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The Three Principles of Sanatana Dharma: Yajña, Dāna, and Tapa

Sanatana Dharma is like a road map. It provides the basic rules by which human society must function to remain happy and in harmony. But what is Sanatana Dharma? Providing rules is its function, but not its definition. So, what is the definition?

Sanatana Dharma is defined as the eternal occupation of all living entities. It is an intrinsic quality that can never be taken away from them. This implies that every human must engage in an activity, without which they can never become truly happy and satisfied. That essential activity is devotion to the Lord. Without devotion, no one can achieve happiness, regardless of their efforts.

But then, what is devotion? Is it merely a sentiment for the Lord, or a set of religious practices? Devotion is based on three fundamental principles: yajña (sacrifice), dāna (charity), and tapa (austerity). One may belong to any theistic religion, but these principles will remain the same. Let’s begin to explore them.

Yajña: Selfless Action

Yajña means selfless action, not necessarily a fire sacrifice. It involves giving up one’s selfishness, attachment to personal ideas, and self-satisfaction, and working for the satisfaction of Viṣṇu, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

Yajña is the way to express one’s gratitude to the Lord, who is the source and maintainer of everything. People write gratitude journals, that can also be a type of yajna. But simply writing journals, and not expressing gratitude is incomplete. One must serve God as an expression of that gratitude and then all is perfect.

Service to God can be done by practical actions of chanting the holy names of Lord, reading the scriptures, serving the saints, and spreading the message of Lord.

Dāna: Charity

Dāna means charity, which is the voluntary act of giving away one’s material possessions for a noble cause. But to whom should we give?

Many believe that NGOs are mostly corrupt, with money given in charity often being misused and directed towards the wrong causes. Anything offered for free is sometimes considered to be useless, or even harmful, with a sinister intention behind it.

According to the Mahabharata, the best way to perform charity in this age of hypocrisy is to give to the Lord and His devotees.

Dāna can take various forms, such as building temples, supporting preaching activities, and distributing books. It is a sign of generosity and compassion, qualities of a noble person.

The debate about giving charity directly to the poor and suffering is complex. Some argue that poverty and suffering are choices, not mere chance. This perspective suggests that villagers migrate to big cities primarily due to desires, using financial crisis as an excuse, and then face poverty. Sufferings are seen as the result of our own negative psychological intentions and emotions, which manifest as diseases in the body and mind. The principle of ‘like attracts like’ implies that evil attracts evil, and suffering is considered an evil.

Therefore, helping the poor and suffering is viewed not as charity, but as a temporary solution to their problems. True charity, according to this viewpoint, is to connect them with God, which will eliminate their desires and, consequently, their poverty. It will also dissolve their negativity, al along with their sufferings.

Dāna is a way to free oneself from the bondage of greed and attachment, the root causes of suffering. It also helps to purify one’s wealth, which may be tainted by sin, even if earned honestly. Above all, Dāna pleases the Lord, who is the true owner and enjoyer of everything.

Tapa: Austerity

Tapa means austerity, the voluntary acceptance of bodily and mental pains to achieve a higher purpose in life. It is a method to discipline and control one’s senses, mind, and intelligence, which are often disturbed by lust, anger, and illusion. This discipline helps to purify one’s consciousness, which is obscured by ignorance and false ego.

Tapa attracts the mercy and grace of the Lord, the source of all knowledge and bliss, because it is a sign of determination and sincerity.

Tapa can be practiced by adhering to the rules and regulations of spiritual life, observing fasts and vows, living a simple and humble life, and tolerating difficulties and risks in serving the Lord. Enduring challenges in spreading the message of Bhagavān (preaching) is tapa. It requires energy and enthusiasm to help people understand the science of devotion (bhakti).

Conclusion

Yajña, dāna, and tapa are the three principles of devotion or, in other words, Sanatana Dharma which support and sustain the spiritual welfare of the individual and the society. Not only spiritual welfare but even the material welfare of people can be taken care of by Sanatan Dharma, since when the Lord is pleased everything will be perfectly taken care of by the Lord.

Thus by performing these three principles, one can achieve success in both worlds, and finally the ultimate goal of life, the love of God. This is the way to be safe and happy in this world and the next.

Who is the Real God? Debunking the Myths of Sanātana Dharma

Some people are confused about the concept of God in sanātana dharma, or the eternal way of life. They think that there are many Gods, such as Kṛṣṇa, Śiva, Durgā, Brahma, and others. This confusion has made some of the modern youth turn away from spirituality. However, according to the Vedic tradition, there is only one supreme God, and He is Kṛṣṇa. The other deities are demigods, who are subordinate to Him. They are not Bhagavān, the supreme controller.

The confusion arises from the misinterpretation of the Vedas and the Purāṇas, the ancient scriptures of sanātana dharma. The Vedas clearly state that only Viṣṇu and Kṛṣṇa are Bhagavān, and they are the same person. The Purāṇas also use the word Bhagavān in a broad sense, depending on the context. For example, Śiva is called Bhagavān, īśvara, and maheśvara because he is the controller of this universe. Viṣṇu and Kṛṣṇa are called Bhagavān because they control both the material and the spiritualworlds. Brahma controls only the fourteen planetary systems. Brahma, Śiva, and Kṛṣṇa are all īśvaras, or controllers, but there is a difference. Brahma is called īśvara, Śiva is called maheśvara, and Kṛṣṇa is called parameśvara. Kṛṣṇa is the supreme controller of all other controllers.

There is no contradiction in the Purāṇas. They use the word Bhagavān in a literal sense, meaning the supreme controller. One can be supreme at various levels, so the word Bhagavān can refer to different deities in different situations. However, the Vedas accept only one God, who is the source of everything.

Om tad visnoh paramam padam sada pasyanti surayah (Rg Veda 1.22.20).

The Kṛṣṇa Upaniṣad, a part of the Ṛg Veda, clearly states that Kṛṣṇa is Bhagavān:

om kṛṣṇo vai sacit-ananda kṛṣṇa aˉdi-puruṣam ̇kṛṣṇaḥ puruṣottamah

Kṛṣṇa is the eternal, blissful, and conscious person, the original and the best of all persons.

The Gopāla-tāpanī Upaniṣad, the Kaṭha Upaniṣad, and the Chāndogya Upaniṣad also state that Kṛṣṇa is Bhagavān.

In the Bhagavad-gītā, (7.7) Kṛṣṇa says that there is nothing to be known beyond Him

mattaḥ parataraṁ nānyat
kiñcid asti dhanañ-jaya
mayi sarvam idaṁ protaṁ
sūtre maṇi-gaṇā iva

Brahma states that Kṛṣṇa is the original Nārāyaṇa in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam:10.14.14

nārāyaṇas tvaṁ na hi sarva-dehinām
ātmāsy adhīśākhila-loka-sākṣī
nārāyaṇo ’ṅgaṁ nara-bhū-jalāyanāt
tac cāpi satyaṁ na tavaiva māyā

There is no confusion in sanātana dharma about who Bhagavān is. It is the ignorant people who spread wrong information. Everywhere in the Vedas, the Purāṇas, and the Itihāsas, Lord Hari is glorified:

vede rāmāyaṇe caiva purāṇe bhārate tathā ādāv ante ca madhye ca hariḥ sarvatra gīyate.

However, it is not enough to know that Kṛṣṇa is Bhagavān. One should also know His qualities, desires, and activities to understand Him. Knowing Bhagavān’s desires is very important. More than that, it is more important to understand what He desires from us. Only then can one follow one’s dharma properly. Otherwise, one follows what one’s mind dictates (manodharma).

Conclusion

In conclusion, sanātana dharma teaches that there is only one supreme God, who is Kṛṣṇa. He is the source and the controller of everything. The other deities are demigods, who serve Him and have limited powers. The Vedas and the Purāṇas use the word Bhagavān in different ways, depending on the context. However, they all agree that Kṛṣṇa is the ultimate Bhagavān, who is worshiped by all the demigods. To understand Him, one should not only know His identity, but also His qualities, desires, and activities. One should also follow His instructions and do what He wants from us. This is the essence of sanātana dharma, the eternal way of life.

Initiation : Contract Between God and Devotees

An initiation contract is an agreement between Bhagavān (God) and us (devotees) based on mutual cooperation and faith. The contract is inspired by this verse from the Bhagavad Gītā:18.66

sarva-dharmān parityajya
mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja
ahaṁ tvāṁ sarva-pāpebhyo
mokṣayiṣyāmi mā śucaḥ

We sign under the line that says

sarva-dharmān parityajya mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja,

which means “abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me”, and

Kṛṣṇa signs under the line that says

ahaṁ tvāṁ sarva-pāpebhyo mokṣayiṣyāmi mā śucaḥ,

which means “I shall deliver you from all sinful reactions”.

As long as we follow the instructions of Bhagavān, Bhagavān protects us; otherwise, we violate the contract. Kṛṣṇa appreciates those who honor the terms of the contract. In this contract, our paraṁpara (disciplic succession) acts as a mediator or facilitator and helps us establish and execute the contract without breaking it. Bhaktidevī Śrīmatī Rādhārānī is the witness andvalidates the contract. Bhagavān does His part, and we have to do ours.

Our and Bhagavān’s Responsibilities in the Contract

Our Duties

-Following the instructions of Bhagavān.

-Controlling our senses.

-Finding a practical way to follow the rules and control the senses. Praying for Bhagavān’s mercy alone is not enough. We should constantly strive to follow the rules and control our senses.

-Preaching is also our duty. Bhagavān will not come again to preach.

Bhagavān’s Duties

-Bhagavān gives us taste or rasa in bhakti (devotion). We cannot develop taste in bhakti by ourselves. Giving taste in bhakti is Bhagavān’s duty. Bhagavān will not give us the taste if we do not follow the contract terms.

-Bhagavān gives guidance from within the heart. This duty is not exclusive because the paraṁpara also guides us.

-Bhagavān gives realizations.

-Bhagavān gives vivek (discrimination power).

-Bhagavān reveals our svarūpa (spiritual)

Other duties, such as sādhu-saṅga (association of saintly persons), protection from māyā(illusion), etc., are shared duties of Bhagavān and us.

What Happens if We Don’t Cooperate with Bhagavān Without Breaking the Contract?

-Not following the instructions of Bhagavān is a clear sign of non-cooperation and breach of contract.

-Not trying to progress continuously means non-cooperation. One will decline if the efforts are the same every day, let alone if one does not make any effort. Liberation is not a trivial matter.

-Cheating, i.e., doing bhakti with some selfish motive, means non-cooperation with Bhagavān.

-Not trying to uplift oneself also counts as non-cooperation with Bhagavān. One cannot remain idle and depressed if one falls down. One should keep moving on the path of bhakti.

-Always praying for mercy but doing nothing to advance in bhakti means non-cooperation.

Result of Not Cooperating with Bhagavān.

-Bhagavān will be upset or annoyed and may temporarily abandon or reject us in His mind so that the contract is not broken, thinking that these jīvātmās (living entities) are hopeless. Bhagavān never breaks the contract, but we do.

-Our willpower (saṅkalpa śakti) becomes weak. It becomes difficult to uplift oneself.

-One falls down and offends Vaiṣṇavas (devotees of Kṛṣṇa). One stops associating with Vaiṣṇavas, the worst thing that can happen to anyone.

Bhagavān is more responsible than us. He does His duties with more force than us. He is more eager to complete the contract than us. We should do our best and leave the rest to Kṛṣṇa.

Conclusion

The initiation contract is a sacred agreement between Bhagavān and us, based on mutual surrender and faith. Our duties in the contract are to follow the instructions of Bhagavān, control our senses, find a practical way to do so, and preach His message. Bhagavān’s duties are to give us taste, guidance, realizations, discrimination power, and revelation of our spiritual identity. Some duties, such as association and protection, are shared by both parties. If we do not cooperate with Bhagavān, we risk breaking the contract and losing His mercy. We may also weaken our willpower, fall down, and offend Vaiṣṇavas. Therefore, we should do our best and leave the rest to Kṛṣṇa, who is more eager and responsible than us to complete the contract. By doing so, we can attain the ultimate goal of life: pure love of God.

Oṁ tat sat: A Sūtra from the Upaniṣads

Oṁ tat sat is a sūtra, or a concise statement of truth, in the Upaniṣads, which are ancient Hindu scriptures. One chants Oṁ tat sat to remember Bhagavān, the Supreme Lord, before starting any auspicious activity, and upon its completion to offer the results to Bhagavān.

The Meaning of Oṁ

Oṁ means otaṁ protam iti oṁ, which means “He who is pervading and protecting is Oṁ”. Oṁ is Bhagavān’s official name, because He is otam protam or sarva-vyāpi (omnipresent). He is present everywhere, inside, outside, and in all directions. He is also sarvajña (omniscient). Because He is sarvajña and sarva-vyāpi, He is sarva-śaktimān (omnipotent), because He is all great,therefore He is addressed as Oṁ.

When one chants Oṁ, he remembers Bhagavān’s three qualities: sarva-vyāpi, sarvajña, and sarva-śaktimān. All mantras in Vedas and Upaniṣads begin and end with Oṁ.

Puruṣa-sūkta in Ṛg Veda starts with Oṁ -Oṁ sahasraśīrṣā puruṣaḥ and ends with Oṁ. Viṣṇu Sahasra-nāma starts with Oṁ –oṁ viśvaṁ viṣṇuḥ vaṣaṭkāro and ends with Oṁ. However, Gaudiya devotees are not interested in Oṁ much. They are interested in Bhagavān’s beauty and all attractiveness. Therefore, they address Bhagavān as Kṛṣṇa. We don’t love Kṛṣṇa because He is great,we love Him because He is Kṛṣṇa.

Dhyānīs and jñānīs address and meditate on Bhagavān as Oṁ. By addressing Him as great, they create a barrier or distance between themselves and Him. We don’t want to have any gap between Bhagavān and us. Therefore, we are not interested in Oṁ.

The Role of Oṁ in Hindu Rituals

Śāstras, or scriptures, recommend chanting oṁ before reading Vedas and performing yajña and pūja, which are rituals of sacrifice and worship. In Sanātana dharma, or the eternal way of life, there is no activity without chanting Oṁ. If one is on the path of pūja, dhyāna and jñāna, which are the paths of meditation and knowledge, one should chant Oṁ. But if one is on the path of prem, which is the path of love, he need not chant Oṁ .

Another Meaning of Oṁ

According to Matsya Purāṇa and Agni Purāṇa, which are ancient Hindu texts, the sound Oṁ consists of three letters: auṁ. Akārena iti Kṛṣṇa; ‘a’ means Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa says in Bhagavad Gītā, that of all letters, He is the letter ‘a’. Jīva Gosvāmī says that the way no vowel or consonant can be pronounced without ‘a’, nothing exists without Kṛṣṇa, i.e., Kṛṣṇa is the basis of everything. Without Kṛṣṇa, earth, water, air, moon, sun, etc., cannot exist.

Another meaning of Oṁ or auṁ is akārena ucyate Kṛṣṇa. Ukārena ucyate Rādhā; ‘u’ means ūrjaor śakti (energy). Kṛṣṇa’s śakti is Rādhā. Makārena iti jīva; ‘ṁ’ means jīvātmā. Therefore, auṁ means Rādhā, Kṛṣṇa, and Their devotees.

Devotees also chant the Gāyatrī mantra before worshiping the Deities in the temple. It is not required to chant the Gāyatrī mantra to worship the Deities as the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra in itself is complete, but it is recommended in Deity worship and yajñas. Oṁ is also chanted during dīkṣā and marriage ceremonies. Devotees think about Rādhā, Kṛṣṇa, and Their devotees and ask Bhagavān to allow us to serve and give prem.

The Meaning of Tat

Tat means that or him; etat means this. Whatever one does, beginning with chanting Oṁ, one should offer the results to tat (Him). So by chanting Oṁ tat, one should think that he is working for Bhagavān and offer the fruits of his work to Him. One should not forget who he is working for and why he is working. Otherwise, one will think of something else and get entangled in reactions. Oṁtat helps us to remember this.

The Meaning of Sat

We desire sat (kriyante mokṣa-kāṅkṣibhiḥ). Sat means sad-bhāve sādhu-bhāve ca sad ity etat prayujyate. We want sat-bhāvana (good thoughts) and feelings of prem for Bhagavān (sādhu-bhāve). For this, we want to be in contact with Bhagavān, serve Him, and offer results to Him. Oṁ refers to sambandha, tat refers to abhidheya, sat refers to prayojana.

So whenever we start any activity, we chant Oṁ tat sat to remember that that activity is being done for Bhagavān and to offer results to Him and for attaining prem and sad-bhāvana.

We don’t have to chant oṁ tat sat but should understand the underlying concept. If we know this, there is no need to chant oṁ tat sat.

Because devotees dedicate their lives to Bhagavān and live and die for Bhagavān to attain prem, they don’t have to chant oṁ tat sat but should understand the underlying concept.Devotees don’t say oṁ tat sat but live oṁ tat sat.

Why Do Devotees Repeatedly Fall?

Bhakti is the path of devotion to God, and it requires mercy, sincerity and discipline. However, sometimes devotees may fall down from their spiritual standards and commit mistakes. This can happen even to sannyāsīs, who are renounced monks dedicated to God. Why does this happen, and how can it be avoided? In this article, we will explore the meaning, causes and solutions of falling down in bhakti.

What does “fall down” mean?

Falling down means losing one’s spiritual strength and purity, and deviating from the principles and practices of bhakti. It can manifest in different ways, such as breaking the regulative principles, neglecting the chanting of the holy names, losing faith in the scriptures and the guru, becoming attached to material pleasures, or developing pride and envy. Falling down can have serious consequences for one’s spiritual progress and happiness.

Reasons for fall downs and practical solutions in general

There are different reasons why devotees may fall down, and they can be classified into four categories, according to the difficulty of identifying and rectifying them. For each category, we will also suggest some practical solutions to prevent and overcome falling down.

Obvious reasons, which you and others can see

Some reasons for falling down are very clear and visible, both to oneself and to others. Breaking regulative principles, eating outside food, offering outside food to Bhagavān, and free-mixing of male and female devotees fall into this category. These obvious don’ts are becoming increasingly un obvious now, due to the influence of the modern society and culture.

Solution: One can check these visible reasons for falling down by exercising the will power to follow the rules and regulations. One should also avoid bad association and seek good association of devotees who are strict and sincere in their bhakti.

Reasons that can be found with some difficulty

Some reasons for falling down are not so obvious, and they require some introspection and analysis to find out. The causes that can be found through the eyes of philosophy fall in this category. Chanting with an improper attitude, not hearing or reading about Bhagavān’s form, qualities and pastimes fall in this category. Identifying this is not easy unless one sees through philosophy. Devotees generally aim at completing the rounds. Advanced devotees read but read for sake of preaching, not for themselves.

Solution: One should study philosophy to prevent such fall downs. One should also cultivate the proper mood and attitude while chanting and hearing about Bhagavān. One should chant attentively, humbly and gratefully, and hear with eagerness, faith and love.

Reasons which cannot be seen by the self and others but only by sādhus

Some reasons for falling down are very subtle and hidden, and they can only be detected by sādhus, who are saintly persons endowed with spiritual vision and compassion. Ego falls in this category. One cannot see one’s ego with the eyes full of ego. The ego that one is a senior devotee (senior devotee syndrome) falls in this category. It makes one subtly desire respect from others. The ego of sādhana also falls in this category. Sannyāsīs fall down because they think they are seniors and there is no need to take advice from others, nor do others give them advice.

Solution: One should associate with good devotees who point out our mistakes for our benefit and be prepared to listen to them. A good manager is open and accessible, while a bad one is not. One should also practice humility and tolerance, and avoid seeking honor and praise from others.Reasons that no one, including sādhus, can find unless one receives extraordinary mercy of Bhagavān.

Some reasons for falling down are so deep and profound that they can only be revealed by the extraordinary mercy of Bhagavān.

The conception that I am the seer, not the seen, falls in this category. Krsna Consciousness means one is not conscious of Krsna, but Krsna is conscious of him. One can never understand if one always sees through Krsna’s or his own eyes because we have always acted as the seer even while seeing through philosophy and sādhu-saṅga. Therefore, all śāstras recommend that one should see through the eyes of śāstras, which means seeing from Bhagavān’s viewpoint. Ego of faith, i.e., feeling that one has a lot of bhakti, falls in this category. One cannot know ego of faith in bhakti unless Krsna reveals it.

Solution: One should pray sincerely and fervently to Bhagavān for His mercy and guidance. One should also surrender completely to His will and accept whatever He arranges for one’s spiritual benefit. One should also be grateful for whatever bhakti one has, and not become complacent or proud of it.

However,in this article, Vaiṣṇava offense (aparādha) for one’s fall down, which many devotees attribute to has not included. One cannot always attribute problems in spiritual life to Vaiṣṇava aparādha if one does not follow basic principles.

One should have a general idea of the causes and their solutions. Then, one can gradually attain prem. Otherwise, one will be stuck in one of the four fall downs

How to Control the Mind?

The Flickering and Unsteady Mind

The mind is restless (cañcalaṁ) and constantly wanders from one object to another. The senses follow the mind’s desires. When the mind is attracted by a sight, the eyes lose control. When the mind is drawn to a sound, the ears lose control. When the mind craves a taste, the tongue loses control.

The mind is the source of all actions. Therefore, one faces a constant struggle with the mind and senses in conditional life.The mind is also unstable (asthiram). It never stays focused on anything for long, no matter how interesting or enjoyable it is. It soon abandons that object and seeks another. It does not remain attentive to something fascinating. It also discards that object, even if it brings some pleasure.

Thus, the mind is flickering and unsteady. It is important to realize that one cannot control the mind, for the mind is inherently uncontrollable, just like water flows by nature or fire burns by nature.

The Solution of Bhagavān

The nature of the mind is such that we cannot change it, and therefore we cannot control our senses. If we cannot control our senses, we cannot attain perfection.

But Bhagavān offers a solution: whenever the mind wanders, we should bring it back. It will wander again, because it is flickering and unsteady by nature. We can do this by following regulations (niyamya). Regulations are designed to help us pull back the mind.

But one may ask: what is the benefit of bringing the mind back if it will wander again, wasting our energy in the process? Kṛṣṇa says we must bring the mind back under the control of the self (ātmany). From the bhakti perspective, the self means the soul of the soul, i.e., Bhagavān. We should bring the mind back and place it under the control (vaśam) of Bhagavān Kṛṣṇa, because we belong to Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa is our origin, and when the mind is united with Him, it will become peaceful. Otherwise, it cannot be controlled.

Because Bhagavān is our source, the mind calms down at its source. Everything tends to connect with the source. When one engages in bhakti, one sees Bhagavān within one’s self. In other words, when one does bhakti, one’s mind will remain fixed in Bhagavān. The self also means the mind.

From the devotees’ viewpoint, the self has no power. Our goal is to become servants of Bhagavān, and our philosophy is to be humble like a blade of grass (tṛṇād api su-nīcena). By engaging the senses in devotional service, one can bring one’s mind and senses under control.

Conclusion

Bhagavān gives two solutions to control one’s senses. One is to bring the mind back, and another is to place it under His control. Both pulling back the mind and placing it under the control of Bhagavān are required. Therefore, both effort (prayās) and mercy (kṛpā) are required to control themind. To bring back the mind is effort and to engage it in the service of Bhagavān is mercy.

Valentine’s Day: A Sacrilege

Valentine’s Day is the greatest sacrilege in the history of humankind. Why do I say this? Because Valentine’s Day was originally celebrated in the memory and in the honor of Saint Valentine, who was a bishop and a Christian saint. But today, this Valentine’s Day has become a symbol of lust, sexual immorality, exploitation of females, and in fact, foolishness.

The History of Valentine’s Day

Saint Valentine, a Christian saint, was born in Italy. At that time, there was a Roman king named Claudius, who was obsessed with power and expanding his kingdom. He wanted to employ all men in his army, but the problem was that there was a rule that people who were married at that time were free to choose whether to go to battle or not. So, to avoid that and to recruit everybody in his army, he banned marriage laws. This promoted sexual immorality, promiscuity, and also exploitation of females.

People simply became animals, and this troubled Saint Valentine, because he saw this as completely against the laws and principles of the Bible and the principles of religion. He started preaching that people should be married and be responsible couples. Why did he preach this? Because the love between couples was a shadow, a resemblance, of the love of God. That’s what he understood by reading the Bible and practicing Christianity. And it makes sense, because the love of God is love, and love means responsibility. Love is not simply sex. God is responsible for delivering the devotee, and the devotee is responsible for upholding the laws of God and the honor of God in this world. So, both are responsible to each other, and that makes love. And that is reflected in marriage.

When people are married couples, how long does the thrill of sex last? It is for a year or so, and then it fades or is surpassed by love, where each couple is responsible to each other and they take care of children. That is what love is, and that love is a semblance of the love of God. That’s what Saint Valentine understood, and that is why he was preaching. He was marrying youths in the church and convincing them to lead a good life. He told them not to be like animals, not to just choose one female after another. He married so many people in the kingdom, and obviously, Claudius got mad. He got Saint Valentine decapitated, and that day, all his followers, whom he married and preached the love of God to, started remembering Saint Valentine. People almost canonized him that day, when he was decapitated. February 14th, this day comes, and they celebrate this day in his remembrance. And that’s where the birth of Valentine’s Day happened.

The Reality of Valentine’s Day Today

Today, Valentine’s Day has reduced the love of God to the love of flesh. Today’s Valentine’s Day has reduced a responsible, loving marriage to an irresponsible, promiscuous sexuality, illicit sex, and even divorces. Today’s Valentine’s Day has reduced the security of females to the exploitation of females. And then, on Valentine’s Day, a boy chooses a girl and a girl chooses a boy, and then they have sex, and then the girl becomes pregnant, and the boys are no longer interested in that female, and the female has to take care of her baby. This is what today’s Valentine’s Day is. And last but not least, today’s Valentine’s Day has reduced wisdom to foolishness.

The Wastage of Money on Valentine’s Day

On Valentine’s Day, the USA spends 20 billion US dollars and Europe and now even India and eastern countries spend billions and trillions of dollars in buying roses, Valentine cards, and makeup kits. They spend trillions of dollars in one day on these frivolous activities.

You can spend the same money in one day on more noble causes. WHO and UNESCO are crying for donations and money so that they can donate blood to sick people and treat sick people and then poverty and so many issues. But people ignore them and waste their money on Valentine’s Day.

The Loss of Values on Valentine’s Day

This is foolishness to actually spend your entire day in flirting with females and with males. Is this what you want to do in life?

You can spend an entire day maybe in fulfilling your own dreams, your own plans in life, your future plans, working on that. Or better than that, you can spend one day in spirituality and understanding meaningful questions in your life, in giving a thought to existential questions of life: who am I, who is God, what is life? These are questions which are worth pursuing and spending your day in spirituality.

This is the foolishness of Valentine’s Day which has made us forget all these values of life and has reduced us to almost foolish animals running after sex and flesh. That’s all.

The Appeal to Reject Valentine’s Day

So, my request is: don’t fall into this trap of Valentine’s Day. Tell others not to celebrate this Valentine’s Day because this day is evil and sacrilegious. It’s not that we don’t celebrate love, it’s that we don’t want any other people to celebrate Valentine’s Day because it harms the country and it harms the individual lives of people.

The Meaning and Significance of Maryada in the Ramayana

What is maryada? Maryada is a Sanskrit word that means the limit or boundary of something. In the Ramayana, Lord Ram is known as maryada purushottam, the supreme person who follows the limits of dharma, or righteousness. But what kind of limits did he follow, and why did he come to teach us about them?

Maryada as the Limit of the Universe

One way to understand maryada is to think of the universe as a bounded entity. The universe is limited by space and time, which are the dimensions that define its existence. Nothing can exist beyond space and time, or outside the boundaries of the universe.

Maryada as the Limit of Service

Another way to understand maryada is to think of the service that one can offer to God. Lord Ram did not come to teach us morality, or the rules of right and wrong, because morality can be learned from anyone. There are many saints and sages who can teach us morality. Lord Ram came to teach us devotion, or the love and surrender that one can have for God. He came to teach us the limits of service, or what one can do and what one cannot do, according to one’s position and relationship with God. For example, Sita can do things that Hanuman cannot do, and vice versa, because they have different roles and relationships with Lord Ram.

Maryada as the Limit of Love

The ultimate meaning of maryada is the limit of love, or the extent to which one can love God. The name Rama has many meanings, but one of them is the one who gives bliss to his devotees. He is the source of infinite bliss, and he likes to share it with everyone. He says to all the living entities, even if you can take a fraction of my infinite bliss, you will be drowning in bliss. But to receive that bliss, we have to become qualified. That is the process of bhakti, or devotional service.

ramante yogino ’nante

satyānande cid-ātmani

iti rāma-padenāsau

paraṁbrahm ābhidhīyate Ref CC ML 9.29

According to Agni Purana, ra means fire and sun god and ma means happiness. Rama means one who burns all the sins of his devotees by his expertness and ma means bliss. After burning all the sins, he gives bliss to his devotees.

Conclusion

Maryada is not just a moral code, but a limit or boundary that defines the universe, the service and the love that one can offer to God. Lord Ram, as maryada purushottam, exemplifies the highest standard of devotion, righteousness and compassion. By following his example, we can also attain the supreme bliss that he bestows upon his devotees.

The Lessons of Service from the Ramayana!

The Ramayana is a great epic that teaches us many aspects of devotional service to the Lord. In this article, I will focus on the lessons of service from the characters of Lakshman, Bharat, Shatrughan, Hanuman, and Sugriva.

Lakshman: The Wealth of Sacrifice

Lakshman derives his name from Lakshmi-maan, which means one who possesses Lakshmi or devotion. Lakshman teaches us that to serve Rama, we have to serve through Sita Devi, who is the embodiment of devotion. Lakshman stayed awake for 14 years to protect Rama and Sita, who were exiled in the forest. He walked ahead of them to avoid stepping on their footprints. He was the wealthiest person because he had the wealth of devotional service. He left his wife to serve Rama and showed us how to serve the Lord. He sacrificed everything: his sleep, his wife, his opulence, his throne. Lakshman teaches us that if we want to serve the Lord, we should be ready to sacrifice. The more we sacrifice in service, the more we progress. Lakshman teaches us that great souls are praised not only for their service, but for their sacrificing service. We all serve, but who is the one who is rich in sacrifice? Who knows how to sacrifice? Krishna wants to see that. That is what Lakshman teaches us. This is one aspect of service.

Bharat: The Burden of Service

The Burden of Service Bharat means bhara, which means the weight or the burden. He took the burden of service on his head. When Rama went to the forest, he asked Bharat to stay back and take care of the kingdom. Bharat did not accept the throne but took Rama’s sandals and served them as his representative for 14 years. He took the burden of God on his head and did not give his burden to Him. A servant goes to his master and says, “Oh my master, do you have any problems? I will solve them for you.” What is the problem of God? He is anxious about how living beings can be liberated from this material world. That is why He comes again and again. As a servant, we take His anxiety on our head. Krishna, you don’t worry about that. We will make sure that all souls will go back to the spiritual world. Bharat shows us that Rama was very worried about how his kingdom would run, but Bharat took care of it. Bharat shows us to take the burden of God on our shoulders, not to give our burden to Him. That is not devotional service.

Shatrughan: The Enemy of Lust

Shatrughan teaches us another aspect of service. Shatru means enemy and ghan means to destroy. Shatrughan destroyed the greatest enemy, which is lust. Shatrughan wanted to go with Rama to the forest to serve Him and Sita, but he did not go and chose to stay back in the kingdom. He conquered his lust to be with God. If you want to be with God for your own sake, that is called lust. Shatrughan knew that Bharat needed his help at that time because he would be alone managing the kingdom and Lakshman was already with Rama. So, he gave up his desire to be with Rama and stayed back. Shatrughan shows us that in service, lust can come in different forms and one of them is to have a desire to be with God. If you have a desire to see Him without the intention of serving Him, then that is lust.

Hanuman: The Planning and Enthusiasm of Service

Hanuman is teaching us the planning and enthusiasm of service. He is always planning how to serve Rama. He planned how to bring Sanjivani Buti, how to go to Lanka, and he is so enthusiastic and he wants to serve the Lord. Hanuman is teaching planning and enthusiasm in service.

Sugriva: The Friendship of Service

Sugriva is teaching that when you serve the Lord, you have to assist him in his mission. Sugriva assisted Lord Rama and in an act of devotion became friends with Krishna. And the definition in scriptures of a friend is one who participates in the happiness and the distress of his friend. We should be ready to serve Krishna in adverse conditions. Sugriva teaches that no matter how much adversity you are facing, always keep on serving God. And that is how you will express your friendship with God.

Krishna Prema: The Highest Goal of Human Life

In this article, we will explore the concept of Krishna prema, or pure love of God, as described by Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the founder of the Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition. We will also look at some of the characteristics of love that distinguish it from lust or selfishness.

Lord Caitanya describes,prema-pumārtho mahān. The highest goal of human life is Krishna prema, pure love of God.

kṛṣṇa-viṣayaka premā —parama puruṣārtha

yāra āge tṛṇa-tulya cāri puruṣārtha

‘Religiosity, economic development, sense gratification, and liberation are known as the four goals of life, but before love of Godhead, the fifth and highest goal, these appear as insignificant as straw in the street. (CC Adi 7.84)

Mahāprabhu says that Dharma(religiosity), artha (economic development),kāma(sense gratification), and mokṣa (liberation), the four principles of religion that pertain to the material world are all useless as one’s actual goal is to attain Love of Godhead.We Gauḍiya Vaisnavas are not here per se to become spiritual warriors, or soldiers, or sadhus, or devotees’, but to become lovers of God and render Him loving service.

Now the question is how do we search for Love? For that, we must know what is Love!

Characteristic of Love

Possessiveness :Transferring All Affection to God

One of the features of love is possessiveness, or mamatva in Sanskrit. This means that one transfers all one’s affection and attachment to the Supreme Godhead and considers Him as one’s own. This is different from the lust that is directed towards material objects or persons, which is based on the false concept of kinship.

To attain love of God, one has to give up all other so-called loves, including one’s own self. This is not easy, as we are attached to many things in this world. Therefore, God tests our sincerity by putting us in difficult situations, where we have to choose between Him and our material desires. For example, Draupadi, the wife of the Pandavas, was disrobed in the assembly of the Kurus, but she did not pray to God for protection. She only prayed for His love, and He came to rescue her. Similarly, Gajendra, the king of the elephants, was attacked by a crocodile, but he did not ask God for relief. He only asked for eternal liberation from ignorance, and God came to save him.

Selflessness: Serving God for His Sake

Another characteristic of love is selflessness, or hrdi marsnita in Sanskrit. This means that one serves God for His sake, not for one’s own sake. It is God who is important, not I. One does not serve God to get something from Him, but to please Him. This is different from the sentimentality that is based on one’s own emotions or expectations.

To attain love of God, one has to surrender one’s ego and serve God without any motive. This is not easy, as we are conditioned by our false ego and material desires. Therefore, God helps us by giving us the association of His pure devotees, who teach us how to serve Him selflessly. For example, the six Gosvamis of Vrindavan, who were the direct disciples of Lord Caitanya, renounced everything for the sake of God and dedicated their lives to His service. They wrote many books, established temples, excavated holy places, and preached the message of love of God to everyone. They showed us that love of God is not a matter of words, but of actions.

Addiction: Being Trapped by Love

Another characteristic of love is addiction, or bhava eva sandranatmain Sanskrit. This means that one is so captivated by love that one cannot escape from it, even if one wants to. This is different from the lust that binds us to material things or persons, which is based on our false identification. As many poets say, love is like a prison, where one is not handcuffed or locked, but still cannot leave. When one is trapped by love, one’s mind goes to God even when one is inattentive, just like our mind goes to material things when we are trapped by lust. That way, we cannot give up lust, and similarly, those who want to give up love cannot do so, because they are addicted.

Conclusion

Krishna prema, or pure love of God, is the highest goal of human life, as taught by Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. It is characterized by possessiveness , selflessness, and addiction which are the opposite of lust and selfishness. To attain love of God, one has to give up all material attachments and serve God for His pleasure. This is possible by the grace of God and His devotees, who guide us on the path of devotion. By following their instructions, we can hope to achieve the ultimate perfection of life, which is to love God and be loved by Him.