We invariably aspire and strive for lives brimming with love, peace, and harmony. These are the divine attributes of God. We are endowed with these virtues too, as we are His fragmental parts. However, these qualities are dormant within us. We may find ourselves, occasionally, manifesting these traits only for a fleeting moment. It’s because, unless our minds are pure, we cannot own/possess these qualities. How then, do we purify our minds, to bring about peace in our lives? There is only one impeccable way. Swami Mukundananda says, “In love for God, the impurities of the heart will disappear.”
So, let’s practice ananya prem, the art of loving God alone!
To love and to be loved is beautiful, but what is love? As per the Greek philosophers, there are several variants of love in the world – agápē (i.e., universal love), philía (i.e., platonic love), érōs (i.e., passionate love), pragma (i.e., enduring love), ludus (i.e., playful love), philautia (i.e., self-love), storgē (i.e., familial love), etc. All these varying forms of love, except agápē, are based on a ‘give-and-take’ or ‘no-give-and-take’ relationship. Whereas true love means:
सर्वथा ध्वंसरहितं सत्यपि ध्वंसकारणे।
sarvathā dhvansarahitam satyapi dhvansakāraṇe
(Ujjaval Nilamani 14.63)
“True love is when there is every reason for the love to be destroyed, and yet the love remains unshaken and selfless.” The gopis of Vrindavan adhered to this kind of self-sacrificing love that bound Shree Krishna.
A few days after Shree Krishna left for Mathura, He sent Uddhav to Vrindavan, with a message to Mother Yashoda and the gopis, to relieve their misery and distress caused by His separation. After conveying the message and attempting to appease the gopis, Uddhav asked whether they had a message for Shree Krishna.
One group of gopis said, “Inform Krishna that we are very happy.” Surprised, Uddhav asked, “But I see that you have been miserable each moment since He left. Why do you want me to convey this message?”
“It’s because we don’t want to cause him any pain, Uddhav ji,” replied the gopis. “If I told him that you are happy in his absence, would he not think that you don’t love him?” quizzed Uddhav.
“In that case, tell him how miserable we are, while waiting for him to return to Vrindavan,” responded a second set of gopis. “I certainly can give an account of your plight but would that not cause distress to him?” questioned Uddhav again. Not able to come up with an adequate answer, the gopis were lost in their thoughts.
“Watching the helpless gopis, Radha Rani beckoned to Uddhav and said tenderly, “Uddhav ji, you may convey any message that you wish, as long as the smile on Krishna’s face doesn’t fade; instead, his smile should broaden as he listens to your message.”
Such is the nature of unalloyed love! “To evoke such pure and selfless love for God, develop faith in God. To strengthen the faith, acquire the knowledge of God. This is the sequence,” expounds Swami Mukundananda. Therefore, to enhance our love for God, it’s imperative we be aware of our:
Sambandh – Relationship with God
Sādhya – Goal or purpose of life
Sādhana – Method or discipline undertaken in pursuit of the goal
Our true relationship is with God alone. He is the true object of all relations. The Sanskrit word for relative is sambandh (सम्बन्ध). The root of sambandh is Bandh (बन्ध), which means binding or joining. The prefix, sam (सम्) means together. So, sambandh means eternal and perfect bond or union.
Does any one of us have such an everlasting, eternal, or perfect worldly relationship? All are temporary associations. Our relations are like those acquaintances we meet during a journey. Once we arrive at our destination, the relationship with our fellow travelers ends. Similar is our life-long relationships. Life after life, for innumerable lifetimes, we have been forming relationships with others, and parting from them.
On the other hand, as Shree Krishna reveals, we are part of Him: mamaivansho jiva-loke jiva-bhutah sanatanah (Bhagavad Gita15.7). “The embodied souls in this material world are My eternal fragmental parts.”
Whereas our worldly relations are like the waves in the ocean. They travel together to the shore and then break away. All the waves rise from the ocean and fall back into the same ocean. So, all the waves are related to the ocean but have no permanent relationship among them. Similarly, we all souls are part of the Lord, and He alone is our true relative. Hence, Lord Brahma says:
भगवान् ब्रह्म कार्त्स्न्येन त्रिरन्वीक्ष्य मनीषया ।
तदध्यवस्यत् कूटस्थो रतिरात्मन् यतो भवेत् ॥
bhagavān brahma kārtsnyena triranvīkṣya manīṣayā
tad adhyavasyat kūṭa-stho ratir ātman yato bhavet
(Shreemad Bhagavatam Puran 2.2.34)
"I have churned the Vedas and the other scriptures thrice and have come to the conclusion that they declare only one thing – our eternal relationship is with Shree Krishna alone, and loving Him is the highest form of devotion." The sweet Supreme Lord is waiting with open arms. The moment we acknowledge our relationship with Him, at that very instant, He will bestow upon us the nectar of Divine love. We just have to say it once with all our hearts – “O Shree Krishna, you alone are mine!”
‘Love God with all your heart,’ say our saints and scriptures. How do we love Him? God follows like a shadow those who engage in exclusive devotion. Exclusive devotion means performing every activity for the pleasure of God. In other words, practicing dispassion towards the world and devotion to God. Dispassion or detachment from the world doesn’t mean we abandon our responsibilities. We continue doing our duty while reposing the mind in God alone. We need to practice lovingly serving Him with tan, man, and dhan (i.e., body, mind, and wealth), as an act of devotion to Him. We know that the Supreme Lord does not need any of these three, as He is the one who has bestowed these upon us, for our welfare. We can use these to either serve God and elevate ourselves, or serve Maya and sink deeper into the mire of this material world.
Loving and serving God melts and softens the heart; hence, the devotees naturally become gentle and compassionate while interacting with others. Besides, they discern God seated in everyone and see all as children of one God. This belief results in a constant absorption in God, establishing a loving relationship with Him. Such devotees are extremely dear to the Lord.
Why love Him? It is because, when we do so, peace descends. It is in our self-interest we need to love God. Shree Krishna assures that by loving Him, even the most fallen soul can attain eternal/lasting peace:
क्षिप्रं भवति धर्मात्मा शश्वच्छान्तिं निगच्छति |
कौन्तेय प्रतिजानीहि न मे भक्त: प्रणश्यति ||
kṣhipraṁ bhavati dharmātmā śhaśhvach-chhāntiṁ nigachchhati
kaunteya pratijānīhi na me bhaktaḥ praṇaśhyati
“Quickly they become virtuous and attain lasting peace. O son of Kunti, declare it boldly that no devotee of Mine is ever lost.”
The soul is by nature pure and pristine. However, it is concealed by the impure mind. Once these impurities of the mind are eliminated, the glorious qualities of the soul naturally shine forth. Peace is the result of a purified mind, and the mind is cleansed only in the constant association with the all-pure God. Therefore, the Ramayan states:
प्रेम भगति जल बिनु रघुराई। अभिअंतर मल कबहुँ न जाई।।
prem bhagati jal binu Raghurāī, abhiaantar mal kabahuṁ n jāyī
"Until we wash our mind in the water of love of God, its dirt will never go."
Thousands of years ago, there was a conflict between two families, the Kauravas and the Pandavas. The Kauravas had snatched the kingdom from the Pandavas using deceit and treachery. To resolve this conflict, Shree Krishna went as a mediator to Duryodhana who was leading the Kauravas. He requested Duryodhana to give only five villages from the entire kingdom to the Pandavas. Duryodhana refused to give up anything without a fight. Shree Krishna then displayed his divine form to convince Duryodhana but he disregarded this as a joke and requested to have Shree Krishna tied down and thrown into the prison. Duryodhana’s father warned him not to meddle with Shree Krishna this way. Upon realizing his mistake, Duryodhana requested to forget everything and invited him to join him in a feast of Chhapan Bhog (i.e., 56 items). Shree Krishna declined the invitation and announced that he had received an invitation from Vidur, the counselor of the Kaurava King.
Hearing this, Vidur ji, who was sitting at the back of the assembly got up and ran quickly to the market to get food for Shree Krishna as he was unprepared to receive him at home. Shree Krishna did not wait. He reached Vidur ji’s house and started banging on the door. He called out to Vidur ji’s wife, Vidurani, to open the door quickly saying that he was very hungry. At that moment, Vidurani was bathing. Vidurani used to meditate upon feeding Shree Krishna in her house daily. So, when she heard the call, she lost her senses as soon as she realized it was Shree Krishna. She ran immediately. She didn’t even realize that she hadn’t covered herself so when she opened the door, Shree Krishna covered her immediately with his pitambar (i.e., yellow-colored stole). She welcomed him inside. She brought some bananas and started peeling them, but instead of discarding the peels, she put the peel in Shree Krishna’s mouth and dropped the fruit. Her knowledge had drowned in loving sentiments and she was not aware of what she was doing. Shree Krishna ate those peels with love saying that he had never tasted anything like this before.
In the meantime, Vidur ji arrived announcing that Shree Krishna was going to visit them. Upon entering he saw Shree Krishna eating the banana peels that Vidurani was offering. Vidur ji scolded Vidurani for not taking care of what she was feeding Shree Krishna. Instead, he offered the food he had picked up from a shop but Shree Krishna denied the food indicating that the loving taste he experienced from the banana peels was not present in the food bought from outside. Shree Krishna had savored the love of a devotee.
In the journey of discovering spirituality and seeking solace, young people often turn to prayer as a means to connect with a higher power. It is not uncommon for youth to approach God with specific requests or desires, often accompanied by promises to donate to their place of worship or engage in acts of kindness. However, there exists a profound and transformative way to love and connect with God—the path of unconditional love.
As young individuals navigate the complexities of life, they often turn to God for guidance and assistance. Youth may pray for success in exams, finding true friendships, and much more. In these moments of prayer, they may feel the need to promise something in return, such as making donations to their place of worship or committing acts of service. These gestures stem from a genuine desire to show gratitude and honor, but they can unintentionally reinforce a transactional relationship with God, where prayers become mere exchanges of requests and obligations. The focus shifts from embracing the profound love and wisdom of God to seeking the fulfillment of personal desires. Consequently, the relationship becomes superficial, and their connection with the divine is based on whether their wishes are granted.
To truly love God, we need to learn to love unconditionally. This means transcending the boundaries of personal desires and expectations and learning to love without expectations. This form of love, often referred to as bhakti (i.e., devotion), is a transformative path for young individuals to establish a profound connection with the divine. Unconditional love entails surrendering ego-driven desires and embracing God's will wholeheartedly. It is an acknowledgment that God's wisdom surpasses our limited understanding. Through unconditional love, youth learn to accept the joys and challenges of life as part of a higher plan, trusting that every experience serves a purpose. The way to practice this sentiment at this time, having just started on the spiritual path, is through prayer. Pray to become closer to God and to do everything as a service to Him.
Embracing unconditional love enables young individuals to embark on a transformative spiritual journey. This path opens their hearts and minds, allowing them to perceive the divine in everything and everyone around them. Unconditional love nurtures empathy, compassion, and a genuine desire to selflessly serve others. By releasing the grip of the ego on personal desires, youth can align their actions with divine qualities such as kindness, forgiveness, and humility
Unconditional love liberates young individuals from the cycle of desire and attachment, facilitating a profound sense of oneness with God and the world. It empowers them to surrender their worries and burdens to the divine, placing trust in God's love to guide and protect. This surrender fosters inner peace and contentment, regardless of external circumstances.
As young individuals explore their spirituality, it is essential for them to recognize the transformative power of unconditional love in their relationship with God. While it is natural to approach God with specific requests, embracing unconditional love allows youth to transcend transactional exchanges and develop a profound connection with the divine. By surrendering personal desires, they can experience spiritual growth, peace, and a deep understanding of themselves and the world around them. Creating a strong bond with God that surpasses personal expectations and desires.
You might be surprised to hear that rather than diet or exercise, our personal relationships are a critical factor in longevity. How positive and nurtured we are in our relationships has a powerful influence on our health. Our most important relationship is with our eternal relative, Shree Radha-Krishna. It is our one relationship that is everlasting, ever-present.
Taking care to cultivate a personal loving relationship with God is paramount. He tells us that he is closer than the closest, sitting right in our ethereal hearts. Whichever soul loves him at whatever time, to whatever extent, he loves the same soul at the same time, to the same extent, and in the same sentiment. This is God’s expression of the Law of Love. It gives hope to each of us that we also can reach out to Shree Krishna.
How to reach out to Shree Krishna? Through meditation, we can realize the presence of God and cultivate our relationship with him. God is all-pure. When we focus our minds on him, our minds will also get purified. Take a seat and place a picture of God in front of you or close your eyes and simply bring the image of God to the mind. Remember God, his names, forms, pastimes, abodes, and loving saints.
What is the best time of day for meditation? The best time of the day to meditate is early morning a few hours before sunrise during Brahma Muhurta. Brahma means God, and this is the time for communing with God. In the early hours before sunrise, when the environment is calm, the atmosphere is pure, and you have just woken up, your mind is like an empty screen. As the day proceeds, images, thoughts, and emotions start filling the screen. On the other hand, if these early hours do suit your schedule, then go ahead and meditate at another time of day more convenient for you. Meditation upon God is pure and can be practiced at any time.
What is the best direction to face for meditation? Take a seat and meditate upon God. The direction you are facing while meditating does not matter. God is everywhere. So, we can face any direction.
Seeing God in others makes it easier to maintain our worldly relationships. Dozens of studies, including an ongoing 85-year study of adult development by Harvard University, confirms that people who have valued relationships with family, friends, and their communities have fewer health problems, live longer, and have a higher degree of satisfaction in life. On the other hand, those who have troubled and fewer relationships are more prone to depression, cognitive decline in later life, as well increased mortality. So, why not look for the qualities of God in others and try to be less self-seeking, more understanding, and more forgiving with others?
We can make our best contribution to relationships by becoming aware of our self-seeking nature and moving toward more selfless behaviors. In the long run, cultivating better relationships will lead to better health for ourselves, our family, friends, and communities. The secret to good relationships can be the purity of mind that comes from meditating upon the all-pure, God.
Love towards humanity and the well-being of people is pivotal for a healthy and happy world. Simple healthy habits, if inculcated in our daily routine, can ensure a balanced, composed, disciplined, and stress-free lifestyle. One way to achieve this goal is through Yoga. Most health-conscious people are aware of India’s incredible ancient practice of yoga.
Yoga is derived from the root word “Yog” which means union with God. The goal of life is to attain yog with God. This can happen only when the mind is focused on God alone. As Maharshi Patanjali says, “The practice of the various limbs of yog destroys the impurities, and the lamp of knowledge illumines with discriminative wisdom (2.28).” To endeavor toward a lofty goal, we all need to take small but incremental steps.
The Dallas Yoga Fest 2023 provides an opportunity for the DFW community to participate in person in a celebration of health, harmony, and eco-friendliness. This 3-day program is designed to promote a healthy and happy lifestyle that nurtures the body, mind, and soul connection for people of all ages. It is an opportunity to connect to a wealth of expertise and knowledge about yoga and other natural and holistic health alternatives!
A new addition to this large-scale yoga festival is the integrated Sustainability Summit!
Dates: June 16 to June 18, 2023
Location: Radha Krishna Temple of Dallas, 1450 North Watters Road, Allen, TX 75013
Details and Registration: https://www.radhakrishnatemple.net/DallasYogaFest
This magnificent Hindu temple is the serene abode of Shree Radha Krishna where you imbibe the nectar of love for God, celebrate festivals with the Indian community in Dallas, practice meditation and yoga, enrich your children’s lives with Vedic culture, or simply relax and enjoy the spiritual environment with your family.
Non Profit 501(c)(3)organization.
Federal tax ID:26-3490578.
1450 N. Watters Road, Allen, TX 75013 (Dallas–Fort Worth Metroplex)
Phone: (469) 795-9130
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