Wonderful Articles

Thank you very much for the wonderful article on Festivals by Subha Vilasa Dasa. The message conveyed was simple yet sublime. I especially like the line ’’When a festival is merely celebrated, money is spent, but when it is contemplated, blessings are earned.” Also the ‘‘Eight Elements of Effective Education” by Madhu Madhava Dasa was excellent.
  – Seetaraman Iyer

Practical Guidance

I am a regular reader of BTG and appreciate it very much. I especially wait for the articles by Mahatma Dasa, which give guidance on how we can change ourselves to have a devotee’s lifestyle in today’s modern world.
  – Rajshri Shete

Repeated Lilas

The Srimad-Bhagavatam mentions about Lord Brahma’s day and the repetition of the four yuga cycles. Is it that in each yuga, the same pastimes occur? Does the same Mahabharata war take place in every Dvapara-yuga? Does Prahlada get saved from HiranyakaSipu in each Satya-yuga? Is the story the same or is it different every time? What pastimes happen on other planets and which avataras appear there? Can we ever be a part of these pastimes, especially the Vrindavan pastimes?
  – Chintan

Our reply: We might misunderstand the lilas or pastimes of the Supreme Lord to be like a fixed script of a drama or film that is enacted repeatedly by different or same actors in different yugas. In the mundane world, when the contents of a drama or film are revealed to the audience before they watch it, the entire experience is rendered uninteresting and boring since the events ahead are predictable to the audience. When the Supreme Lord performs pastimes in the material world, He employs yoga-maya, His internal energy to choose just the right environment and make the perfect setting for His pastimes to happen. In other words, the Supreme Lord is in total control of what happens in His presence. Every fine detail has been finetuned for His pleasure as per His desire. Therefore, the Lord’s pastimes are dynamic combinations of emotions and activities displayed for the pleasure of the Supreme Lord as per the need of a particular event. Thus, every time the Supreme Lord appears and performs His pastimes there are slight variations that are carried out as per the need of that particular situation. For example, we know that when Kamsa summoned Lord Krishna to Mathura, Krishna accompanied Akrüra on his chariot. Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura mentions that in some other instances Lord Krishna mounts Kaliya snake to go to Mathura when Kamsa calls Him there.

Even in our ordinary world, one can see that there are some extraordinary dramas or movies expertly made with such a mix of different flavors of emotions and situations that people like to watch such dramas or films repeatedly even if the sequence of events is completely predictable. From this we can get a small glimpse about the potential attractive power of a pastime enacted by the Supreme Lord where He dynamically varies every small detail as per the need. The process of sadhana-bhakti is a merciful facility provided by the Supreme Lord to purify the conditioned souls and qualify them to participate in his nitya-lila, eternal pastimes in the spiritual world. 

Problems Continue

Even after being in Krishna consciousness for many years and hearing classes from senior devotees I still get angry, jealous, become panicky in situations, and cannot control my tongue. What is the solution now?
  – Deepali Lotlikar

Our reply: Progress on the spiritual path takes time, since it involves clearing up all the accumulated dirt from our hearts. We may not always perceive how much advancement we are making in our efforts. So please do not feel discouraged, and continue practicing the process with enthusiasm, patience and determination.

Our true advancement depends on the serious endeavors we undertake to apply teachings we have heard or read. It could happen that we participate in devotional activities without true involvement of consciousness. Or maybe we are choosing services that are comfortable for us instead of choosing services that are necessary and urgent. In this way, even if we practice devotional service for a long time, we may not deeply internalize the principles in our own lives.

Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura mentions that there are four components of Sravanam (listening): Sravanam, mananam, nidhidhyasanam and vandanam. The first component points to listening attentively from our guides. Mananam means deep contemplation on what we have heard. Nidhidhyasanam means we sincerely try to apply what we have heard in our own lives to the best of our capacity. Vandanam means when we discover our limitations in applying what we have heard, we fervently pray to the Supreme Lord for His mercy. When we read about these four components of hearing we can realize that our hearing often may not have even crossed the limits of the first component. Thus, when we come across a lack of transformation in ourselves, it is time to revisit the basics and invest our heart in whatever little we are able to do.

Replies to the letters were written by Nanda Dulal Dasa.