Going back to Godhead

Q. It is said that we have fallen down to this material world as we rebelled against God. But, it is also mentioned that with proper chanting and service, one can go back to Godhead where there is no birth, death, old age, disease. My question is, “Is there no chance to fall down, again”? If one goes to heavenly planets, one will fall down once his account becomes empty? Please clarify of falling down from heavenly planets and Goloka Vrindavan? Haribol.

A.
One goes to the heavenly planets on the strength of one’s pious credits, which are used up during the stay in the heavenly planets. So when the pious credits are exhausted one falls down again into the Martya-loka.

On the other hand, by the practice of devotional service we can go to the spiritual world from where, Krishna Himself assures in the Bhagavad-Gita that there is no return to the material world.

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Actions and reactions

Q. What is karma?

A. All the activities that we do constitute karma.

The Bhagavad Gita defines three types of karmavikarma, karma and akarma.

Vikarma is those activities that the scriptures ask not to be done and karma is those activities that scriptures prescribe. In both cases we get the reaction to our sinful or pious activities for which we have to be born in this material world again and again to suffer or enjoy. So in the ultimate sense both activities are bad because they do not help in getting liberated from the cycle of birth and death.

Akarma is those activities that are done only with the purpose of pleasing Krishna or in other words devotional service to Krishna which does not entail any karmic reaction and so helps us attain an eternal life of service to Krishna in bliss.

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Yoga, exercise

Q. I want to know about yoga effects in the body?  How is it useful from other body training means of exercise?

A. The ashtanga yoga system is designed in such a way that at the end, an aspirant can see and worship the Paramatma in the heart.  The aim is thus God realization and not to have a healthy and strong body so that we can have better sense gratification.  If done properly we do get the benefits of a good and healthy body and mind, good concentration and proper sense control which help in the final aim of God realization.

Regarding other forms of exercise, Srila Prabhupada recommended brisk walking.

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Work stress, control over mind

Q. How to control mind from work stress?

A. The only way to do that long term is to work for Krishna’s pleasure and not for our own. We can learn to do all our activities in such a consciousness that we would like to please Krishna. We must learn to find the balance in our lives where we can carry out our material and our spiritual responsibilities. A dangerous tilt on any side can spoil both aspects of our life.

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Burning the Bad Karma

Q. Many people have the idea that bad karma can be reduced or removed through meditation, worship, samskara or sacrifice. How can we really burn all our bad karma?

A. The Vedic scriptures describe that devotional service to the Lord destroys the results of previous sins, in other words, bad karma. The effectiveness of the process depends on its purity. For example, pure chanting of the holy names of the Lord destroys all sinful reactions. But the chanting is usually not pure in the beginning. When one begins the practice of devotional service, it is said to be like unplugging a fan. The fan will still turn for some time. So in the stage of devotional practice, the reactions will continue  but as we become more and more purified by devotional service, eventually we become free of all reactions and enjoy the bliss of full spiritual life. And even in the stage of practice, Lord Krishna adjusts the karma so that His aspiring devotees get just what they need to progress steadily toward Him.
Continue reading Burning the Bad Karma

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Free Will

Q. If Krishna is all powerful and wants us to come back to Him, then why does He not simply do it?

A. The answer to your question, which you have asked is a very fundamental one, rests on the understanding of the living entity’s free will.

Because there is free will, the living entity can choose to misuse his/her free will.
When this choice of misuse of free will is exercised by the living entity, the Lord may sanction it. But the punishment is also there along with the sanctioning, so that the living entity learns the lesson that misuse of free will, will not bring happiness. If you look on the other side of the question, ‘Why is it that God does not restrict our free will so that we cannot misuse it?’, then you have a situation where love is also not voluntary but forced.

That is not love, that is something else. For there to be real love for God, there must also be the opportunity for free will, including the misuse of free will.

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Taking things positively

Q : I too believe that GOD exists. But very recently I have been experiencing very bad moments, whatever I think it doesn’t happen, whatever I touch it gets postponed, wherever my name is involved the work some how mysteriously gets cancelled. So I started checking my numerology and astrology online, people tell me that our present life karma is based on past life deeds. Is it true?. Is our fate is already written by Brahma, are we just puppets in God’s hands. I checked my last life jyotisha in some astrology website it says that in my past life I was a big cheater and also based on my name numerology I carry my past life karmic debts to this life.
I don’t understand why should I be responsible for my past life which I have no clue about, why can’t God punish people in the same life itself for their misdeeds and give everyone a fresh new life. My main question is can’t we change our fate written by Brahma.

A. One’s karma is based on one’s deeds, not only of one past life, but of many many past lives.
Everything is calculated very precisely.

The nature of this material world is such that there are always some reversals and challenges to face.

It depends upon us as to how to take it, positively or negatively.

Everyone has a baggage of good and bad deeds. And we have to nullify it, positive for the positive and negative for the negative.

If something good happens, one must know that one is exhausting one’s good deeds. Similarly, when bad things are happening, we must know that bad deeds are getting nullified. So one has to suffer less in the future.

If one remains steady in both happiness and distress, then one can transcend the dualities of this material world.

We cannot change the circumstances, but we can certainly change the way we perceive it.

Real positivity means to turn any difficult situation into an opportunity.

We may not remember our previous bad deeds and the sufficient punishment is not given in the previous life.
Because we may not have sufficient karma to suffer.
Therefore, karma is very inconceivable and difficult to understand.

The message of Bhagavad Gita explains how to not get affected by the karma.
It is possible to change the karma and the destiny.

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Faith in demigods

Q. What do I do with my faith in particular demigod built up for so many years?

A. Someone may have worshiped a particular demigod with faith for many years. Now having come to proper understanding based on knowledge from scriptures and guidance from bona fide acharyas, he has decided to become a devotee of Lord Krishna. For most of such people, such a transition is very painful. Their heart is given to someone and now their intelligence wants them to worship someone else.

To keep matters simple and pain free, one could still maintain a relationship with the particular demigod although now it may be in a different light. Before, he would worship the demigod thinking him to be the supreme. Now, he may continue worshipping the demigod since he has affection for him, yet based on his knowledge of the demigod’s true position, now he sees him as an empowered representative of the Supreme Lord. Now, his respect for him is based on truth rather than on sentiments, which sometimes may be based on illusory perceptions of the demigod’s grandeur. Thus, the affectionate relationship with the demigod may continue and simultaneously, the worshiper endeavors to advance in his relationship with the supreme Lord, who is his eternal, well-wishing father.

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Disrespecting Demigods

Q. Anyway demigods are not supreme. Do we disrespect them?

A. A person in true knowledge does not disrespect anyone. Demigods are exalted personalities, empowered by the Supreme Lord Himself to carry out certain administrative functions for universal management. Seeing their loyalty and sincerity, they have been specifically appointed in their positions.

We may have respect for everyone but our heart may be reserved for the object of our love— Lord Krishna. Further, our love for the supreme Lord will be judged by our respect for His will and His decisions in appointing certain personalities in certain positions.
Thus, a true devotee of Lord Krishna based on his love for his Lord and knowledge of the positions of demigods does not disrespect demigods in any manner.

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