Who Is Krishna?

krsna n cow who is krishna natural living bhakti yoga

If we are interested in learning more about the yoga system, especially bhakti yoga, it is inevitable that we will begin hearing about Krishna. We will hear the name of Krishna being chanted or sung at kirtan meditations. We will hear about Krishna – and Krishna’s instructions to us – from yoga scripture, such as the Bhagavad-Gita. And we will see beautiful pictures of Krishna.

So, naturally, we will want to know – who is Krishna?

Although the name Krishna may be new to us, it is helpful for us to know that Krishna is not a stranger to us. He is actually the person who is closer to us than anyone else in existence. In fact, He is our closest relative and dearmost eternal Friend. He travels with us, in our heart, in every lifetime, in every body – giving us guidance and comfort. We may have forgotten Him, but He never forgets us, even for a moment. His love for us is absolutely unconditional, unwavering, indefatigable. He is always aware of us, of absolutely everything we are going through – and knows our heart, knows us, even better than we know our self. It is Krishna, our dear eternal Friend and well-wisher, who is constantly offering us opportunities to come back into full remembrance of our true spiritual nature, and thus experience real and lasting happiness, peace, fulfillment, and love.

Simply put, Krishna is God, the Supreme Person. He is our original Source and the foundation of our existence. In fact, He is the Source of every person and thing, all that is material and all that is spiritual. Everything animate and inanimate emanates from, and rests upon, Him. He alone has no other origin for He is the Original Cause of all causes. He is the Supreme Friend and Well-Wisher of all living beings. And He is the Supreme Controller, eternally.

Krishna who is known as Govinda is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He has an eternal blissful spiritual body. He is the origin of all. He has no other origin and He is the prime cause of all causes.” ~Śrī Brahmasaḿhitā 5.1

In the yoga scriptures it is explained that out of all the spiritual beings in existence, there is one being who is uniquely superior to all the other beings. He alone is Supreme and all others come from Him, and are dependent upon Him. Krishna is the Supreme Spiritual Being and all other living beings are subordinate to, and dependent upon, Krishna. He is the center and foundation of all life.

The Supreme Person has innumerable transcendental names, forms, and expansions, but Krishna is His original name and form – His supreme name and form. All other names and forms are contained within the name and form of Krishna.

So when we speak of Krishna, all the other names and forms of God are included. Govinda, Gopala, Rama, Narayana, Vishnu, Yahweh, Allah, Jehovah, and so on, are all included within the name and form of Krishna. We can relate with Him through any of His transcendental names, but the name Krishna is supreme and all-inclusive – and also the most intimate and endearing name – so Krishna is the name He is most often called in yoga, especially bhakti yoga. Similarly, we can relate with Him through any of His transcendental forms, but Krishna is His original and supreme form, His most intimate form. Thus, in bhakti yoga, we will see people relating with Him most often as Krishna.

As individual spiritual beings, we are a part of Krishna’s marginal spiritual potency. Although we are eternal spiritual beings, made of spiritual energy, we are always subordinate to the Supreme Spiritual Being. We are eternally individuals and eternally subordinate. The Supreme is always Supreme in every circumstance and situation. We can never become Him, or become superior to Him. Although we are spiritual in essence and have many of the same qualities as Krishna, we have these qualities in very minute quantities. We are always dependent upon and subordinate to the Supreme Person. Thus, we have a natural tendency to want to serve Him and be in harmony with Him. Doing so brings us immeasurable transcendental pleasure and satisfaction.

Our eternal relationship with Krishna is compared in the yoga scriptures to the sun globe and the particles of sunlight which emanate from the sun globe. The Supreme Person is like the sun globe, and each of us is like one of the innumerable, infinitesimal particles of sunlight which emanate from Him. As individual spiritual sparks, we are distinct from the Supreme and He is distinct from us – yet we are eternally, intimately related with each other.

This intimacy of relatedness between ourselves and the Supreme Person actually goes far beyond what can be intellectually grasped from this metaphor. The relationship between the sun globe and the particles of light emanating from the sun globe is impersonal. But the relationship between the Supreme Person and each and every one of us is absolutely personal – and the foundation and essence of these relationships is love.

When we speak of Krishna, we’re speaking of the perfect friend.” ~Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda Paramahamsa

Living in loving harmony with Krishna is our natural condition. When we are again linked up with Krishna in love, in yoga, we experience transcendental bliss (ananda). Yoga means to be united with, linked up with, the Supreme Person in a condition of pure love (bhakti).

When we begin hearing about Krishna, seeing pictures of Him, and hearing and singing His Names, our natural attraction for Krishna is awakened. Krishna literally means “the all-attractive Person.” As the origin, foundation, and center of our existence, as the dearmost, loving Friend of all, Krishna has a special, unique, eternal relationship with each and every one of us – with all living beings. It is this relationship with Krishna that draws us to Him, that inspires us to seek Him, even if we are not consciously aware of this attraction.

Often, in the material world, our attraction for Krishna is misdirected toward things and people of this world. So we may unconsciously look for Krishna, our eternal Friend, Lord, and Beloved, in relationships of this world. But because none of these things or other living beings are Krishna, we are never fully satisfied. However, when we come into contact with Krishna through His transcendental Names, forms, instructions, and devotees, our consciousness becomes purified – and thus we are able to awaken to the realization that it is Krishna who we have been seeking all along.

who is Krishna natural living symasundara-crop

This may be an immediate and very tangible awakening, or a subtle awakening that unfolds over many years, or even lifetimes – but the awakening is there. And because our attraction for Krishna is such a core aspect of our being, because it is so deeply pleasurable and nourishing, we follow this attraction. We consciously choose to put ourselves in environments where we can continue to see pictures of Krishna, to hear about Him, to hear His names, glories, and instructions – and to associate with others who are also knowingly attracted to Him.

When we do this, not only our attraction blossoms, but also our remembrance of Krishna, our relationship with Him, and our love for Him blossoms more and more. Directly, consciously, experiencing this loving relationship with Krishna is the perfection of happiness for the living being. There is no happiness higher than this anywhere, in all of existence. It is the Supreme Treasure of all treasures. The deep spiritual happiness of consciously, lovingly reconnecting, reuniting with our Supreme Friend is the nectar we long for within the very core of our being.

Out of His love for us, Krishna is constantly giving us opportunities to remember Him, and love Him again. For this day and age, the primary method that He gives us to reunite with Him is through hearing and chanting His transcendental Names. In yoga, this is called Mantra Meditation. These Names of God are not ordinary, mundane sound, but are, in fact, Krishna Himself appearing in the form of spiritual sound vibration. Krishna’s Names originate in the spiritual realm and descend to the material platform without losing any potency – having been handed down orally for countless centuries via an unbroken chain of bonafide spiritual masters.

O my Lord, Your Holy Name alone can render all benediction to living beings, and thus You have hundreds and millions of names like Krishna and Govinda. In these transcendental Names You have invested all Your transcendental energies. There are not even hard and fast rules for chanting these Names. O my Lord, out of kindness You enable us to easily approach You by Your Holy Names, but I am so unfortunate that I have no attraction for them.” ~Sri Śikṣāṣṭakam, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu

By first hearing Krishna’s Names through an authentic source, then repeating them, our dormant relationship of love with Krishna can eventually be fully re-established. Names which relate with Him in very intimate and endearing ways, such as Krishna, Gopala, Govinda, Rama, Madana-Mohana, Gauranga are especially potent in awakening the dormant love for God which resides within our heart of hearts. If we want to very deeply, intimately, and directly know who is Krishna, then the best and most essential method is through regularly, daily, hearing and chanting or singing these Names.

Although there are no hard and fast rules for hearing and chanting the Names of the Supreme Person, the most spiritually potent way of practicing yoga mantra meditation is through the congregational hearing and chanting of God’s Names – which is called kirtan or sankirtan. In kirtan, two or more people gather together to hear and chant or sing the Names aloud. Often a call and response format is used, and it is common for the chanting to be accompanied by musical instruments, and even dancing.

Not only is kirtan the most powerful way to awaken our loving remembrance of Krishna, but it is also very easy and fun for people of all ages and abilities to participate in. Naturally, people like to get together with friends and family, play music together, sing, and dance. When we dovetail these natural tendencies for the purpose of coming to know and love God, they become an immeasurably beneficial spiritual activity. Through kirtan, we can all help each other to reconnect with our Supreme Friend Krishna and become truly happy and fulfilled.

The yoga scriptures clearly state that it is only by coming in contact with Krishna’s Names, that our dormant love for Him can be fully awakened. And it is only through loving Krishna, that we can truly come to know Him – purely, directly, as He is.

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I worship Govinda, the primeval Lord, round whose neck is swinging a garland of flowers beautified with the moon-locket, whose two hands are adorned with the flute and jeweled ornaments, who always revels in pastimes of love, whose graceful threefold-bending form of Śyāmasundara is eternally manifest.” ~Śrī Brahmasaḿhitā 5.31

For more on Krishna, I highly recommend the article Who Is Krishna by Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda Paramahamsa

And for videos, articles, and more on Kirtan, Bhakti Yoga, and related subjects, I highly recommend visiting: http://wisdom.yoga/

 

Naturally In Harmony – Music for Spiritual Realization

natural living in harmony music spiritual realization2

Naturally, we are attracted to music. For many of us, it plays such a central role in our lives that we listen to it every day, throughout our day, and even while we sleep. Music has a powerful influence on our consciousness and can affect us in very beneficial ways. Many hospitals and healthcare centers nowadays are regularly using music to assist in the health and wellness of their patients. Certainly, our mind can be affected by music in a variety of desirable ways. However, the most beneficial way that we can use music is for spiritual realization.

The music that most of us listen to is made up entirely of material sound. Even nature sounds, like the sound of ocean waves or rain or songbirds chirping, are all material sounds. Although material sound vibrations can be used to create pleasant mental, emotional, and physical states, all these benefits are only temporary. They may help our mind and body to feel calm or happy or energized for a short period of time, but then the effect diminishes. We may listen again, but the desired effect still fades away. If we listen to a material sound or song all day every day, what tends to happen is that we grow tired of listening it.

The reason material sound only brings us temporary pleasure is because it just feeds the mind and body, which are also made of material energy. But we are not the mind and body. In fact, we are made of a completely different energy – spiritual energy.

According to the ancient yoga scriptures and other bona fide scriptures of the world, we are eternal spiritual beings only temporarily wearing the material mind and body. The gross physical body can be compared to outer clothes and the mind or subtle energy body can be compared to under clothes. Just as we are not the clothes we are wearing, we are not the material bodies we are wearing either.

Because we are spiritual beings existing within material coverings, and within a world made up almost entirely of material energy, we tend to lose awareness of our spiritual nature. Our consciousness becomes covered by the misconception that we are material and that everything in existence is material also. In this condition, we fall asleep to our true spiritual nature and operate as if we actually are the material mind and body we are wearing. Our life becomes centered on taking care of these “clothes” and we become lost in this endeavor, like a dreamer becomes lost in a dream.

The mind and senses are always agitating for stimulation of some kind and so we are endlessly engaged in running here and there, trying to obtain this thing or that situation in a vain attempt to satisfy them. We do this under the misperception that by satisfying our mind and bodily senses, we will be satisfying our self. But, in fact, it has just the opposite effect. The more we focus our life on trying to appease the mind and senses, the more agitated they become. And, the more we buy into the misunderstanding that the clothes are us, the more empty, bewildered, frustrated, unhappy, and desperate we become. We will find ourselves doing all kinds of unhealthy things in an urgent attempt to pacify the increasing agitation, and in doing so, we drift further and further away from our true spiritual nature.

We become so caught up in chasing things outside of ourselves – in trying to obtain recognition and approval from others, external power and control, wealth, fame, sensual gratification, and whatever else it is that our mind and body agitate for – that we forget who we are and what is actually essential for us to live a rich, meaningful, and fully satisfying life. Without realizing who we truly are, it is impossible for us to know how to be actually happy and fulfilled.

So how can we realize our true nature?

When we look to the yoga scriptures, we find an answer that can easily be incorporated into some of our favorite activities – hearing, singing, and playing music.

The yoga scriptures recommend mantra meditation – meditation on sacred sounds – as the primary means for self-realization in this day and age. A mantra is not something anyone makes up. It is the Absolute Truth in sound vibration. This spiritual sound vibration descends from the spiritual platform to the material world without losing any of its potency. In mantra meditation, a person hears and chants or sings this spiritual sound and thus is directly relating with the Supreme. This has a profound purifying effect on our consciousness.

These sacred yoga mantras can very easily be combined with music of all genres to create a musical meditation that is an incredibly potent and delightful way to practice meditation – alone or with others. Already we have a natural tendency to want to hear and play music, sing, dance, and engage in joyful activities with other people. By making mantra meditation the basis for these activities, they transcend the mundane and become a means by which participants can taste the sweetness of their true spiritual nature.

The more we practice mantra meditation, the more our consciousness becomes purified of material misunderstandings and misgivings. Practicing daily – with or without music – enables us to gradually awaken from the dream of the material self and into remembrance of our actual self. We all have innate spiritual inclinations and activities which become covered when we erroneously take ourselves to be the material mind and body. Through regular practice of mantra meditation, this mirage can eventually be seen for what it is and we are able to resume our natural way of life, in full awareness of our spiritual nature.

In this awakened state of consciousness, we revive our original loving relationship with the Supreme and it becomes very clear to us how to live our lives both happily and in harmony with all of life. In our natural state of consciousness, there is no confusion about what is to be done and what is not to be done. There is no struggle to find happiness or interact peaceably and honestly with others. There is no longer anything subverting our hearts, so we spontaneously relate with others in genuinely kind and caring ways.

We become the friend and well-wisher of all, endeavoring with unwavering compassion to give others the same opportunity that we were given –  to discover the Divine love song that will lead us back to our real self and our highest, happiest, most fulfilling life.

For more information on specific types of yoga Mantra Meditation, simply click on the links below:

Kirtan

Japa Yoga

Gauranga Breathing

Finding Real Happiness

be yourself natural living yoga wisdom

We are all searching for happiness. Every step we take, every choice we make, is with the hope or expectation that it will bring us happiness. There is never a time when we choose with the hope of finding suffering. Always, we are seeking happiness. It may be instantaneous happiness that we are focused on, or future happiness, but always we are wanting the end result of our efforts to be happiness.

Moreover, we are not just wanting a little bit of happiness here and there – happiness that is tepid and superficial. We are not just seeking happiness that lasts for a few moments, a few hours, or even a few years. We want happiness that completely satisfies us to the very core of our being and never fades away. We long to be immersed in happiness that is so all-encompassing that there is no way for us to fall out of it. What we truly desire is to be perfectly and permanently situated in happiness.

But how can we expect to find such happiness when we take instruction on happiness from those who do not know where to find it either. So many people want to instruct us on happiness – parents, relatives, teachers, friends, social network acquaintances, celebrities, advertisers – even our own minds want to instruct us on happiness. But who amongst them have actually found the pure and boundless happiness that we seek?

If we are sincerely wanting to know how to be established in real and lasting happiness, we need to look to the bona fide scriptures of the world. For it is in these scriptures, written by and about saintly persons who are actually permanently situated in perfect happiness, that we will find instructions on how we, too, can realize this level of perfection.

In the Vedic scriptures it is clearly explained that the reason we are constantly frustrated in our attempts to find perfect and permanent happiness is because we are looking in the wrong place for it. We are attempting to obtain this perfect and permanent happiness in terms of material objects and situations, but everything that is made of material energy, by nature, is imperfect and impermanent. All things material must come to an end sooner or later – even the bodies that we wear – so we can never find perfection and permanence through material objects or situations.

So then where can we find the happiness we are seeking?

To understand the answer to this question, we must first realize that we are not made of material energy. Our minds and bodies are made of material energy – but we are not our mind and body. We are eternal spiritual beings that are only temporarily wearing these coverings. The gross physical body can be compared to outer clothes and the mind or subtle energy body can be compared to under clothes. Just as we are not the clothes we are wearing, we are not the material bodies we are wearing either.

When we are convinced that we are the material “clothes” we are wearing, then we search for happiness and fulfillment within the material concept of life – within the realm of the material mind and physical senses. We relate to people, objects, situations, anything we encounter – even our own self – in terms of how they are perceived by our mind and physical senses. When we do this, we do not see or relate to anything as it is, rather, all that we encounter is reduced to that which is within the very limited and inherently flawed perception of the material mind and senses. In this distorted state of consciousness, we completely miss the actual purport of our existence. We do not experience the incredible richness and sublime sweetness of our true calling – and we cannot engage in life with the deep understanding, reverence, joy, and love that is possible when we are actually in full knowledge of our spiritual identity.  

If we want the life that we long for in our heart of hearts, then we must seek to understand ourselves in terms of our spiritual identity. We have innate spiritual tendencies and qualities, but they have become covered through living under the influence of material nature. By engaging in a genuine process of spiritual realization in direct association with our spiritual Source, our consciousness can become purified. As the material influence on our consciousness is dissipated, our true nature – our spiritual nature – becomes revealed.

In the ancient yoga system, the recommended method for spiritual realization and consciously linking up with our spiritual Source is mantra meditation. A true mantra is not something anyone makes up. It is the Absolute Truth in sound vibration. This spiritual sound vibration descends from the spiritual platform to the material world without losing any of its potency. In mantra meditation, a person hears and chants or sings this spiritual sound and thus is directly relating with the Supreme. This has a profound purifying effect on our consciousness.

Through mantra meditation, our hearts and minds are gradually purified of material misconceptions, and we are able to increasingly taste the divine sweetness of our true nature. With sincere, daily practice, materially-distorted perceptions gradually fall away and our inherent spiritual nature is revealed. The more we awaken to our spiritual identity and the loving relationship with the Supreme that is inseparable from it, the more we naturally return to an existence that is in complete harmony with all that is.

To be in complete harmony with the Absolute reality is our natural condition. When we are situated in our natural condition – perceiving, and relating to, all beings and all situations from the platform of fully realized spiritual consciousness – we not only are established in happiness, but we radiate it from our very core. It is only when our consciousness is entangled in material misconception that we are away from our true nature and so cannot experience this innate, radiant joy. However, when our consciousness becomes purified through mantra meditation, we are reunited with the Absolute truth and thus are re-situated in the boundless wonder, beauty, and pure unadulterated bliss of our being. This is real happiness – and it is our natural condition.

For more information on specific types of yoga Mantra Meditation, simply click on the links below:

Kirtan

Japa Yoga

Gauranga Breathing

What Is Kirtan

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Kirtan is a type of yoga meditation. It is the most-recommended type of yoga meditation for this day and age because it is so easy and accessible to everyone.

Usually, when people think of meditation, they think of sitting still and silent, while focusing the mind on a particular object. In the ancient  yoga system, the act of concentrating the mind one-pointedly on an object is called Dharana. It is actually considered to be a pre-meditation technique. Once a person mastered Dharana, they could then proceed to Dhyana which is when a person uses this ability to fix their mind one-pointedly on the Transcendent. (In yoga, to be considered meditation, the object that is being focused upon must be the Transcendent. Yoga meditation is transcendental meditation.) Yogis who were successful in this type of meditation were extraordinary individuals who lived in solitude under very austere conditions because that was what was required to bring the mind under control to the extent that a person could hold it in a single fixed position for extensive periods of time.

This exceptional level of mastery over the mind and senses is just not practical or even really possible for people in this day and age. Fortunately, there is a type of yoga meditation that is both practical and very accessible to all people…kirtan meditation. Kirtan is an ancient form of yoga meditation that became very popular in India over 500 years ago due to the influence of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu who created a spiritual phenomenon that has since spread around the world.

In kirtan, people gather together to chant or sing transcendental mantras. Kirtan can be accompanied by traditional or electric instruments, drums and percussion, clapping of hands or no music at all. In a kirtan, usually one person sings the mantras and then others respond with the mantra going back and forth between leader and responders.

A transcendental mantra is described as being the descent of the Divine in the form of sound vibration making it possible for us to experience yoga or union with Supreme. Hearing and repeating such spiritual sound vibrations has the gradual effect of reawakening one’s natural spiritual love.

Not only is kirtan possible for everyone to engage in, but it is also very enjoyable. The teachings of yoga recognize that we all have a natural tendency to enjoy singing, playing music and being with other people. The practice of kirtan perfectly harmonizes these natural tendencies into a spiritually uplifting activity.

People of all ages, backgrounds, ethnicities, religions, lifestyles, physical and mental abilities can engage in kirtan. There are no qualifications or lifestyle rules necessary for kirtan. Kirtan is for everyone and anyone. Even if a person is not particularly interested in spiritual life or is not very developed intellectually (as in the case of a baby or a mentally-impaired person), they can still benefit from kirtan and experience happiness and healing from it because kirtan is transcendental. It works on the level of the soul, gradually clearing away that which interferes with one’s experiencing the peaceful, joyful, loving nature that is innate within every living being.

Finding Kirtan

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From the very first time I encountered kirtan, it held an attraction for me that I could not explain. Before I had attended, I had heard that kirtan was spiritually beneficial and certainly that was something that attracted me. And I very much enjoy singing and dancing to beautiful music and being in the company of other spiritually-inclined people. But the attraction that I felt was on a totally different level. It was not intellectual, not something I thought about. It was just there in the way that something that has always been there suddenly reveals itself to you. And you can not help but recognize this something because it naturally belongs with you. Like breathing. You never think about your attraction to breathing because it so naturally belongs with you. Finding kirtan for me was very much like finding my breath and realizing that I had been holding myself from it for my entire life.

The more I participated in the weekly kirtans that were being held in my community, the more my attraction and appreciation for it grew. I felt my heart healing and opening to new levels and experiences of love, joy, peace, and understanding. For me, finding kirtan was the end of a very long search. I had spent my life searching for something I could not name. In the experience of kirtan, I found what I had been looking for.

So what is kirtan, you may now be asking. There are many ways to try to understand the answer to this question.

You may have heard that kirtan is the group singing or chanting of transcendental sound vibrations, or yogic mantras. That it is a spiritual activity which purifies the mind and heart, bringing with it deep states of joy and peace. That it is an eternal love song between the soul and the Supreme Soul, a form of musical meditation that has the gradual effect of reawakening one’s natural spiritual love.

Kirtan is all of these and more. And it is the most natural inclination of the soul.

(More on kirtan in the next article…What Is Kirtan?)