We Are Pure Spirit Souls
A long time ago there lived a powerful sage named Astavakra Rishi. The sage was curved in eight parts of his body, and when he walked his movements were quite peculiar and awkward. He was very ugly and people often laughed at the sight of him. Although externally he was awkward and crooked, internally his heart was pure because he had realized his eternal transcendental identity. He knew and realized the difference between the body and the soul.
Once, Astavakra Rishi was invited by the great king Maharaja Janaka to attend an assembly of saintly persons. As he entered the assembly, everyone present began to laugh at him. Hearing them, Astavakra Rishi also began to laugh. The members of the assembly were surprised and said to each other, “We are laughing at him, but he is laughing even more loudly than us. Why is this?”
Janaka Maharaja rose from his throne and asked Astavakra Rishi, “Why are you laughing so loudly?” The sage replied, “I thought I was coming to join an assembly of saints and sages, but instead I have stumbled into a convention of shoemakers. A shoemaker’s interest is in leather and skin, and I see that all of you are just looking at my skin. Your interest is in seeing if someone is beautiful or ugly, healthy or disabled, young or old. Your minds are absorbed in these temporary things. You are not seeing my soul as saintly persons would. It is simply illusion to place importance on the external, temporary body while being oblivious to the eternal soul dwelling within.”
Janaka Maharaja’s heart was deeply penetrated by Astavakra Rishi’s words. He realized that the sage was a liberated soul, and fit to sit on the throne. He very lovingly placed him on his own throne, bowed down to him, and accepted him as his instructing spiritual master.
We Are Not These Bodies
Here, my Gurudeva, Narayana Maharaj has given the story of Astavakra Rishi as a great example of our situation in the current day also. It seems like most of society is preoccupied with the external appearance of our own selves, as well as that of others. It is one of the main reasons for discontent in relationships and marriage. The man or woman becomes agitated by beauty of one kind or another and wants to enjoy elsewhere, thinking this will be bring more happiness. The body is not the true self. This body came to us at the time of our birth, and will leave us at death. It is likened to a car. An ugly older style car or a beautiful shiny sports car, nevertheless a vehicle for the soul to move about this world in. When the car no longer works, we step out of the vehicle and buy a new one. So the soul steps in and out of the vehicle of the physical body.
The mind is also part of the material body and is different from the soul. It experiences temporary mundane emotions as real, thus causing much anguish and only a little pleasure. We are individual souls, not these bodies or minds. The mind is likened to a computer. The computer gives us messages every day on e-mail. We open some, and delete others. These are likened to the thoughts we have. Some thoughts we like and we dwell on them for some time, others we ignore like spam mail. Through meditation on the self we can withdraw ourselves from the constantly working mind, which distracts us from the truth of who we are.
These bodies are mortal; all the doctors and scientists of this world cannot prevent old age and death. One day we will become old, our beauty and power will disappear and after some time we will die. We will have to give up everything we have worked so hard to accumulate during this lifetime. Nothing in this world will save us from this inevitability. The ancient scriptures of India, the Vedas, say, “God is one. Everything in this world is merely an expansion of His power, or energy.” We are like the Supreme in that we have been created in God and Goddesses image, but unfortunately we have turned away from our inherent natural devotion to Them, and have therefore forgotten who we are. We think that these material bodies are our real selves. We spend our days collecting money and securing positions, thinking that these things will make us happy.
We Are Part and Parcel of the Supreme Self
The Vedas instruct us, “Don’t live in darkness; move toward the light.” “Light” refers to knowledge of our true spiritual form, in relationship to the Supreme Lord of whom we are minute parts and parcels. The Supreme Lord is known in the Ancient Vedas as Lord Krishna. God has many names, all of them are worshipable and transcendental. Every name of God and Goddess can give us transcendent experience. Krishna means the all-attractive beautiful One, the reservoir of complete pleasure, knowledge and eternal existence. He has many manifestations and they are all non-different from Him. He is the supreme person we generally call God, Allah or Jehovah. To serve Him in our spiritual form is this light that is spoken of, for our spiritual bodies are made of that light. Nevertheless, these bodies made of light have a form with which we can have a personal relationship with the Divine. Jesus said “Love God with all your heart and all your soul”. This devotion and relationship with the Divine brings full and eternal happiness.
“Darkness” refers to the state of spiritual ignorance. To be in darkness or ignorance means to be attached to objects related to this body and to have a sense of possessiveness toward the things of this world. Everyone in this world wants to be completely happy and no one wants to suffer. We can see, however, that despite people’s endeavors to attain happiness since time immemorial, they have not been truly successful. Medicines, trains, airplanes and now computers have been invented with the intention of creating convenience and happiness, and new forms of entertainment have been designed for this purpose. But has all this given anyone lasting inner happiness? It is especially thought that accumulating wealth can buy happiness, but who has ever become permanently happy by becoming wealthy?
There is, however, a transcendental science, a spiritual scientific process that leads one to eternal happiness and puts an end to one’s cycle of birth and death. That science is called Bhakti-yoga, or pure devotion to the Supreme. By performance of Bhakti-yoga we attain everlasting happiness. The process of performing pure devotion to God and/or Goddess allows one to realize the true self in relationship with the Divine, and one naturally attains true inner happiness.
If you really want to love all beings, first love God and Goddess. That love will automatically be distributed to all beings and in this way everyone can be happy. This is true love and affection. In that realm of love even tigers and bears can be calmed and quieted. Great sages of the past who resided in dense forests were never attacked by tigers or other wild beasts. If we can attain that love for the Supreme, we can truly love all others.
The Nature of the Supreme Self
In order to be attracted to love that Supreme Being, we first need to know who He is, what His nature is, and what His attractive qualities are. One who can create entire universes cannot be formless or without attributes. He must have all varieties of power and opulence. All the forms we see in this world have come from Him, so how can He Himself be formless? The Bible says that God has created man in His own image, and this is also confirmed in the Vedas.
He is so large that complete universes are contained within Him. Simultaneously, He is so minute that He resides in each and every atom – in every atom of air, in every atom of fire and in every atom of water. He is everywhere and He can hear everything. He is the same God for the Christians, for the Muslims, for the Hindus and for all others. There are not different Gods. He is the same God Jesus told us to love and the same God Mohammed spoke of. Just as there is one sun and one moon for this entire world, there is one God for all people. There is only one God, but He appears differently according to individual vision.
All forms and incarnations of God are His manifestations and are non-different from Him. Some, being more complete, are more powerful; and some are less powerful – just as the full moon is always the same moon, perceived as full, new or quarter etc. In reality the moon is always full, but we see it waxing or waning. He sometimes manifests in this world personally, and sometimes He sends His associates here to distribute pure knowledge. In this world all souls are His eternal servants, but we have forgotten Him since the beginning of creation. He sometimes descends, therefore, and performs very sweet and powerful pastimes to attract us and engage us in His service.
No one doubts the existence of the sun, so why should one doubt the existence of the creator of the sun or thousands of suns? That personality can create millions upon millions of worlds in a moment, and He can also destroy them. He comes to this world only to save us from suffering, by establishing a relationship with us and by engaging us in His loving service. There is no other way to become happy in this or any other world. There is only one God, and ignorance of our eternal, individual relationship with Him is the only cause of our unhappiness. We need not fear serving Him, thinking it to be like serving someone of this world where the master gains and the servant loses. It is not like that in the realm of spiritual love. One receives great happiness in serving Him, a very relishable love and affection that is even more than one receives by serving one’s wife, husband, children, society and so on. There are oceans of love and affection in Krishna’s transcendental realm.
The Process of Self-Realization
In the previous ages great sages used to see Him by meditating upon Him. In this present age it is not possible to meditate so deeply, because our minds are unsteady and flickering. Such meditation can be achieved, however, by chanting His name, and by this process we can realize His mercy and actually see Him. The Vedic literatures recommend that to attain pure love of God in this current age, one chant the Names of God and/or Goddess. There are many mantra’s and chants circulating the world, and all Names of God are whole and complete. There is one special mantra which is called the Maha Mantra. It is called Maha, because it is considered the most merciful of all Mantras. The reason being it has both God and Goddess within it. Most mantras contain either the Names of God, or the Names of the Goddess. A Maha-Mantra, is literally translated from Sanskrit as the greatest, most mercy filled mantra. A Maha-Mantra is one that contains the Names of both God and Goddess together within it.
When we chant these Names, the forms of God and Goddess enter into our heart and sit upon the throne within, receiving our devotion and prayers. People of all faiths call out to that one God, who is very beautiful, charming, powerful and merciful. Mantra can be chanted on beads, or by mind, internal or spoken outloud and of course sung! There are no rules for chanting these names. These Names will make ones life fulfilled and happy. Catholics, Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus’ all around the world take beads in their hands and chant Holy Names in a repetitive manner. Take the mantra and try chanting it on beads in a quiet moment, and speak each Name fully, taking in the fullness and Holiness of every syllable. Start by chanting one full circle of japa from bead one to bead 108.
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna
Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama
Rama Rama Hare Hare
You should know what these Names mean.
Hare is one of the Names of the Goddess Sri Radha, Krishna is one of the Names of God. Rama is also another Name of God. So in this mantra we pray to both God and Goddess for Their love and mercy.
• Krishna Rose is a singer and performer of devotional music and a teacher of Bhakti Yoga. Her music can be heard and purchased at www.KrishnaRose.com. This article is written from the teachings of her Gurudeva, Narayana Goswami Maharaja