spiritual world, we existed in servitude to Him expressed in different flavors. This servitude is its natural position and so the source of greatest bliss and satisfaction for every spirit soul. The Supreme Lord is svaraö, or absolutely independent without any binding (Bhagavatam 1.1.1). Just as a drop of sea water is constitutionally salty being a part of the huge salty ocean, we being tiny parts and parcels of the independent Supreme Lord also inherently possess the same independence but in a proportionately tiny quantity. Misusing this tiny independence, the spirit soul sometimes becomes simply curious to check the material world or totally envious of the attention and service that the Supreme Lord receives in the spiritual world or anything in between. As soon as the spirit soul desires to experience anything separate from the Supreme Lord (due to any reason), He arranges for such a spirit soul to have the desired experience. The Supreme Lord out of His love for the living entity doesn’t force His will on the living entity. Even though the Supreme Lord wishes for soul’s eternal stay in the spiritual world and even arranges for this, He allows the living entity to agree to this conclusion by his own volition. Thus, begins the spirit soul’s frightful sojourn to the material world. The Supreme Lord’s impetus for creating the material world is thus His concern for the living entity to an extent that He even facilitates the separatist mentality of the living entity never enforcing coercion on him in any manner. Upon the spirit soul’s entry into the material world, the three modes of material nature swing into action (Gita 14.5) and offer unlimited allurements to the spirit soul to perpetuate his desires and the resultant experiences. The grand illusion of material life thus begins. The Supreme Lord sanctions this transition from bliss to distress just to allow the living entity to come to a definite selfarrived conclusion by different experiences in the material world that true bliss lies only in nourishing his eternal fulfilling relationship with the Supreme Lord and any other endeavor only sows the seeds of future misery.

Sticky Situations

I have completed my engineering this year but my passion is to teach others, because I believe I can learn only by teaching. I want to dedicate my time to studying religion, philosophy, mind, body, soul. But, in our society we are expected to do a job and support the family. Now I am feeling stuck in the situation. Should I do job and start earning money or leave everything aside and start living a renounced life where though I can study under great souls but cannot earn money? What should I do?
  – Dheeraj Pathak

Our reply: Thoughts of renunciation are extremely rare and therefore valuable in the material world which is primarily influenced by feelings of domination and enjoyment. However, one needs to be certain whether such virtuous thoughts are genuinely rooted in desires for others’ welfare or are appealing masks of camouflaged selfishness posed by the devious mind just to escape one’s worldly duties and responsibilities. Both, the meditative sage and the callous escapist appear similar to an untrained eye but are poles apart in their consciousness. As is the case with anything powerful, even renunciation potentially can cause the greatest benefit when inspired by a genuine selfless mood but can also cause the greatest damage when fueled by immaturity or selfishness. Thus, in the Bhagavad-gita, Lord Krishna advises niskama karmayoga as a definite precursor for complete renunciation. Niskama karma-yoga involves executing our worldly duties as if attached while at the same time practicing an internal sense of detachment from the results of such noble deeds. Such endeavors purify the mind of its impurities and reveal to the practitioner the original deeprooted motivation for his or her desires. Once you perceive your true motivations, you should take personal guidance (in either case) from advanced devotees to take you forward from this point onward. 

Only Marigolds?

One devotee says that a Deity or photograph of Lord Krishna should be garlanded with marigold (genda) flowers only. I feel personally that other fragrant flowers like firecracker, hibiscus, frangipani, campa, lotus, rose, mogra, etc. can also be offered. Please clarify.
  – Mohan Kutumbi

Our reply: The Srimad- Bhagavatam mentions at several places that Lord Krishna would wear garlands of vaijayanti flowers (10.21.5, 10.29.44, 10.51.24, 10.59.23). Also, words like vana-mala (10.35.10, 10.73.5, 11.14.39) are used at other places. Thus, it is clear that flowers of different varieties can be offered to Lord Krishna . One rule followed by devotees is that flowers in the mode of ignorance (viz. poisonous flowers like datura etc.) or in the mode of passion (hibiscus etc.) are not offered to Lord Krishna . Only the flowers in the mode of goodness (campa, lotus, rose, mogra etc.) are offered to Lord Krishna . For more details you can consult with the local ISKCON temple Deity department. 

Replies were written by Nanda Dulal Dasa.