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Friday, April 11th, 2003

Rama & Krishna
Two sides of the same coin

Today is the appearance day of Lord Ramachandra, so after mangala arati, I am asked to say a little about Rama...

I start by saying how Lord Rama is much more respected than Krishna in many parts of India and the world, because Rama's pastimes conform to most people's ethical notion of what God should be like: He is straight-forward in His dealings, He is virtuous, truthful, honest, has one wife, etc.

Krishna's pastimes, on the other hand, unfold in a crooked way: He is a debauchee, a liar, a cheat, a thief, has many girlfriends, etc. Not the sort of behavior one would expect from God.

However, if we can understand that God is the source of everything, that everything belongs to Him, and that everything is meant exclusively for His enjoyment, then all our misconceptions — our self-righteous objections, our ethical misgivings, our moral apprehensions — will be harmonized.

   bhoktaram yajna-tapasam
   suhrdam sarva-bhutanam
   jnatva mam santim rcchati

When we understand that everything — everything! — including ourselves belongs to Krishna (sarva-loka-mahesvaram), and exists exclusively for His enjoyment (bhoktaram yajna-tapasam), and also, that He is our best friend (suhrdam sarva-bhutanam), then how can we have any objection to what He does (jnatva mam santim rcchati)? Whatever He does is for our own good!

But because we live in the plane of misconception, because we identify ourselves with this body, we think: "This is my butter. Why is Krishna stealing it?" or, "This is my wife. Why is Krishna attracting her?" We have to transcend this petty I-me-mine way of thinking and understand that Krishna is the Supreme Enjoyer.

If we can do this — if we can harmonize Krishna's activities as being for the supreme good of all — then very quickly we shall become free from the shackles that bind us to this body, this false ego, this bodily conception of life.

Krishna Himself, in Bhagavad Gita 4:9, confirms this:

   janma karma ca me divyam
   evam yo vetti tattvatah
   tyaktva deham punar janma
   naiti mam eti so 'rjuna

I paraphrase the translation of this verse with the explanation that blew my mind when I first heard it from Sripad Bhakti Sudhir Goswami Maharaj while living in the San Jose temple in 1984:

If we can understand how Lord Krishna's appearance and activities in this mundane world are thus supramundane, we can transcend our present bodily conception of life, and, even while still living in this body, liberate our consciousness and dwell on that transcendental plane where Krishna Himself lives, where every atom of existence is not just conscious, but Krishna conscious.

Sri rama-navami ki — jaya!

In the afternoon I get news that Goswami Maharaj has returned from the Ukraine and is in Moscow, where he will give the evening program. He will then take the midnight train to St. Petersburg, and will arrive here at seven o'clock tomorrow morning. It's been a little over three weeks since I last saw him...
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