Category Archives: Discover Spirituality

What is Sanatan Dharma?

devotee of krishna association chaitanya sanatan dharma

Dharma is often interpreted as “duty,” “religion” or “religious duty” and yet its definition is more profound, defying the concise English translation. The word ‘Dharma’ originates from the Sanskrit root “dhri,” which means “to sustain.” Another correlated meaning of ‘Dharma’ is ‘that which is indispensable and fundamental to something’. The word ‘Sanatan’ translates to ‘eternal’ and the phrase ‘Sanatan Dharma’ alludes to that which is eternally integral to a living entity. That which is ‘Sanatan’ does not have either a beginning or an end. Likewise, ‘Sanatan Dharma’ is timeless, non-sectarian and not limited by any boundaries. Religion conveys the idea of faith, and faith of a person may change. But ‘Sanatan Dharma’ is that which cannot be changed. For instance liquidity cannot be taken away from water, nor can heat be taken away from fire.

Continue Reading…


Sri Pancha Tattva – Chaitanya, Nityananda, Advaita, Gadadhara, Srivasa

Pancha Tattva – The Absolute truth (Supreme Lord) in five features :

pancha tattva

Pancha Tattvatmakam Krishnam
Bhakta rupa svarupakam
Bhaktavataram bhaktakhyam
Namami bhakta saktikam

I offer my obeisances unto the Supreme Lord, Sri Krishna, who is non-different from His features as a devotee (Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu), devotional manifestation (Sri Nityananda Prabhu), devotional incarnation (Sri Advaita Acarya), devotional energy (Sri Gadadhara Pandita) and pure devotee (Sri Srivasa Pandita).

The Pancha Tattva (Pancha means ‘five’ and tattva means ‘truth’), as mentioned above, incarnate along with Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the Supreme Lord, and in this way, He manifests His sankirtana movement with great pleasure. Spiritually there are no differences between these five truths, for on the transcendental platform everything is absolute. Yet at the same time, there are also varieties in the spiritual world and it is important to differentiate between them to taste these spiritual varieties. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and His associates, who are together known as the Pancha Tattva, had distributed the holy name of Lord Krishna to invoke the love of Godhead throughout the universe.

The three predominators – Lord Chaitanya, Nityananda Prabhu and Advaita Acharya are worshipable by all living entities. The fourth principle, Sri Gadadhara Pandita, is to be understood as their worshiper. There are innumerable pure unalloyed devotees of the Lord headed by Srivasa Pandita. The associates of the Lord in His various pastimes are all His confidential eternal devotees. Only with them does the Lord appear to propound the sankirtana movement. It is only with their help that the Lord relishes the mellows of conjugal love and then distributes this love of God to the general populace.

Continue Reading…


27 facts of Life | Gaudiya Vaishnavism

meaning facts life vaishnavism

Life as we know it is a wonderful opportunity to recognize our true potentials and utilize them to help us and others perfect their existence. Being accustomed to the bondage of material existence, it is almost impossible for one to decipher the meaning of life on his own. Tired of suffering the pangs of material miseries, or being very inquisitive to reach the ultimate truth, a few fortunate souls might become the recipient of divine mercy. Life grows beautiful and the facts of life are interpreted very differently, once the seeds of devotion are rooted in one’s heart. The following article is an interpretation of the colorful panorama of life from the viewpoint of the philosophy of Gaudiya Vaishnavism.

Continue Reading…


Shiva Ashtakam : Prayers to Lord Shiva – by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu

shiva ashtakam prayers

‘Sri Krishna Chaitanya Carita Maha Kavya’ written by Murari Gupta cites the below captivating Shiva Ashtakam (prayers offered unto Lord Shiva) composed by Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and recited at a place called Ekamraka (situated near Bhubaneswar). Murari Gupta describes that Lord Gauranga walking like a ferocious lion eventually reached the village of Ekamraka. Gaura’s heart ran wild to meet with Shiva (the great Vaishnava). Great longings filled His heart. He became wild with ecstatic loving emotions. Seeing the flag fluttering on top of the temple, Lord Gaurahari offered His obeisances. He got up and continued walking until he was able to enter the temple of Shiva. Being overwhelmed with ecstasy, Mahaprabhu recited the below prayers again and again.

(1)
namo namas te tri-dasesvaraya
bhutadi nathaya mrdaya nityam

ganga tarangotthita bala chandra
cudaya gauri nayanotsavaya

(2)
su-tapta camikara chandra nila padma
pravalambuda kanti vastraih

su-ntya rangeta vara pradaya
kaivalya nathaya va dhvajaya

(3)
sudhasu suryagni vilocanena
tamo bhide te jagatah sivaya

sahasra subhrasu sahasra rasmi
sahasra sanjittvara tejase ‘stu

(4)
nagesa ratnojjvala vigrahaya
sarddula carmasukha divya tejase

sahasra patropari samsthitaya
varangadamukta bhuja dvayaya

(5)
su nupuraranjita pada padma
karat sudha bhtya sukha pradaya

vicitra ratnaugha vibhuitaya
premanam evadya harau vidhehi

(6)
sri rama govinda mukunda saure
sri krsna narayana vasudeva

ity adi namamta pana matta
bhngadhipayakhila duhkha hantre

(7)
sri naradadyaih satata sugopya
jijnasitayasu vara pradaya

tebhyo harer bhakti sukha pradaya
sivaya sarvva gurave namah

(8)
sri gauri-netrotsava mangalaya
tat prana nathaya rasa pradaya

sada samutkantha govinda lila
gana pravinaya namo stu tubhyam

Translation

(1)
I forever offer my obesisances unto you, the controller of the thirty primal demigods; unto you, who is the original father of created beings and who is gracious, and from whose head, which is crested by the sickle moon, arises the waves of Ganga. I offer my obeisances unto you, who is a festival for the eyes of Gauri, the fair goddess.

(2)
I offer my obeisances unto you, who resembles a moon of molten gold hue, who is dressed in garments glowing like fresh blue lotuses or like radiant rainclouds; (I offer my obeisances) unto you who bestows the most desirable boons upon your devotees through your delightful dancing; (I offer my obeisances) unto you who are the Lord of the impersonalists and whose flag bears the image of the bull.

(3)
I offer my obeisances unto you, who dispels darkness with your three eyes – the moon, the sun, and the fire; (I offer my obeisances) unto you, who generates auspiciousness for all the living entities of the universe and you, whose potency easily defeats that of thousands of moons and suns.

chaitanya mahaprabhu Lakshmipriya vishnupriya shiva

(4)
I offer my obeisances unto you, whose form is brilliantly illuminated by the jewels of Ananta Deva, the king of snakes. I offer my obeisances unto you, who possesses divine potencies and are clothed in a tiger skin, who sits upon a lotus of thousand petals, and whose two arms are adorned by radiant bangles.

(5)
I offer my obeisances unto you, who carries happiness unto your servitors as you pour on them the liquid nectar flowing from your reddish lotus-feet, that rings with charming ankle bells. Obeisances unto you, who are embellished with an abundance of gems. Please endow me today with pure love for Sri Hari!

(6)
O, Sri Rama! O, Govinda! O Mukunda! O Sauri! O, Sri Krishna! O Narayana! O Vasudeva! I offer my obeisances unto you, Sri Shiva, who is the monarch of intoxicated bee-like devotees, who are mad to drink the nectar of these and other innumerable Holy Names of Lord Hari. Obeisances unto you, who destroys all grief.

(7)
I offer my respectful obeisances again and again unto you, who are forever inquired confidentially by Sri Narada and other sages. You also grant favors upon them very quickly. (I offer my respectful obeisances) unto you, who bestows the happiness of Hari bhakti (devotion unto Lord Hari) unto those who seek boons from you and thereby creating auspiciousness. You are thus the Guru (spiritual master) of everyone.

(8)
I offer my obeisances unto you, who is a festival of auspiciousness for the eyes of goddess Gauri (Durga). You are the monarch of her life-air. (I offer my obeisances) unto you who bestows rasa and are expert in eagerly singing songs praising the pastimes of Govinda.

Benefits of hearing this Shiva Ashtakam prayers with love and rapt attention :

etat sivasyatakam adbhuta mahat
srnvan hari-prema labheta sighram
jnanam ca vijnanam apurva vaibhavam
yo bhava purnah paramam samadaram

A person who lovingly hears with rapt attention to these eight-fold prayers to Shiva can quickly gain devotion unto Lord Hari as well as transcendental knowledge, the realization of that knowledge, and unprecedented devotional potency.


Teachings of Vaishnava Acharyas – Vishnuswami, Nimbarka ,Ramanuja, Madhva and Sri Chaitanya

Shuddhadvaita-vada : Philosophy of one of the great Vaishnava acharyas – Sri Vishnu Swami (Rudra Sampradaya) :

Rudradvipa, which is one of the nine islands of Nabadwip, is the residence of all the eleven Rudras. Headed by Nila-lohita Shiva, the Rudras eternally chant over here the glories of Lord Gauranga and dance in ecstasy. Witnessing their ecstatic pastimes, the demigods shower flowers upon them from the heavens.
In ‘Nabadwip Dham Mahatmya’ it is described that Sri Vishnuswami, one of the great Vaishnava Acharyas , had once come to this island of Rudradvipa and stayed here along with his followers. Being pleased with his intense devotion unto Lord Krishna, Nila-Lohita shiva mercifully bestowed his auspicious darsana unto him. On being asked for a boon, Sri Vishnuswami humbly begged for a sampradaya (spiritual lineage) that would propagate the science of pure devotion unto Lord Krishna. Nila Lohita Shiva consented and named the sampradaya after himself. This is how the ‘Rudra Sampradaya’, which is one of the four bonafide Vaishnava sampradayas, came into being.

Continue Reading…


Glories of Vaishnava and Vaishnavism (Krishna Consciousness)

vaishnava vaishnavism krishna

The following article explores the unending glories of a Vaishnava, his devotion, intense mood, and why he is worshipable for all. Similarly, Vaishnavism, the path of practicing loving devotion (Krishna Consciousness) towards the supreme Lord Krishna, is the most exalted and glorious of all the other means of self-realization.

  • #1 Vaishnavas, the devotees of the Supreme Lord Sri Hari, are not subjected to the fruits of Karma. They are highly respected by the demigods including Yamaraja and are not subjected to their punishment. The following verse from Srimad Bhagavatam confirms this statement.

te deva siddha-parigita-pavitra-gatha
ye sadhavah samadriso bhagavat prapannah
tan nopasidata harer gadayabhiguptan
naisam vayam na ca vayah prabhavama dande

(Srimad Bhagavatam 6.3.27)

Yamaraja instructs Yamadutas, “My dear servants, please do not approach such devotees (vaishnava), for they have fully surrendered to the lotus feet of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. They are equal to everyone, and their narrations are recited by the demigods and even the inhabitants of Siddhaloka. Please do not go near them. They are always protected by the club of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and therefore Lord Brahma, I, and even the time factor are not qualified to chastise them”.

The Skanda Purana states –

Na brahma na sivagnindra naham nanye divaukasah
Saktas tu nigraham kartum vaishnavanam mahatmanam

Lord Brahma, Lord Shiva, Agni, Indra and myself (Yamaraja) and other demigods are unable to chastise the broad-minded Vaishnavas.

 

Continue Reading…


The Indian Varna System

indian caste system hinduism

The Indian Varna system (caste system), which is often painted negatively and presented likewise even in school textbooks, is perhaps one of the most misinterpreted social hierarchies of the world. It is popularly accepted that the Indian caste system is at least 3000 years old, though an analysis of the Vedic literatures suggests that it is perhaps as old as Sanatana Dharma (Hinduism) itself. This article attempts to exhibit the system of Varna (class) and Ashrama (order) as it had been originally conceived and how it has gradually degenerated with time. The article also seeks to establish how the caste system is an integral part of any successful society and an indispensable tool to ensure its survival.

Continue Reading…


Devotee of Lord Krishna | Power of devotee association

devotee of krishna association chaitanya

Sri Rupa Goswami, foremost of the six Goswamis of Vrindavana, delineates the actions that help boost one’s devotional life and those that serve as impediments hindering one’s spiritual progress. He writes in his ‘Nectar of Instructions’ that associating with worldly-minded people, who are not drawn to devotion, is one such action that is detrimental to spiritual progress (jana sangas ca laulyam ca sadbhir bhaktir vinashyati). He therefore urges a serious devotee of Lord Krishna to renounce such material association in order to achieve success in his/her spiritual endeavors (sanga tyagat sato vritteh sadbhir bhaktih prasidhyati). The Vedic Literatures are full of such evidences that establish the sublime benefits of associating with a pure devotee of the Supreme Lord (Sri Krishna). Spirituality fosters in the association of devotees while materialistic company promotes materialistic pursuits. Hence the wise choose their association carefully acknowledging that their consciousness is affected by the company they keep.

Spirit and matter are fundamentally opposed to each other. One can either live in spiritual or else in material consciousness. Likewise, material and spiritual attachments are inversely proportional to each other. Lord Krishna, the Supreme Lord, is the master of countless potencies.

parasya saktir vividhaiva sruyate – His energies are innumerable and immeasurable (Svetasvatara Upanishad 6.8) 

These potencies can be grouped primarily into internal, marginal, and external. The internal energy of the Supreme Lord constitutes the eternal, blissful, and cognizant spiritual world. Those who possess a spiritual consciousness and seek the shelter of the Supreme Lord fall within the purview of the Lord’s internal energy (Hladini shakti). On the other hand, this temporary world of matter falls within the purview of the Lord’s external energy (Bahiranga shakti). The living entities of this world, however, belong to a third category. They belong to the marginal potency or the ‘tatastha shakti’ of the Supreme Lord. ‘Tata’ refers to the region between land and water, and hence it holds the properties of both. Therefore ‘tata’ cannot be referred to as belonging purely to either land or water. Similarly, the living entities of this world have a choice to be attracted to either the world of spirit or the world of matter. Though the living entity is a part and parcel of the Supreme Lord and spiritual by nature, yet sometimes it may become overwhelmed by this temporary world of dull matter. Those living beings who grow bewildered by the illusory energy (Maya) of the Lord and consequently try to enjoy this temporary material world, become controlled by the external potency (bahiranga shakti) of the Supreme Lord. These unfortunate souls deviate from their constitutional position as a servant of the Supreme Lord and indulge in sense gratification by trying to Lord over matter. However, their efforts only die in frustration as flickering sensual pleasures can never fully satisfy a living being who is eternally hankering for pure spiritual bliss. On the other hand, those wise living entities (devotee of Krishna), who choose to engage in the devotional service of the Supreme Lord become controlled by the Lord’s internal energy (Hladini shakti).

Continue Reading…


Truth of Sita Haran (Kidnap) in Ramayan | Sita Rama and Chaitanya Mahaprabhu

sita haran in ramayan rama chaitanya mahaprabhu

When Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was traveling across South India, He met with a brahmana who happened to be a great devotee of Lord Rama. This amazing pastime occurred at ‘Southern Mathura’, a place that is today known as Madurai. The brahmana invited Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu for lunch. The brahmana forever remained immersed contemplating upon the pastimes of Ramayan. He was totally detached from material activities. Hence this brahmana was also known as Rama Dasa Vipra (a brahmana servant of Lord Rama). After bathing in the river Kritamala, Lord Chaitanya arrived at the brahmana’s residence. He was surprised to see that the food was not yet ready.

Continue Reading…


How old is the Indian civilization? – World and Sanatan Dharma

how old is the indian civilization sanatan

How old is the Indian civilization and its Sanatan Dharma?

In his Discourse on Sanskrit and Its Literature, given at the College of France, Professor Bournouf addresses this question as to how old is the Indian civilization and its Sanatan Dharma? He says, “We will study India with its philosophy and its myths, its literature, its laws and its language. Nay it is more than India, it is a page of the origin of the world that we will attempt to decipher.”

Max Mueller observed in history of Sanskrit Literature, “In the Rig-veda we shall have before us more real antiquity than in all the inscriptions of Egypt or Ninevah…the Veda is the oldest book in existence..”

The famous German thinker, Schopenhaur, remarked in the introduction to his book, ‘The Upanishads’, “In the whole world there is no study so beneficial and so elevating as that of the Upanishads. It has been the solace of my life (and) it will be the solace of my death.”

Continue Reading…