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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

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.

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.

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.

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.

Fear of worshiping Krishna

Q. When I start worshiping Krishna, will I be treated as unchaste by my worshipable deity?

A. The Supreme Lord is the source of all that exists (BG. 10.8). He is described as sarva karana karanam (Bs 5.1). To maintain His creation, He has also created an entire system of demigods for its efficient governance, just as a cabinet of ministers is formed for the efficient governance of a country. The demigods in charge of a particular function know very well their position and their duty vis-à-vis their worshipable Lord.  Continue reading Fear of worshiping Krishna

Controlling the heart

Q. How to control heart?

A. Heart is the seat of mind and intelligence, within which the soul is embedded. Controlling the heart means controlling the mind from all unwanted desires. The only way to control the mind is by engaging it in the service of God, someway or the other.  And the easiest way to control the mind is by chanting the holy names —

Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare
Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare

Chanting with Motives

Q. I’ve been a BTG subscriber for the past three years. Even though I am not a full-time Krishna devotee, I manage to chant eight rounds a day. As I am still in my college years, I always get attracted by material comforts. I want to know if material comforts are obtainable through chanting. If they are, then is such chanting an act of sin? Will we get punished by doing so?

A. We shouldn’t chant Hare  Krishna to fulfill material desires. The goal of chanting Hare Krishna is pure love for Krishna, which is fully satisfying. The maha-mantra means “O Lord, O energy of the Lord, please engage me in Your service.” We’re supposed to chant Hare Krishna with the understanding that by awakening our Krishna consciousness, we’ll be completely happy. Besides, a devotee knows that Krishna will automatically take care of his material needs. We don’t need to ask Krishna for such things.

One of the offenses in chanting is to cherish our material attachments. Naturally in the beginning we will have attachments, but we should chant for purification, not for other things. Krishna can give us eternal life in His association. To chant with some other motive is like a foolish person’s asking a millionaire for a trinket.

Radharani and Tilak

Q. Why Radharani does not wear tilak? The question is on behalf of my friend. My explanation was that tilak comes from lake where gopis gave up their bodies and go back to join Krishna in Spiritual Dham. It is the dust of all gopies. But she does not seem to be satisfied with my answer. Can you help?

A. Traditionally Indian women wore bindis on their foreheads, not the Gaudiya Vaisnava tilaka that we see today. That’s why we see Radharani and other deities of gopis not having the regular tilaka. Modern women do not put anything on their forehead. That’s probably the reason why Prabhupada told ISKCON women to wear the regular tilaka in order to distinguish them from others.

Another reason: It’s Her personal choice.

Bhrigu Samhita’s relevance to devotees

Q. How perfect are Bhrigu-Samhita’s predictions? A lot of ISKCON followers consult Bhrigu. Can our current actions drastically change our destiny?

A. Bhrigu-samhita, being a part of the Vedic literature, is all-perfect. It deals with astrological science and the predictions made according these calculations are always accurate.

In his purport to Srimad-Bhagavatam (6.1.49), Srila Prabhupada writes,

“A human being must be educated to understand his past life and how he can endeavour for a better life in the future. There is even a book, called Bhrigu-Samhita which reveals information about one’s past, present and future lives according to astrological calculations. Somehow or other, one must be enlightened about his past, present and future.”

With proper reference to the context, this instruction is meant to make us aware of the importance of the human form of life so that we don’t take it cheaply. If astrological predictions can help us understand our future destiny, we may take corrective action so that we can “endeavour for a better life in the future,” which of course means a life that is more Krishna conscious.

Our current actions and also our thoughts, prepare our future destiny because they decide what we think at the time of death. “Whatever state of being one remembers when he quits his body, O son of Kunti, that state he will attain without fail,” Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita (8.6). If we think of Krishna at death, we go to His abode.

Overall, Prabhupada did not very much encourage his disciples to consult astrological charts and understand the future. As soon as one takes to Krishna consciousness, all his karma is destroyed, and the Lord takes full charge of the devotee. Whatever happens in his life either auspicious or inauspicious happens under the direct supervision of the Lord. The devotee therefore has nothing to worry about his future.