Hindu Philosophy

karma and reincarnation, ancient Indian culture, yoga philosophy and practice, Vaishnavism, the Vedas

ByVrinda Kunja Ashram

Bhakti yoga in Bhagavad Gita

As a main pillar of Hindu philosophy, the Bhagavad Gita is one of the most widely studied volumes in the world. It is found not only in Hindu temples but also in millions of libraries and homes. The Bhagavad Gita was even used at a swearing-in ceremony for a member of the United States Congress.  With great pleasure we present this article Bhakti Yoga in Bhagavad Gita by Bhakti Raksak Swami, who  has collected many important facts about the Gita for our readers’ benefit.

 

Bhakti yoga, the uniqueness of the Bhagavad Gita

Throughout human history, people have been trying to unveil the secrets of existence and discover the purpose of life. Many explanations and stories have been offered and preserved either by oral transmission or through scriptures. As a result, a great variety of traditions have appeared, each one with its own rituals and practices meant to ensure a peaceful stay in this world as well as a successful and safe journey into the hidden or unknown realms. Amongst all these traditions and practices, bhakti yoga, originating from the Vedic scriptures of ancient India has become widely known throughout the world, and is still being explored.

A great classic belonging to the epic Mahabharata of Vedic literature, the Bhagavad Gita, also known as one of the three oldest scriptures of humanity, has been recognized and appreciated by great thinkers of modernity, such as Mahatma Gandhi, Arthur Schopenhauer, Albert Einstein and others for the depth of its wisdom and incomparable inspiration. Far beyond any materialistic goal a human being can pursue in this world, the Bhagavad Gita teaches  bhakti-yoga, or pure devotional service with loving feelings to the Supreme Lord, as the highest objective. Though different Hindu schools have various approaches towards the Bhagavad Gita, the essential message is the same – to cultivate bhakti yoga, loving service of the Supreme.

Source of Inspiration

The Bhagavad Gita, describes a dialogue between the Supreme Lord Himself, Sri Krishna, and his dear friend and devotee Arjuna. Life’s destiny has brought Arjuna into a very desperate dilemma. He is trapped between armies of his relatives on two sides, gathered to fight in what for him appears to be a meaningless war. Unable to find his way out of this bewildering situation, Arjuna surrenders to Krishna and asks for His guidance.

Transcendental knowledge

What follows is a deep analysis about the root causes and secret workings of life, as revealed by Krishna to Arjuna. Listening to them, we learn the difference between the eternal soul and the perishable material body

The  living entity engrossed in material nature, devoid of spirtitual knowledge, considers the body as the self and seeks material pleasure as the only purpose of life. However, by receiving and understanding transcendental knowledge, we obtain a new vision, a much broader perspective on the meaning of our existence. We can no longer ignore the callings of the soul and its spiritual needs. Therefore, a person who has come into contact with this reality, naturally continues to inquire deeper into the world of spiritual understanding.

Spiritual Discipline

One who has stepped onto the path of this spiritual search cannot but question all pior activities and ways of thinking. He will start to change his habits related to thought and action. There cannot be spiritual insight without self-regulation of external habits coupled with disciplined spiritual practices.

Bhakti Yoga In Bhagavad gita: The Final Goal 

Krishna guides Arjuna through different levels of understanding the secrets of life, and thus instructs us to act according to our level of realization, understanding the benefits of action in dedication (karma), meditation (dhyana), development of knowledge (jnana) as well as other practices and regulations of yoga. He does all this with the intention of making Arjuna, and all of us understand that loving devotional service, bhakti-yoga, to Him, the Supreme Lord, represents the supreme purpose of life. Union with the Lord in divine love, expressed and realized through surrender and devotional service, is what ultimately pleases the Lord and his servant, the soul.

There is nothing comparable to this practice or consciousness, and there is no book like the Bhagavad Gita, which teaches us this greatest of all secrets: bhakti yoga in Bhagavad Gita

Feel the power of chanting Vedic mantras . Some Bhagavad

Gita verses are recited as well. This video was made on our tour to Varanasi.

 

ByVrinda Kunja Ashram

Body mind and soul

Exploring the truth about body, mind and soul

Throughout human history philosophers have been searching for answers to life’s greatest questions. What is life? Where does life come from? What is the purpose of life? What happens to us after we die?  Anyone who asks these kinds of questions becomes a philosopher and starts a spiritual quest towards self-realization.

 

 

The purpose of body, mind and soul

In order to realize its true nature of sat-chit-ananda, eternal knowledge and bliss, the soul is always striving for its basic nourishment: love. Just as all living entities consist of and need water to exist, the essential nature and necessity of the soul is love, which it attains through service to others. In order to serve, the soul needs special tools, namely a mind and a body to make the Supreme and other living entities happy.

 

Who are we – body, mind or soul?

Hindu philosophy says we are jiva atma, individual souls, whose true nature is sat-chit-ananda eternally present, blissful and possessing perfect knowledge. Through God’s loving mercy, every soul is endowed with free will to choose where to go and what to do. This means we have chosen to live here in the materiak world. Having entered this world, in order to be active in this dimension, the soul needs assistance just as a scuba driver needs special equipment for being under water. This assistance comes in the form of the mind, which constructs a physical body with eyes to see, ears to hear, a nose to smell, a tongue to taste, skin to feel and a heart to love and feel emotions. It is easy to understand that we are the eternal soul, using the mind and the sensual physical body to interact with material nature, but we are not the mind and not the physical body, which are merely temporary physical manifestations.

When you drive a car, you don’t think of yourself as the car. The car is just some mechanical equipment to get you from point A to point B. When the car can no longer operate safely because it is damaged beyond repair or just wears out, we stop using it and acquire another vehicle. The soul does the same thing. When the body becomes useless and stops functioning, the soul departs and finds a new body to use. This is what we have all experienced since time immemorial: transmigration of the soul or reincarnation.

 

Benefits of being conscious about body, mind and soul

When we gain some knowledge about the body, we learn how to keep it healthy and fit. A vegetarian diet, meditation and yoga practice or physical activity are beneficial. A poor diet with excessive meat eating, substance abuse with alcohol or drugs, and lack of exercise or lethargy can destroy the body.

As we maintain a healthy body, we must also maintain a healthy mind. Besides helping us use language to express our feelings and intentions, our mind enables us to store memories of pleasurable or distressful experiences, which helps us make decisions in our everyday lives.  Krishna says in  the Bhagavad-Gita that the mind can be our best friend or our worst enemy. It can lead us to make bad decisions that are not pleasing to the soul, or it can be used to make choices that bring happiness to our soul and to others. The mind needs daily maintenance like meditation or chanting of mantras; otherwise the mind starts forming destructive habits that neglect the benefit of the soul.

The soul is always pure, eternal, blissful and full of knowledge. The false ego, characterized by selfish desires, pride, envy and temporary self-designations (man, woman, family relation, occupation, social status, nationality, etc.) all  produced by the mind, covers our true self. Just as dust can obscure the reflection of a mirror and objects appear differently, so the false ego obscures the reflection of the soul and we lose a clear vision of our true nature.  Our task is to purify the body and mind to develop soul conciousness which will enable us to serve others as loving souls. We realize our highest expression of love when we serve others. Just as a mother serves her children with love and they become very happy, when we start serving others with love, we are also going to be very happy. This activity makes everybody happy including God.

 

ByVrinda Kunja Ashram

Hare krishna mantra

The Hare Krishna mantra, also known as the Maha Mantra, is a 16 word mantra. We have collected basic information about this famous mantra.

History and background of the Hare Krishna Maha Mantra

The first mention of the Hare Krishna mantra is in the Katha Upanishad, compiled thousands of years ago.  The Katha Upanishad belongs to ancient Vedic literature.  The Mahamantra originally appeared with a slightly inverted variation: Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare. Around five hundred years ago the Supreme Lord appeared as Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, who changed it to the current transcendental form: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare. This mantra is called the Maha Mantra which means the Great Mantra as it is considered to be the most important of all mantras.

From ancient India to the modern age

Hindu philosophy divides time into four epochs: Satya Yuga (the golden age), Treta Yuga (the silver age), Dvapara Yuga (the bronze age), and  Kali Yuga (the iron age). Each epoch has  optimal techniques or practices recommended for self-realization. At present, we are living in Kali Yuga. In this epoch, the best way to attain self-realization is to chant the Hare Krishna mantra. Chanting the holy names of Krishna is the best chance we have; we mustn’t miss out on it.  Though there are not any strict rules on how to chant, the most important thing is to try to chant from the core of your heart.

Meaning of the Hare Krishna mantra

The Hare Krishna Maha Mantra is not different from Krishna Himself.  The Hare Krishna mantra is the avatar of the Supreme Lord incarnated in sound vibraton. The real meaning of the mantra is: Please My Lord, let me be an instrument of your love.

 

Inscribed Hindu text from ancient India on Sanskrit language

Power of the Maha Mantra

The Hare Krishna mantra is extremely potent. The Maha Mantra is able to neutralize our bad habits. As soon as you start to chant the Hare Krishna mantra, you can feel the benefit immediately. We have seen many examples of this in our lives. Meat eaters become vegetarians, drug addicts become clean, the desperate find hope simply by chanting the Maha Mantra. The Hare Krishna mantra wakes us up and connects us with God.

Famous musicians attracted to Hare Krishna

George Harrison wrote the song My Sweet Lord. It was a number one song for a long time in the US and all around the word. This led millions of people to sing the Mahamantra. The Hare Krishna mantra also became popular when millions of people saw the musical Hair. Even the progressive rock band Quintessence chanted the Holy name of Krishna for millions in the US and across Europe. The Hare Krishna mantra is the most well-known of all mantras or religious prayers on this planet.

 

Listen to My Sweet Lord and look at some great photos of George Harrison chanting the Maha mantra


 

ByVrinda Kunja Ashram

Karma and reincarnation

The unified concept of karma and reincarnation is a fundamental aspect of Hindu philosophy. Various concepts of karma and reincarnation have captivated the minds of people since the dawn of human civilization. This mysterious and intriguing subject has been debated by spiritual and religious leaders, philosophers and great thinkers past and present. Here, a short but illuminating article by Vrinda family member Radha Govinda devi from Switzerland offers a unique Vedic perspective on the matter.

How to become free from karma and reincarnation?

Karma and Reincarnation

In Sanskrit language, the word “karma”  literally means action. An action necessarily also includes its reaction. It is a physical law, that whenever an action is done, it is followed by a reaction (“actio=reactio”). For people, this means that whatever action one does, a reaction will follow. If one sows a good seed, the resulting fruit will be good. If somebody performs a bad deed, an unwanted weed or bad reaction will come.

“Prarabdha Karma”

The law of karma explains very easily for example why somebody becomes ill.  An action must have been made in the past that has caused the illness to manifest now. “Prarabdha karma” is the karma or reaction that is visible now because of a seed or action  that was made sometime before. But how does it happen, for example, that very young children become ill,  or that someone is born into a  poor or rich family? Does this mean they did some bad or good action before? But when? The Vedas, the ancient Indian scriptures tell us that the actions must have been done in a previous life.

Bhagavad Gita

It is explained in the Bhagavad Gita, that like the embodied soul that continuously passes in this body, from infancy to youth, to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. The example is given, that one changes bodies like the changing of clothes. Someone who has taken birth is sure to die, and after death one is sure to take birth again. This is the teaching of reincarnation. This cycle of birth and death is called samsara, and it goes on and on.

Breaking free from karma and reincarnation

How is it possible to exit this cycle of birth and death? If one must pay for each action of the past, while continually creating new actions, how can one stop this eternal cycle? The core of hindu philosophy, Bhagavad Gita states that the only way to come out of this cycle is for us  to realize our true selves as spirit souls and to develop a loving relationship with God our creator, Krishna. By engaging in devotional service to the Lord, sages or devotees free themselves from the results of work in the material world and become liberated from the cycle of birth and death, and attain the state beyond all miseries, namely going back home, back to Godhead.

Back to Godhead

Anything is possible. Transcend karma and reincarnation.

Beyond this temporary material world lies another world, the eternal spiritual abode of Krishna, God. He loves us, His children, and wants us to come back to Him, if we so desire, with our free will. As soon as a person starts to approach God through devotional service, prayers or chanting of His Holy Names, The Lord will reciprocate by granting His mercy.

It is explained in the Vedas, that the entire karma of a person can change in this way. Then life will no longer hold the burden of karmic reactions, but rather a loving exchange will unfold between the soul and the greatest Soul, Lord Krishna. If someone thinks lovingly of Krishna at the end of his life, while leaving his body, he will certainly go back home, back to Godhead, as Krishna promises in the Bhagavad Gita. In spiritual world ther is no karma and reincarnation.

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