Saturday, August 20, 2011

Bhagavan Sri Krishna - Source of Joy in Life

Bhagavan Sri KRISHNA - Source of Joy in Life

M. G. Prasad ________________________________________________________________________

Sri Krishna Jayanthi marks the celebration of the birth of Bhagavan Sri Krishna. Even saying and remembering His name brings joy because Sri Krishna himself was a manifestation of joy at all levels and in all walks of life. The Parabramhan (Supreme Being) as Sriman Narayana incarnated and manifested in Sri Krishna- the adorable son of Devaki and Vasudeva. The word Krishna itself refers to the causal force of all divine and joyful works (Sarva devata karyam karoti iti va Krishnaha). At the same time, Sri Krishna also refers to the causal force, which destroys the demonic energies and removes ignorance (Daityam karshayati iti va Krishnaha). Sri Krishna represents the total power of attraction (Aakarshana Shakti) like a magnet of infinite strength and size. Hence Krishna is the source of Joy.

Any festival in the Hindu context generally has three aspects namely philosophical, religious and cultural. The integration of the three gives spiritual joy. The philosophical aspects deal with the knowledge of the personality behind the festival. Sri Krishna, is the manifestation of Sanatana Dharma. Through the handbook on life namely Bhagavad-Gita in Mahabharata, Lord Krishna through answers to the questions of devotee Arjuna, explains the meaning and purpose of life for all devotees at all times everywhere. The great Bheeshma in Mahabharata through Vishnu Sahasranama (1000 names of Vishnu) gives the attributes of Vishnu in front of Sri Krishna, as both Vishnu and Krishna are essentially one and the same.

The religious aspects deal with the ritualistic details the corresponding worship, chanting and recitation. Sri Krishna’s deity is formally worshipped through Vedic chanting and stotras or hymns. Since Lord Krishna was born at midnight, symbolizing light dispelling darkness, the worshipping is done in the night leading to mid-night. The mantapam or structure built to house the Lord, is elaborately decorated with fruits and specially prepared snacks and flowers, representing sensory joy as an offering to Bhagavan Sri Krishna. The cultural aspects are represented by the traditionally dresses worn by devotees. The raas or dance is also done with devotees taking part with spiritual joy.

Sri. Krishna resonated with devotees at all levels. He played as a child with children. He played youthful with the youth. He was a statesman in the politics. He was the blessing Bhagavan for His devotees. He manifested at all levels of joy, namely spiritual, mental and physical. If all the three aspects of the festival and joys are integrated, then the observance of the festival takes on the full meaning of Sri Krishnaarpanamastu - Let everything be offered by us to Bhagavan Sri Krishna. Let us remember the multi-faceted greatness of Bhagavan Sri Krishna. May Bhagavan Sri Krishna, the source of joy bless joy and peace to all of us.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Bhagavad-Gita as a dialogue

The Bhagavad-Gita as a dialogue

Dr. M.G. Prasad


The Bhagvad-Gita (authored by sage Vyasa in Sanskrit language has 700 verses) is a unique conversation between the devotee Arjuna (representing the individual-self and Lord Krishna (representing the Cosmic-Self). The dialogue in the form of questions (by Arjuna) and the answers (by Lord Krishna) deal with the fundamentals of life and the reality, which has universal relevance at all times. Bhagvad-Gita is a hand book for living and life. Bhagavad-Gita is also termed as Gitopanishat, Bramha-Vidya (as it deals with the nature of Bramhan, the ultimate reality, and its attributes) and Yogashastra [as it expounds the various paths of achieving the goal (Yoga)].

The Bhagavad-Gita is the answers by Lord Krishna to the most profound questions (around 20) by the great devotee Arjuna. The dialogues are in poetic form (literally meaning Gita), which is well suited for recitation. The Gita is also considered as a literary classic in addition to its recognition as a classical representation of the perennial philosophy.

The Bhagavad-Gita is replete with concepts and their modes of applications. Some of the concepts are: Despondency, Various Features of steady wisdom, Interrelations between action and their qualities, Devotion and Knowledge, Achievement of Perfection, Various Mental Qualities, Glories and Attributes of the Universal-Self (Divine), Renunciation and its nature, Meditation, The Observer and the Observed, Divine and Demonic qualities, Mysticism an its Subtleties, Cause and Effect, Attributes of form and formless, Temporal and Eternal, Path and Goal, Faith and its Attributes, Freedom and its nature, Realization and its nature etc.

The Bhagavad-Gita appears in great historical Indian epic Mahabharata authored by sage Vyasa in Sanskrit language. The Mahabharata has 100,000 verses. The Bhagavad-Gita along with Upanishads and Bramha Sutras (aphorisms dealing with Bramhan) form the Prasthanatraya, the triadic foundation of Vedanta. Also, Bhagavad-Gita is regarded as the quintessence of the Upanishadic literature.

In this article the Bhagavad-Gita is put in the form of a dialogue (questions and answers) in a brief form. It is intended that this article will enable readers to go deeper into the text. Questions asked by Arjuna are identified by Q and the answers given by Lord Krishna are identified by A. The chapter and verse numbers are also identified.


Q: Oh! Madhava, I cannot keep my body and mind steady. How can we be happy by

hurting our own people? (1.30, 1.37, 1.45)

A: Oh! Arjuna, why do you have dejection during this crisis? (2.2)

Q: Please accept me as your disciple and clear my doubts and confusion. (2.7)

A: Your grievance is not appropriate and wise ones do not grieve over either the living

or the dead. (2.11)

Q: What are the characteristics of a “sthita prajna?” (2.54)

A: A person of steady wisdom “sthitha prajna”, having renounced all the desires of the

mind is satisfied in the self. (2.55)

Q: If knowledge is better than action, why act? (3.1)

A: The two-fold path given by me is the path of knowledge to the discerning and the

path of action to the active. (3.3)

Q: What makes a person commit sinful deeds as if by compulsion? (3.36)

A: The desire and anger, which would result form Rajoguna are all consuming and all-

sinful. They are the enemies. (3.37)

Q: How could you have taught your ancestors? (4.4)

A: Many are births taken by Me and you. I know all of them, while you know not. (4.5)

Q: Which is better? Renunciation of action or yoga of action? (5.1)

A: Renunciation and performance of action, both lead to freedom. Of the two;

performance of action is superior to its renunciation. (5.2)

Q: How to control mind, which is restless, fickle… (6.33, 6.34)

A: Mind is indeed restless and difficult to control but can be controlled by conscious

repetitive effort and dispassion. (6.35)

Q: What is the fate of one who has fallen form yoga in spite of faith? (6.37, 6.38)

A: A yogi is never destroyed, neither in this world nor in the next. A doer of good does

not tread the path of grief. (6.40)

Q: What is Bramhan, Adhyatma, Karma, Adhibhuta, Adhidaiva, Adhiyagna? How to

know You at the time of death? (8.1, 8.2)

A: The imperishable is Bramhan. The subjective-self (Adhyatma) in individual is his

nature. The creative force is Karma, which is the cause of existence and

manifestation of all beings. (8.3). Adhibhuta pertains to perishable nature and

Adhidaiva is the Purusha. Adhiyajna is Myself abiding in all beings. (8.4) One who

remembers Me at the time of his or her death (leaving their body), will attain My

Bhava (My Awareness) without doubt. (8.5)

Q: In how many forms and aspects of yours can I dwell upon? (10.17)

A: I shall tell you My Divine glories that are prominent. However, there is no end to

the details of my manifestations (10.19). I am the self, seated in the heart of all

beings. Also, I am the Beginning, the Middle and the End of all beings (10.20).

Q: If you find me fit, please reveal to me your imperishable form. (11.4)

A: Oh! Partha! Behold my hundreds and thousands of Divine forms of different colors

and shapes (11.5).

Q: Adorations to you. What is your nature and activities? (11.31)

A: I am the mighty world-destroying Time now engaged in wiping out the world. Even

without you, the warriors assembled here shall not live (11.32).

Q: Please resume to your normal form (from Universal form). (11.46)

A: Being pleased with you, I have revealed to you (through my power of yoga). My

Cosmic form is luminous, universal and endless. This form has not been seen by

anyone other than you (11.47).

Q: Now my mind is composed after seeing you again in normal form. (11.51)

A: It is by single-minded devotion alone that I can be known, seen in Reality and also

entered into (11.54).

Q: Among the two devoted to God, with form (You) and without form, who is better in

yoga? (12.1)

A: Those who having immersed their mind in Me and endowed with faith sincerely

worship Me with consistent devotion are in my opinion best skilled in yoga (12.2)

Q: What are Prakriti, Purusha; Kshetra, Kshetrajna; Jnana, Jneya? (13.0 in some


A: This body is called as Kshetra (the field) and knower of the field is Kshetrajna. Know

Me, as the Kshetrajna of all the fields. The knowledge to be gained is that of both

Kshetra and Kshetrajna. Prakriti is the cause of activity and its doer with the help of

the senses. Purusha is the cause of experiences due to pleasures and pains


Q: What are the characteristics of the one who has transcended three Gunas? (14.21).

A: He does not hate the light, activity and delusion and also does not long for them in

their absence. He is said to have risen above Gunas whose response is same for honor

and dishonor, friend and foe and also he relinquishes (the attachment to fruits of) his

action. (14.22, 14,25)

Q: What is their position who acts by faith rather by scriptural reference? Is it of Satva

or Rajas or Tamas? (17.1)

A: The shraddha (faith) is of the three kinds. They are innate and untutored. They are

based on Satva, Rajas and Tamas. The Satvic adore Devas, the Rajasic adore Yakshas

and Rakshasas and Tamasic adore Pretas and Bhutas (17.2, 17.4)

Q: Instruct me about the true nature of Sanyasa and Tyaga? (18.1)

A: The renunciation of Kamya Karma (actions for specific desires) is understood as

Sanyasa and Tyaga is the abandonment of fruits of all actions. Tyaga is abandoning

the fruits of necessary actions of Yagna, Daana and Tapas. This is my decisive view.

Thus, most profound knowledge has been described to you by Me. After reflecting on

this, act as you choose. (18.2, 18.4 to 18.6, 18.63)

Arjuna said: My delusions are cleared and my identity is regained. I shall follow your instructions. (18.73)

Sanjaya said:

“This wonderful dialogue that I have heard between great Partha and Lord Vasudeva is causing my hairs to stand.” (18.74)

“Through the grace of Maharishi Vyasa I have heard this profound description on yoga directly form Lord of Yoga (Sri Krishna) Himself.” (18.75)

“My conviction is that wherever Partha, the bearer of the bow and Lord of Yoga, Sri Krishna are; there will be prosperity, victory, happiness and steady wisdom. (18.78)


Dr. M.G. Prasad is a spiritual disciple of yogi-seer Sriranga Sadguru of Ashtanga Yoga Vijnana Mandiram, Mysore, India. Dr. Prasad is a professor of Mechanical Engineering at Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, New Jersey. He has written four books on Hinduism. He lectures on Hinduism at schools, colleges, temples and churches.

Haridasas of Karnataka

Haridasas of Karnataka

M.G. Prasad (


The word “dasa” means “a slave”. It is well known that a slave refers to one who has no freedom whatsoever. This loss of freedom in the case of human beings is not something that can be easily accepted or understood. Also it is to be made clear whether this loss of freedom refers to body, mind or soul. It is a common human experience that any amount of loss of freedom reflects a suffering rather than joy. So, the question is how and why anyone wants to be a slave or a dasa? An answer for this question is that an individual will transform into a dasa after encountering the limitations of one’s own self and a personal overpowering experience of the Omnipotent, Omniscient and Omnipresent Supreme Being. This Supreme Being is referred as Sriman Narayana or Sri Hari. Thus dasatva (or becoming a slave to the Supreme Being) is an individual’s true experience of the total loss of limited and finite freedom. A dasa realizes that this notion of limited freedom was the source of various undesirable qualities such ego, arrogance, greed, etc. The transformation into dasatva is a one time irreversible transformation. Such dasas of Lord Hari dedicate their lives to joyfully sing and describe the glories of the Lord. They show the way for others who seek dasatva.

Transformational Experience of Purandara Dasa:

There are many Haridasas and their lives and literature is eternally inspiring. Purandara dasa is such a Haridasa who went through such a transformational experience. In the life before transformation, Purandara dasa was known as Sreenivasa Nayaka, who was a very rich but miser merchant in the empire of Vijayanagara. He was known for not giving any charity. Srinivasa Nayaka had owned a pawnshop. Once a poor Brahmin came with his son seeking charity from Srinivasa Nayaka for conducting sacred thread ceremony. Srinivasa Nayaka refused to give any charity in spite of poor Brahmin seeking for charity several times. Then once, the poor Brahmin went to Srinivasa Nayaka’s home (when he was in the pawnshop) and asked for charity from Saraswati Devi, wife of Srinivasa Nayaka. Saraswati Devi, who was a compassionate lady, gave her diamond (nose) ring to poor Brahmin. Although she was afraid of her husband, she gave her diamond ring as she had received it by her mother.

The poor Brahmin with his son after receiving the nose ring went right away to the Srinivasa Nayaka. When Srinivasa Nayaka was about to drive him away, the poor Brahmin said he has now come to sell the diamond ring for money so that he can conduct the sacred thread ceremony. When Srinivasa Nayaka saw the diamond ring, immediately he recognized it as his wife’s ring. In that moment, he kept the diamond ring locked very safely in a box in the shop and closed the shop and asked poor Brahmin and son to wait near the shop. Then he rushed to his house with anger and demanded from his wife her diamond nose ring. Saraswati Devi with fear told that she had kept it in kitchen and went inside to bring it. Srinivasa Nayaka was waiting outside with impatience. Saraswati Devi as she was nervous went to kitchen took some poison in the cup. She was about to drink by taking Lord Hari’s name, and then a miracle happened. She heard the sound of diamond (nose) ring falling into the cup. Immediately she brought the diamond ring and gave it to her husband. Srinivasa Nayaka was greatly puzzled with this and he immediately ran to his shop. He hurriedly opened the safe locker box in which he had locked the diamond ring but could not find it. He was shocked and astonished. Also he could not find both Brahmin and his son. At that moment Srinivasa Nayaka was totally transformed.

Here was Srinivasa Nayaka who was attached to money and was ever careful in his trade. However he could not even understand what happened. He experienced utter helplessness to understand the turn of events. All his ego and greed was removed. His total attachment to wealth was turned to detachment to wealth and attachment to God. He realized that poor Brahimn was none other than Lord Hari himself. He relinquished all his wealth. He became Purandaradasa. Lord Purandara is another name for Lord Hari.

Compositions of Purandara Dasa:

Purandara dasa composed innumerable songs, which bring out devotion, knowledge and spiritual wisdom. In his songs we can see the joy of surrender to the Lord Purandara. In one of his songs, Purandara dasa compares our dependence on the Lord to that of a traveler (jeeva) in a boat (body) on the boatman (Lord Narayana).

Oh! Lord, the boatman, You are the Husband of the Mother of the Universe. I have put total faith in you.

The body is like a boat. The body has nine openings (two eyes, two nostrils, two ears, mouth and two excretory passages) Oh! Boatman, please steer this boat with your affection, as You only know the destination.

Oh! Boatman, see the turbulence in my life, which are strongly pushing and pulling me. I am getting caught in whirlpool of birth and death, please hold me and take me out of the whirlpool.

Oh! Boatman, see the six types of huge waves (hunger, thirst, suffering, illusive attachment, old age and death) that are attacking me. Nobody else except you can protect me from the onslaught of these waves.

Oh! Boatman, time is passing by and I am surrounded by two groups of five members (first group of cognitive senses: ears, skin, eyes, tongue, and nose and second group of senses of action: mouth, hands, legs, excretory and procreative organ). Please take me and give me the vision of Truth.

Oh! Boatman, take me through the sublime path with highest level of devotion as the means to the abode of Purandara Vitthala, which is abode of total freedom (liberation).

Concluding remarks:

Through many soul-stirring compositions, Haridasas guide us through the spiritual path. Their lives and compositions provide the inspirations and divine experiences. Their teachings are in simple Kannada language so that any seeker can understand and use it in his or her spiritual development. For the seekers, who have taken refuge in Lord Hari, the compositions of Haridasa not only provide joy but also show the way to Lord Hari.