What is spiritual Life?

Question: Why did it take so long for me to get the grace of Sri Krishna Chaitanya? Are we actually so bad that we have to stay here for so long? Or is it more a sad story about us, the little fallen souls? At the same time this question is a little bit stupid, because I think I got some grace from Sri Chaitanya; otherwise I could not write His Name. I find that paradoxical, but I know that I am not in full knowledge either. Do you have any thoughts about that rather uncomfortably situation? My practical life doesn't seem to come along with the knowledge I recieved.

Answer: Spiritual life is all about developing transzendental love.

There was a great yogi who underwent severe austerities for many many decades. One day, when Narada Muni passed by, the yogi said: 'Narada Muni, so nice to meet you. Where are you going?' 'I am going to visit Visnu', replied Narada Muni. 'Really?', wondered the yogi, 'you are able to visit Visnu? How did you do that?' 'It was a blessing, Visnu gave me this instrument, a vina, and I am able to travel on the sound of that instrument', answered Narada Muni. Then the yogi asked: 'Can you do me a favour please? When you meet Visnu, please tell Him that there is a yogi who has been performing hard austerities for a long time. How many births will he have to take in this world until he reaches perfection?' Narada Muni said: 'Yes, I will ask Visnu for you, don't worry.'

Then Narada Muni went on and a little later he met a craftsman sitting in a meadow and doing his work. It was a simple and very poor man. The craftsman saw Narada Muni, offered his obeisances and asked: 'Oh, Narada Muni, please give me your blessings. Where are you going?' 'I am going to visit Visnu', replied Narada Muni. 'Visnu? You are able to visit Visnu? Wow. Can you do me a favour please?', asked the craftsman, 'How much more time do I have to stay in this world and suffer?' Narada Muni answered:'Yes, no problem. I will ask Visnu.'

So Narada Muni went to Visnu and told Him the story of the two persons. Visnu spoke: 'When you see them again, they will ask you what I have been doing. Tell them I was pushing an elefant through the eye of a needle. And depending on their reaction you will know my answer for them.' Narada Muni was pretty much surprised by this information but whatever Visnu says He would do.

The next time Narada Muni passed by our yogi, the yogi received him: 'Narada Muni, what a fortune to meet you again. Did you meet Visnu?' 'Yes', replied Narada Muni. 'And, did you ask Visnu?', the yogi wanted to know. 'Yes', said Narada Muni. 'And what did Visnu do?', asked the yogi impatiently. 'He was pushing an elefant through the eye of a needle', was the answer of Narada Muni. Then the yogi uttered: 'Come on Narada, stop telling jokes. I am a serious yogi. Don't tell me such ridiculous stories. Is there nothing reasonable you can tell me?' 'Well, yes', said Narada Muni, 'there is a message for you: you will still have to spend thousands of lives here in this world before you can reach perfection.'

After that Narada Muni continued his travel and met the craftsman again. The craftsman was very happy to see Narada Muni and spoke: 'Oh, Narada Muni, you are back already. Did you see Visnu? Did you ask Him? What has Visnu been doing when you met Him?' Narada Muni responded: 'Visnu was pushing an elefant through the eye of a needle.' 'Oh', said the craftsman, 'that is fantastic. I could never have imagined something like that. That is wonderful.' Astonished Narada Muni looked at the craftsman and asked: 'My dear craftsman, do you believe that story? Who could possibly push an elefant through the eye of a needle?' The craftsman replied: 'Ah, what do you think? Do you see that huge Banyan tree over there? It was in a tiny little seed and now it produces millions of seeds itself every year. If the Lord can put such a large tree in such a small seed, why should He not be able to push an elefant through the eye of a needle? That really would be nothing for Him.' Then Narada Muni responded: 'Well, I have also a message for you, dear craftsman: right after leaving this body you will go back to home, back to Godhead.'

So this is the crucial point. It is not a question of knowledge but a question of realization and good faith. All the rules, regulations and good advice in the Vedic scriptures help us to become established in the mode of goodness. But the actual goal of live is to develop real service, real love for the Lord. That is only possible by the mercy of the Lord himself. What we can do is to accept a spiritual master, who is experienced in Vedic knowledge, engage our senses in his devotional service and spread the glories of the Lord by chanting the Holy Names of the Lord. That will clean our consciousness from all material impurities, and we will become established in goodness. It will enable us to come closer to the perfection of a living being: to reestablish the forgotten relationship with God.

Vrinda Music

Question: Are there some music groups in Vrinda? And if so, what kind of music do they play?

Answer: Yes, many artists and young people are inspired by the message of Universal Love found in the example, teachings and books of Srila Prabhupada. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the great preacher of love for God, said that there are no hard and fast rules for chanting the Holy Names of the Lord. So Everybody can participate and help to distribute the Message of Love. It is a not matter of the color of your skin, social status, birth, age or any other material associations. We are all spirit souls and we have to satisfy the needs of the soul.

While in our temple programms we prefer classical bhajanas and kirtanas with mrdangas, kartalas and sometimes harmonium, there are many groups with different musical styles. From classical Vaisnava styles from India, to Rock, Metal and Hardcore bands presenting the message of Universal Love, Southamerican Salsa and other rhythms and cultural influences. The message of Lord Chaitanya becomes much closer and easily understandable for people in general if it is presented in their local languages and customs. So we also sing many devotional songs in the respective languages. This is approved by spiritual guardians of the Vrinda mission, Srila BR Sridhara Maharaja and Srila BP Puri Maharaja.

The beauty of spiritual life is in the unity in diversity. We are all individuals and therefore we have different approaches to spiritual life and we will develop different relationships with the Lord. But the first and essential thing is to come in contact with the Holy Names of the Lord. The first of the nine devotional processes is 'sravanam', hearing about the Lord, His transcendental nature and activities. The most powerful mantra, the maha mantra, can change people and their consciousness so much, it is amazing. We can seeit happen every day. Therefore we try to distribute this message of Universal Love through so many different channels.

You can see and hear music from some of our artists on our internet page http://www.consciusart.de.

How to use Japa beads

Question: Is it wrong to chant more than one Maha-Mantra on each bead on the japa-mala? Is there any Vaisnava etiquette rule regarding this? Thank you for any help!

Answer: According to the Sri Siksastakam from Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, there are no hard and fast rules for chanting the Holy Names of the Lord, but it is very important to sing them with all our heart. Our acaryas give clear instructions about the usage of japa beads for chanting the Maha-mantra. Usually we chant one complete maha-mantra on one bead and then go on to the next bead, without passing over the main bead, which is usually somewhat larger and represents the Lord himself. When we reach this bead, we change the direction and continue chanting the maha-mantra, bead by bead.

There may be some other traditions too but actually there is no need for alteration of the process, because our acaryas are the best examples that this process leads to the highest goal possible, true love for Sri Krishna, which is really the more important part; to chant the Holy Names without offenses. All forms and artificial behaviour will not help us in the end. Sincerity in the process will be the best protection for our love.

Listening to the Heart

Question: In the answer about abortion, you give the advice, to listen to the heart. How do I know, what is my heart? For exemple: A friend has big problems in his familylife. They have got two children, 2 and 5 years old. His wife, had an affair with another man. Now she has only negativ feelings for her husband. She does not know what to do. Her intellect tells her to stay with the family, but her heart and feelings tend to separate with her husband. Is it really her heart telling her to destroy the family?

Answer: guru sastra sadhu vaikya citete koriya aikya

First we have to consider Guru, Sastra and Sadhu. Then, at the end, we should listen to our heart. All of them should produce a congruent solution. Then you know that the solution must be very good. If you cannot find that harmony between the revealed truth and your understanding, start your research again. Do not act hastily. How could your heart disagree with the truth if the truth is the only thing beneficial for you? With the guidance of the revealed truth you will learn to understand your real heart and you will be protected from being mislead by your mind. When you are in doubt - don't do it. Pray to God to show you how to conquer your doubt. There is no reason to lament later if you proceed in that way.

PS: Tell your friend that one should try to save the united family almost at any cost, but that is only possible if God is in the center of your life. The concern for the welfare of the children - according to my feeling - should be given the priority. The parents already made so many decisions in their lives, but the little children are just starting their life and if they loose their trust in their guardians, they will have much pain to digest. Due to the fault of those who did not behave according to the sweet will of God, to maintain the family united. This is most properly due to ego-problems. And the only way to overcome the ego is to put the higher values over the lower relative considerations.

My best wishes for you, your friend and their children.

Sierra Nevada - Caribbean Sea and Snowpeaks

Question: Can you give some information about the new Yoga Monastery at the coast of Colombia?

Answer: We started a Yoga Monestary very close to Santa Marta, which situated in Bonda, in the Sierra Nevada. The devotees that are living there at the coast of Colombia, had a difficult time to visit our festivals for example in Bogota, due to the expensive and long journeys. Actually there are many temples along the Atlantic Coast of Colombia: in Santa Marta, Vaier Duper, Barraquilla, Cartagena, Cincelejo and Monteria.

With the help of Kesava Prabhu I was able to buy some land in the most beautiful mountain ranges of the world. All the devotees helped to build some traditional construction there. It is the land of the Cogis and Aruacos. And also, hunderts of years ago, some Indians, called the Tronas, used to live there. They had great skills of construction, and many boulder stairs, built maybe 500 years ago, lead through our farm. As we are cleaning the land, more and more of those wonderful staircases appear. And recently we inaugurated the temple of Mahaprabhu in this place. The devotees of the coast regularly hold large festivals there and they built the ashram in Cogi-style.

The temple itself is a little bit more modern and it is situated in the mango orchard. There are not so many devotees permanently living in the Yoga Monastery, but they are doing a very nice job. And Rasa Kirtan prabhu is working wonderfully to coordinate the activities on the coast. We just opened a restaurant in Santa Marta and there is also a Visnu Priya Asram, lead by mother Ajita, on the second floor of a nice building inside the town.

Preaching goes out far from here, to places such as Rio Acha and Maicao. Those places are very wild and only by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu's desire the Holy Names are reaching even there. If you have the opportunity and if you would like, please help this young Yoga Monestery or simply come, visit and stay with us for a while and you will surely discover another wonderful world; the world of dedication.

The Meaning of Preaching for a Married Man

Question: Is preaching important for a married man, a grihasta?

Since the majority of people gets married, there is nothing else than preaching and helping preachers that can safe them from material entanglement.

If you want to spend all your time preaching and you are not married, you are very smart to stay that way, because then you can dedicate your life not only to one family but to many more people. I really felt that focusing my life's energy on only one woman and some children would have been a terrible limitation to the intense desire of my heart to associate with and to help many people in this lifetime. That is why I chose to try to serve Srila Prabhupada as a member of the renounced order of life. No doubt, your mind will be tested many times, and your desire to serve your Guru and the people has to be strong enough that you will repeat and keep your wows every day. If you are not sure about that, it is best to stay a brahmacari, because if you should ever change your mind, you can still get married.

And if you are already married, be happy about this commitment. Be an excellent husband, father or mother, but do not disconnect yourself from preaching, because that will always give you new life and motivation to go on, to go forward on your path back to home, back to Godhead.