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Is Dattatraya God?

Whether Dattatraya is God and whether we can chant His name?

1. Whether any entity is to be accepted as God or His incarnation is not the matter of anyone’s personal opinion, faith or desire. But it is to be learnt from authorized sources i.e.
a) firstly from authorized scriptures, and
b) from message imparted by bonafide representatives of the Supreme Personality of Godhead in disciplic succession.

2. Srimad Bhagavatam (1.3.28) contains following verse regarding the source of all incarnations of the Lord.

ete camsa-kalah pumsah
krsnas tu bhagavan svayam
indrari-vyakulam lokam
mrdayanti yuge yuge

(All the above-mentioned incarnations are either plenary portions or portions of the plenary portions of the Lord, but Lord Shri Krishna is the original Personality of Godhead. All of them appear on planets whenever there is a disturbance created by the atheists. The Lord incarnates to protect the theists.)

Srila Prabhupada has specified in the purport of this verse that all the incarnations of the Lord, including the Lord Himself, descend on the different planets of the material world as also in different species of life, ‘To fulfill particular missions’.

Originally the Lord is full of
1) all opulences,
2) all prowess,
3) all fame,
4) all beauty,
5) all knowledge, and
6) all renunciation.

When they are partly manifested through the plenary portions or parts of the plenary portions, it should be noted that certain manifestations of His different powers are required for those particular functions.
Dattatraya, Matsya, Kumara and Kapila exhibited transcendental knowledge.

3. Srimad Bhagavatam (1.3.11) specifies about incarnation of Lord as Lord Dattatraya in following verse,

sastham atrer apatyatvam
vrtah prapto ’nasuyaya
anviksikim alarkaya
prahladadibhya ucivan

(The sixth incarnation of the purusa was the son of the sage Atri. He was born from the womb of Anasuya, who prayed for an incarnation. He spoke on the subject of transcendence to Alarka, Prahlada and others (Yadu, Haihaya etc)).

Srila Prabhupada mentions in the purport that the Lord incarnated Himself as Dattatraya, the son of Rsi Atri and Anasuya. The history of the birth of Dattatraya as an incarnation of the Lord is mentioned in the Brahmanda Purana in connection with story of a devoted wife. It is said there that Anasuya, the wife of Rsi Atri prayed before the lords Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva as follows: “My lords, if you are pleased with me, and if you desire me to ask from you some sort of blessings, then I pray that you combine together to become my son.” This was accepted by the lords, and as Dattatraya, the Lord expounded the philosophy of the spirit soul and especially instructed Alarka, Prahlada, Yadu, Haihaya, etc.

4. Accordingly these above mentioned references show that Lord Dattatraya is an incarnation of the Lord and as He is a partial expansion of the Supreme Lord Vishnu, His Holy Name can be chanted as well in order to get His causeless mercy and to learn transcendental knowledge under His guidance. However in this age of Kali, the chanting of Hare Krishna Mahamantra is recommended which includes prayers to all other incarnations.

Hare Krishna Mahamantra

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna
Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama
Rama Rama Hare Hare

Deity Worship in Bhagavad-gita

Please explain me if deity worship is authorized in Bhagavad-gita?

This question is to be considered by referring to certain concepts.  

Generally people do not accept anything unless they are given proof of the facts upon which they have to base their consideration. Of course it is a common sense that everyone wants to examine the facts and only when he is convinced about their authenticity he may accept them.
But when people demand proof they have their own concept of proof and evidence in their mind as per their logic. Most of the people demand proof in writing or many of them rely upon words of superiors and so on.

It is to be understood that the method of proving many things is not by direct reference but by our proper understanding of the concept of particular topic. For example, every liquid contains base of water. But do we find on any bottle of liquid, words or caption that ‘this liquid contains water base’. Of course not always. Then how can we understand this?
If one has properly studied chemistry he would undoubtedly accept this contention and would never demand any written caption on bottle of liquid as stated above.
Similarly people study Bhagavad-gita, but they don’t know how to take words of Krishna in appropriate manner. Because they may not study Bhagavad-gita under direction of spiritual master.

Lord Krishna states in Bhagavad-gita (9.34) ‘Always think of Me, become My devotee, pay obeisances to Me, and surely you will come to me.’

Now when one desires to remember Lord Krishna, how can one know how Krishna looks like? How can one know how to pay obeisances to Krishna?

Now these things are not possible unless one is given an opportunity to know how Krishna looks like and what is the process of paying obeisances to Krishna. For example when we have never seen our forefathers, how can we know about how they looked like? Of course when we see their photo or image. And accordingly we can know about their personality and we can bow before them to pay them honor.

Similarly, as Lord is sat-cit-anand and His body is completely transcendental, it is not possible for us to know and see Him by our imperfect senses.

Therefore, in order to give us a facility to see Him Lord Himself has instructed in Srimad-Bhagavatam that He can be perceived in His icon or image form (shaili darumayi……).
This is the concept of Deity worship. So even though the actual reference of Deity worship is found in Srimad-Bhagavatam, it’s original concept is found in Bhagavad-gita (9.34).
Only what is required is a proper understanding of the verse under guidance of a spiritual master who is the representative of Krishna.

The purpose, need and scientific aspect of Deity worship can be explained by following example;

Why do we need a clock? What is scientific aspect of a telephone or television?

The answer is that all these things enable us to develop contact with those objects which are out of reach of our senses.

We need a clock because clock gives us an opportunity to understand what is the time (time factor) irrespective whether it is a watch clock or digital clock or any old-styled clock. Unless we use clock we have no chance to understand and develop connection with the time factor.

Similarly television and telephone enable us to develop contact with those objects and personalities which are beyond our jurisdiction.

Same is the concept of Deity worship. When Deity of Krishna is installed,  Krishna gives us an opportunity to reciprocate with Him through His Deity. Accordingly, we can systematically revive and develop our lost connection or relation with Him and pay obeisances to Him.

As such Krishna shows His mercy upon us by allowing us to see Him through His Deity form. This is the scientific aspect of Deity worship and its root is found in Bhagavad-gita (9.34) as already stated above.

Is Radharani also eternal consort

In almost all avatars it is seen that Lakshmi is the consort of the Lord. For ex: Whether be it mother Sita or Visnupriya or Padmavati (Lord Venkateswara’s consort). And not Radharani, why is it that way?

As Krishna is the original personality of Godhead, so Srimati Radharani is His hladini sakti manifestation, or His eternal consort. Since Narayana in Vaikuntha is an expansion of Krishna, similarly Lakshmi is also an expansion of Srimati Radharani. For that matter, all the goddesses of fortune in the spiritual realm are manifestations of Srimati Radharani. Having made the above statements, we can identify the particular consort of the Supreme Lord by a particular nomenclature also. For example, Sita is the consort of Lord Ram. Ramadevi (found in Sri Brahma Samhita) is the consort of Maha Vishnu. Each of the expansions of the Supreme Lord have their consorts, or energetic expansions. They go by various names, but the original Personality of Godhead is Krishna, and His eternal consort is Srimati Radharani.

Lord Krishna did not marry Radharani

Why did Lord Krishna not marry Radharani when Her deity is always next to Krishna and we worship Krishna and Radha? Krishna loved Srimati Radharani, but married someone else. Why?

The relationship between Radha and Krishna in Their Vrindavan-lila is of a very special type known as “parakiya rasa” or unwedded love. Even from our mundane experience we know that such a relationship can be of greater intensity than within marriage. Yet these ‘affairs’ are grossly perverted reflections of the love found in the spiritual world; worldly paramourship is morally reprehensible, but the spiritual counterpart is of the highest level of spiritual joy as well as purity.
In Vrindavana, yoga-maya (the Lord’s personal internal potency) orchestrates events just to enhance this ‘parakiya-bhava’, which serves to increase the intensity of the loving pastimes between Radha and Krishna. For example, there is a very sweet pastime described by our acaryas wherein Radha and Krishna were actually to be betrothed, but Paurnamasi (who is Yogamaya herself) foils the plan on the pretext of so-called inauspicious planetary influences, just so that the parakiya relationship is preserved.

In short, the lila of Radha and Krishna is that of an unwed couple, lover and beloved, but the spiritual reality is that they are eternally with one another as the Lord and His internal potency, or His ‘consort’. Their unmarried love enhances the sweetness of their exchanges, and is altogether wholesome and pure.

Rukmini devi is an expansion of Radharani. She also belongs to the internal potency of Krishna, just like Radha, only the lila is that they marry.

Radha and Krishna’s loving relationship can be (and has been) misused by unscrupulous people to manipulate religious principles. But Radha-Krishna relationship should not be confused with that of a mundane relationship.

The material world is 180 degrees the opposite of the spiritual world. When looking upon the lake’s surface where a tree is growing on the far bank of the lake, what do you see? You see a reflection! And what is the upper portion of the tree which you see in the reflection? Since the reflected image is upside down, you will see the roots growing up, and the branches growing down!

In the ‘spiritual tree of life’, everything is actually meant for the satisfaction of the Supreme Lord, but when misused for our sense gratification, it becomes reflected, upside-down and perverted. Thus we see even lust, greed, anger — all abominable qualities — have their untainted spiritual counterpart in ‘the spiritual tree, in the spiritual realm, the realm of Krishna’s pastimes.

And, If you go to Bhandiravana one of the 12 forests in Vrajamandal, you will come to know that when Radha and Krishna were very small, they had come with Nanda Maharaja to Bhandiravana. And suddenly clouds came there and it was about to rain and at that time Nanda Maharaja made both of them sit under a Banyan tree holding each other hands and gone for his work. At that time both of them became young and Brahmaji came and performed their formal marriage.

Radharani is Krishna’s own internal pleasure potency. Thus there is no question of immorality in their relationship. Krishna, being self-satisfied, does not depend on an external source for happiness, but manifests His own potency when He wants to enjoy; this manifestation is Radharani. We worship Radha with Krishna, because She is the dearest devotee of Krishna, and by pleasing Her we can also become dear to Him.

Approaching Spiritual Master

Why one is unable to approach a genuine Sadhu or a spiritual master even after he has spent time most of his life in false attempt of enjoying this material world?

It is said that the living entities are wandering in the universe, in different species of life and out of those only a fortunate soul can receive the seed of devotion (bhakti) by the grace of Krishna and Guru. Especially in this age of Kali, where people in general are unfortunate and easily misguided, and where pure representatives of the Lord are so few, it is very rare to come in contact with a genuine spiritual master. It requires a sincere desire and genuine endeavor on our part to find a bona fide guru, and along with our endeavor it also requires the mercy of the Lord.

Surrendering to spiritual master

What sort of heart and qualification required to completely surrender to a spiritual master?

Krishna describes in Bhagavad Gita how one should approach a realized spiritual master (Bg 4.34). He indicates three components: submission, inquiry and service. One should approach the spiritual master with all humility, hear from him submissively and inquire from him to get a clear understanding about the spiritual science. Inquiring alone is not sufficient, but one must also render service to the spiritual master according to what one has heard and try to please him. One should be prepared to render menial service to the spiritual master and follow his instructions.

If one is very sincere to know Krishna, He will send His mercy in the form of a representative, to provide exactly the kind of spiritual upliftment the soul requires.

Transcendental Knowledge

Q. Is the Srimad Bhagavatam written by Srila Vyasadeva only for this Kali-yuga ? Or will it be written again in the next cycle of the four yugas, as the four cycles repeat?

A. The message of Srimad Bhagavatam and Srimad Bhagavad Gita is eternal.
For example Srimad Bhagavatam has references to events in Satya, Treta, Dvapara and Kali yugas . Srila Vyasadeva compiled the scriptures at the beginning of this Kali yuga and wrote them down because the people of Kali yuga have very poor memory and cannot retain the knowledge just by hearing, which was the process in the previous ages.

In the Bhagavad-Gita also Krishna explains to Arjun that the knowledge He is about to give is eternal. Only when the chain of knowledge breaks does Krishna descends to reestablish the principles once again.

The message in all the scriptures is to know God and to love God. The validity of this message is there in all the ages. The spiritual master and other authorized devotees may speak the same message after taking into consideration the desha, kaala and patra (time, place and circumstance).

It shall be again written in next Kali-yuga, since at the beginning of next cycle there shall be need of re-establishing the principles of religion as Lord Krishna does in every millennium.

Rama or Ram!

Q. In the mahamantra can you please explain to me why do people pronounce Rama instead of Ram?

A. Usually people do not pronounce it deliberately. Sometimes when they are intensely chanting then they may be chanting Rama in stead of Ram. However Lord is pleased by the endeavor of His devotees. It is said that chanting should be like a crying of a child for its mother.
Yes, when they are performing kirtan, it is many times pronounced as Rama. However if someone is doing it for the pleasure of the Lord then it is alright. If someone is pronouncing it to make a show then Lord is not at all pleased with that.

Chanting while driving

Q. I have to go to office on bike. It takes two hours. So can we chant on bike by counting on hands or beads?

A. It would be completely unsafe both materially and spiritually, especially if you are chanting your prescribed number of rounds while riding on the bike. The principle is kirtaniya sada hari – to always chant the names of Hari. But it is advisable not to chant on the bike considering the condition of roads and the traffic.

Technique to chant progressively

Q. Is it necessary to chant a minimum of 16 rounds to please Lord Krishna or he gets pleased even if we chant less than 16 rounds as I am finding it very difficult to chant 16 rounds.

A. In the beginning one finds it difficult to chant more than a couple of rounds daily. However you can set a quota of chanting a certain number of rounds daily, even if only one or two. Once having set that quota, please try never to go below it.

The Krishna consciousness movement prescribes sixteen rounds daily because people in this age cannot concentrate for long periods while chanting on beads. Therefore the minimum number of rounds is prescribed, but in the highest stages pure devotees chant the holy names constantly, day and night, in the profound ecstasy of love of God and they never find it difficult.