Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Krsna lives in our heart or leaves our heart

Whenever negativity achieves stability, Krsna comes as a destabilizing factor. Upholding the truth and undoing the false constitutes the job description of an incarnation.

The last tree in Vrindavan heaved a sorrowful sigh seeing its darling leave for good. He had less to complain about the cruel Akrura and more to protest about the involvement of his brother in this conspiracy. How could a tree allow its body to be used as a chariot wheel to take Krsna away from Vrindavan? Had not all trees taken an oath right from their birth to serve humanity selflessly? Why would a tree accept responsibility for the death of all Vrajavasis in separation from their life, Krsna?

An old wise Tamal tree sensing the disturbance in the mind of his brother, consoled him, “This had to happen one day! Don’t you know Krsna was born for this day?”

All the trees in the vicinity had drooped, shedding their leaves in acute pain of separation from Krsna. Hearing the wise Tamal speak, they instantly straightened up to focus on what he had to say. Perhaps in this conversation lies the solution to the heart’s greatest grieving.

Grieving of the heart in the material world has no real solution. Krsna-katha is not really a solution but actually a replacement for all grieving.

“Just like goose bumps arise all over the skin heralding fear, demoniac kings rise up on the surface of the earth creating terror. In every brink and corner of the world, insensitive self-conscious rulers reigned. The name Kamsa stood apart from the numerous names in this category, and not just stood, he towered over all others. He created a niche for himself to an extent that the world said, even if one is a demon, one should not be as bad as Kamsa.

Kamsa was the son of Ugrasena and also a blot on Ugrasena’s good name. Desperate to become the world supremo, he ruthlessly eliminated foes; and those he couldn’t eliminate, he forged friendships with. Thus unlike-minded people came together for a world un-liked purpose! The deceiver Putana, the ill-habited Sakatasura, the falsely proud Trinavarta, the greedy Vatsasura, the cunning Bakasura, the cruel Aghasura, the ignorant Dhenukasura, the lusty Prahlambasura, the proud Aristasura, the cheater Vyomasuraand, the boastful Keshi; these warlords became the buddies of Kamsa. Of course his greatest ally was Jarasandha, the king of Magadha province and his circumstantial father-in-law. These biggies were the trend-setters for this age. They became inspirational icons for many such ambitious upcoming leaders to make it big quick by breaking all codes of dharma.

Relationships that are embarked upon to achieve new goals are called circumstantial relationships. Be assured that when circumstances change, so do the relationships.

Burdened by these upstarts, mother earth in the form of a humble and gentle cow ran towards Brahma with hope in her heart and desire for peace in her mind. Many problems do not have solutions even at the highest material level. This is precisely when personalities like Brahma who are composed entirely of intelligence, beseech a spiritual solution. Brahma took shelter of Lord Vishnu lying in the milky ocean. The kind Lord assured Brahma that He would soon take birth in the Yadu dynasty as the son of Devaki, the sister of Kamsa and cause the annihilation of the demoniac rulers.

Just like a lock and key are created together, every problem also has a concomitant solution. Kamsa was a problem and the Lord assured Brahma that an apt solution to this complicated problem would take birth very soon.

A lock imprisons and the key liberates.

As Kamsa was micro-planning his expansion, the demigods were cooperating with the macro planning of the Lord and taking birth in the kingdoms of Yadu, Bhoka and Andhaka dynasties as well as surrounding villages like Vrindavan.

The first step of the Lord’s plan was executed on a day when Kamsa was simultaneously celebrating his victories and the marriage of his favorite sister, Devaki. So happy was Kamsa that day that he personally decided to chauffeur the newly married couple to their home. This humble act of Kamsa brought admiration in the eyes of Vasudeva, the son of Surasena and Devaki’s husband. The entire Bhoja dynasty was surprised to see this kind and loving side of Kamsa. However, this admiration could not last long!

In the midst of all the pomp, music, dance and celebrations, Kamsa had visibly relaxed. The residents of Mathura could not remember the last time they had seen their ruthlessly ambitious prince in such a light mood.

The horses of Kamsa’s chariot suddenly neighed and stopped abruptly causing Kamsa to momentarily lose balance. He was suddenly shoved out of his reverie and put face to face with an impossible-to-believe experience. A streak of lightening landed right in front of his chariot and a thunderous laughter from an un-embodied voice echoed in the sky. “You fool! Death is looming over you and you celebrate? The very person for whom you celebrate today will eventually be the cause of your death. The eighth child of Devaki will be your nemesis.”

The insecure Kamsa wanted to annihilate Devaki then and there itself. But with the promise of the truthful Vasudeva to submit every child born to them at Kamsa’s disposal, he restrained himself. Eventually, unable to handle the mental pressure of having his instruments of death freely roaming around, he imprisoned Devaki and Vasudeva.

Over time, the desire to inherit his father’s kingdom got the better of Kamsa. This was naturally aided by the birth of insecurity after the supernatural proclamation. Thus one fine day, he unceremoniously took over the kingdom, throwing his old weak father, Ugrasena into the prison.

The solution to insecurity is not in altering the game of life, but is in altering the frame of mind.

As promised, every child that was born to Vasudeva and Devaki, was painfully handed over to Kamsa. And Kamsa ruthlessly thrashed each one of them on the stone walls of the prison, leaving gory splashes on the walls as agonizing memories for the despondent parents. Six years and six splashes later, Kamsa began to worry about his future. Every kill, rather than increasing his self-confidence, only increased his anxiety. Whereas, every loss, rather than decreasing the confidence of the couple, only increased their faith in the divine prediction.

Confidence is not a by-product of external power and charisma; but a re-product of internal faith in God’s assurances.

The royal confusion started in the royal palace of the royal king, on the day the seventh child was to take birth. The child was declared still born. Kamsa was royally confused now. Was this to be considered birth of the seventh child? Was the next child the eighth or seventh? 

As Kamsa twisted and turned in his bed restlessly, Vasudeva and Devaki found immense solace. Though they did not understand the unfolding events, or how the child had suddenly disappeared from the womb, they still trusted God’s plans. How could they know that the child had been transferred from Devaki’s womb to the womb of Vasudeva’s first wife, Rohini, by the internal energy of Vishnu? But they definitely knew one thing. Their savior and the savior of the entire world, was coming soon!

The seventh child of Devaki was Balarama, who is Anta Sesha, the original spiritual master. The entry of the spiritual master always precedes the entry of Krsna in our lives. The role of the spiritual master is to ensure that the heart is clean for Krsna to enter and reside.

Another year passed in anxiety for Kamsa and in hope for Vasudev and Devaki. Kamsa secured his palaces tightly and increased the security of the jail a hundred fold. It was impossible for even a mosquito to enter or exit the prison without his consent. On d-day, Kamsa put the whole city on red alert and sat prepared fully armed and dressed in his armor ready to fight a war. The moment he received the signal of the birth of his enemy, he would once and for all put an end to his angst.

Hopelessness is sign of atheism and hope is a sign of reliance on God.

In the last few visits, his sister had appeared more and more effulgent; as if the child within Devaki’s womb was radiating the effulgence. Though his intelligence told him so, his ego was unwilling to accept it. He finally managed to discard this reality as an illusion.

The Supreme Personality of Godhead, to fulfill the promise to the demigods and relieve the earth of her burden had appeared within the mind of Vasudeva and from his mind entered into the mind of Devaki and finally settled into her holy womb. The moment the effulgence entered into her womb, Devaki witnessed all kinds of personalities entering into their solitary prison cell to offer respect to her with silent prayers.

On the night when the astrological influence of Rohini star was prominent, under perfect planetary formations, with auspicious omens everywhere and though it was the eighth day of the waning moon, the full moon appeared joyously to celebrate the appearance of the Supreme Lord into his own dynasty, the lunar dynasty. With such a perfect setting, at the stroke of mid-night, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Sri Krsna, appeared as an effulgent child holding the conch, club, disc and lotus in His four hands. Ornamented in the most dazzling jewels, dressed in yellow silk, His blackish-blue complexion contrasted with the shining ornaments on His persona.

Vasudeva and Devaki’s seven years of sacrifice took a new turn today. More selfless the sacrifice, more beautiful is its result. Though he had already sacrificed so much, Vasudeva mentally offered millions of cows in charity to the brahmanas sharing his joy.

The first words that the fortunate parents heard from their child were an instruction, “Take Me to Vrindavan and replace Me with the girl born to Yasoda and Nanda.”

Devotees expect nothing from the Lord except service and the Lord has nothing to offer His devotees, except service.

The selfless Vasudeva and the sobbing Devaki abided by His instructions. As Vasudeva walked with the dazzling baby, the chains dropped off, the doors to the prison house slid open, the guards dozed into a helpless sleep and the swelling Yamuna river welcomed Vasudeva into Vrindavana. Exchanging the babies, Vasudeva returned to the confines of the prison cell. Hearing the cry of the newborn baby, the drowsy guards rush to apprise Kamsa.

New confusion surrounds Kamsa when he finds his sister Devaki pleading to spare her daughter. How can the demigods do this to him? His death to be caused by a girl! What kind of a joke was this? Analyzing carefully, he realized that this whole affair had been illogical and all his calculations had failed him. He could not take any chances. As he pulled the girl from Devaki’s arms and threw her in his six times successful style, the girl slipped and assumed a terrific form, seated on a lion holding unlimited weapons in her numerous hands. With a shrill laughter, she clearly informed Kamsa that the cause of his death was already born elsewhere.

Kamsa panicked! What next? He had no idea what he should be doing and where his killer would be. Enraged, he tried eliminating every child born within the last ten days in the vicinity of Mathura. But miraculously, the son of Vasudeva and Devaki, the death of Kamsa, survived.

In the next 11 years, Kamsa sent unlimited demons who were his friends and allies across his kingdom to finish off his enemy. But whoever reached Vrindavan never returned. Vrindavan naturally became a black hole for Kamsa and he directed all his forces there. When he zoomed into his target and realized that no one was able to defeat him, he decided to call Krsna to Mathura so that he could personally take care of Him. For 11 long years after His birth and for eight long years before His birth, Kamsa had been meditating on Krsna.

The meditation was now unbearable for Kamsa. The meditation became an agitation. Unable to wait any longer, Kaàsa sent his trusted minister Akrüra to get Kåñëa and Balaräma into Mathurä.
A yogi waits for krsna to enter his mind out of grace, but a bhogi forces krsna to enter into his life undeservingly. Though you may be able to force krsna into your life, but you cant control what He will do, once He enters.
Kaàsa ordered the two brothers to participate in a wrestling match with his mountainous wrestlers, Cäëüra and Muñöika. When a mountain steps on a mole hill, all that remains will be dust, thought Kamsa in his haughty pride. Little did he realize that with a few flings of Their arms, Krsna and Balarama, not only destroyed the enormous combatants, but simultaneously and painfully crushed Kamsa’s monumental pride.
Kamsa’s jaw dropped and so did his hopes. And even before Kamsa could recover his breath, Krsna jumped up toward his throne, hauled him down, and battered him on his chest. The one that gave unlimited trouble to the world, could trouble no more. Most people, who witnessed this, could hardly believe that such a universal tyrant could be subdued so easily!
Impossibility is a term only in the minds of mankind. And over-confidence is a term only in the minds of the wrong-kind.
These 11 years in Vrindavan, time seemed to have stopped for the Vrajavasis. All their lives they would remember every gesture of Krsna’s body, every word from Krsna’s lips, every song from Krsna’s flute, every step from Krsna’s feet and every look from Krsna’s eyes. The life of every person in Vrindavan revolved around these 11 years. Time will not influence the people here anymore.”

As the Tamal tree completed the story of Krsna’s birth, every tree in its vicinity was shedding tears profusely. The entire night had slipped pass with the trees totally absorbed in the divine story of Krsna. It was late in the morning now, as they exchanged glances, not knowing how to handle the separation they were feeling from Vrajendra Nandana.

Suddenly they heard an ear-splitting cry, and then a sudden lull followed with victory cries. Kamsa had been killed by Krsna! Joy for Mathura, but what for Vrindavan? A lifetime of memories!

The power of remembrance has to be used in remembering Krsna’s pastimes and glories. By filling the storage capacity of their minds with Krsna-katha, the residents of Vrindavan left no space for worries and anxieties to occupy.


“Bravo! Bravo! Krsna Balarama ki jai!” hailed all over the universe. The universal heroes were satisfied seeing the gesture of gratitude in the eyes of the world.

Friday, 3 June 2016

A COSTLY MISTAKE

 What are the characteristics of a good leader? What is good leadership all about? A good leader is one who is inspiring, a decision maker, proactive, and so on. Good leaders also possess the requisite foresight which prevents them from making a mistake. And if at all a mistake is made, they quickly rectify and ensure that it is not repeated.

Let’s take Gaddafi for example, a Libyan revolutionary and politician. He was one leader who never learnt from his mistakes arising out of autocratic leadership bordering on terrorism; his behavior was unexpected from any dignified head of state. He was ultimately humiliated and killed by his own people.

A leader making a mistake does not imply lack of intelligence but a lack of foresight. But repeating the mistake indicates a lack of intelligence.

Surprisingly, timeless sagas like Ramayana can reveal a lot of lessons on leadership if one makes the effort to understand them.

As a nonchalant passing comment it is mentioned in the Ramayana that Ayodhya’s soldiers were skilled in all kinds of weapons and military tactics, including sonic archery; and yet they did not practice it.

If left unscrutinized, this statement would also remain lost like countless other statements in the scripture. But within this statement lies a deep lesson on leadership.

Dasaratha, in his youth, went on hunting expeditions where he loved using the powerful method of sonic archery as often as possible. Sonic archery referred to the art of shooting arrows without seeing the object but rather relying on hearing the object’s movements. On one such hunting expedition, he was in fact looking for an opportunity to use this skill when he heard a sound, much like the rumbling of a tiger or like an elephant drinking water from a river. He shot an eager arrow in that direction.

Acting without seeing the reality is a sign of overconfidence.
Little did he realize that the sound was that of a pot being dunked into the river; an eager-to-serve son was filling water for his thirsty parents. The expert archer’s arrow hit its mark followed by a blood-curdling, agonizing scream! It was the dying boy’s cry of despair and misery. Almost simultaneously, reverberating through the forest was Dasaratha’s scream; a scream emanating from sheer guilt!

Dasaratha’s pain was probably more excruciating than the pain the arrow caused the boy. The pain of guilt is the toughest to deal with.
Before him was a young boy writhing in pain, an arrow pierced right through his chest. The boy implored Dasaratha, begging to know what could possibly have been his fault to have been fatally attacked this way.

The boy was the only child of his old, blind and invalid parents. His life was dedicated to serving them, and they lived a life of gratitude, dependent on their only son. Even as he was dying this very moment, further down the banks, the old couple was waiting with
parched throats for their son to bring them some water. As the boy began to inch closer to death, his pain became more excruciating at the thought of who would look after his parents after he was no more. No sooner than he told Dasaratha about his concern, he passed away.

A heavy-hearted Dasaratha carried water in that pot to the eagerly waiting ill-fated parents. He had to acknowledge the error in his judgment.

When the old couple heard the rustle of the footsteps of a stranger and not their son’s approach them, inexplicable fear gripped them. When Dasaratha told the couple of his dreadful mistake, their wounded hearts let out a curse: Dasaratha, too, would die of the pain of separation from his son. Dasaratha fell at their feet, begging for forgiveness. Alas, those were the old parents’ last words before they joined their son in his pyre.

One begs forgiveness for a mistake one commits. It is extremely important to think before making that mistake. Passion makes reasoning difficult. Dasaratha’s passion for hunting made him overconfident; before shooting the arrow, he did not use reason. Now that the consequences of his action were waiting for him, he resorted to reasoning. If we allow our passion to prevail over reasoning, we are in for a curse instead of a blessing.
A despondent Dasaratha returned to Ayodhya. He had learnt a very important lesson: Never to let passion prevail over reason. He vowed that day never to practice sonic archery, lest it bring upon him another painful curse. He banned the practice of sonic archery in Ayodhya.
                
To lament for one’s mistake is important, but far more important is to learn from that mistake. To make mistakes does not imply lack of intelligence but a lack of foresight. Not repeating mistakes is a sign of intelligence.
By admitting a mistake, a leader sends a message of tolerance and accountability that liberates people. It encourages them to take risks, it allows them to move from a defensive crouch to a proactive posture, and it helps them explore and realize their potential.


Exemplary leaders admit mistakes, learn from them, and move on.



DASARATHA’S  LEARNING FROM MISTAKES CHECKLIST

ü  Accepting responsibility makes learning possible.

ü  You can’t change mistakes, but you can choose how to respond to them.

ü  Growth starts when you can see room for improvement.

ü  Work to understand why it happened and what the factors were.

ü  What information could have avoided the mistake?

ü  Are there alternatives you should have considered but did not?

ü  What kinds of changes are required to avoid making this mistake again?

ü  How do you think your behavior should/would change in you were in a similar situation again?




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