Sunday, April 20, 2014

EASTER 2014!

OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST - On Easter Sunday, Christians around the world celebrate the resurrection of their Lord, Jesus Christ. The account of Jesus' rising from death was recorded in the Gospels of the New Testament. Prior to his crucifixion, Jesus had told his disciples that he would rise again on the third day after his death. He had been buried in a tomb, guarded by an enormous stone so that no one could steal the body. 
When some women visited the grave, days after his death, they found that the stone had been moved and the tomb was empty. Jesus was seen that day and for several days later, when he revisited his friends and disciples. One disciple did not believe Jesus was alive again until he touched his fatal wounds from the crucifixion.

In the following 40 days, hundreds of people witnessed Jesus' return from death, proving all he had prophesied was true – that Christ had indeed risen from the dead before ascending to heaven. For Christians, the fact the Jesus rose from death demonstrated He has power over death, and only through Him can people have hope for eternal life. Jesus said, "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16). 
With his resurrection Jesus broke the power of death and gave a hope permanent to all mankind. Following the sombre mood of Good Friday which marks the crucifixion of Christ, Easter Sunday is therefore a time of great celebration for Christians.

Today (April 20) the Christian community around the world is all set to celebrate Easter. Easter Sunday is typically the most well attended Sunday service of the year for Christian churches as the Christian community holds prayers and special ceremonies to mark the Easter week. The Friday before Easter Sunday is observed as a mourning day due to Jesus died on Good Friday while Easter Sunday is celebrated as ‘the day when Jesus resurrected.’ Jesus rose from the dead on the third day after his crucifixion.  His resurrection is celebrated today, Easter Sunday (also Resurrection Day or Resurrection Sunday). Just as the birth of Christ is at the center of Christmas, the story of his death and resurrection is at the core of Easter Sunday or Resurrection Day. For Christians, Easter is the greatest manifestation of God’s love that gives hope amid the evils of the world. Also for the Jews is a day to celebrate because Passover marks the passage of the children of Israel from slavery in Egypt.  We should remember that Lord Jesus preached the love of God, forgiveness and compassion; however, He was tried and crucified without mercy. He preached the consciousness of God, therefore He is our spiritual master, He is our Guru. For those who are not Jews, nor Christians, nor believe in the stories that tell the life and death of Jesus, this is also an auspicious time to perform introspection and evaluation of their daily actions, so it would be nice if we transform all our existence so that not only today, but all our days become a continuous Easter Sunday or Resurrection to a new spiritual life in harmony with God and our brothers and sisters. (Editor's note).

The Śrīmad Bhāgavatam states that any bona fide preacher of God consciousness must have the qualities of titiksā (tolerance) and karunā (compassion). In the character of Lord Jesus Christ we find both these qualities. He was so tolerant that even while he was being crucified, he didn't condemn anyone. And he was so compassionate that he prayed to God to forgive the very persons who were trying to kill him. (Of course, they could not actually kill him. But they were thinking that he could be killed, so they were committing a great offense.) As Christ was being crucified he prayed, “Father, forgive them. They know not what they are doing”. A Vaisnava is unhappy to see the suffering of others. Therefore, Lord Jesus Christ agreed to be crucified - to free others from their suffering.

Śrīla A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda :
“The Science of Self Realization”
Chapter IV “Understanding Krishna and Christ”
“Krishna, Christos, Christ”
Bhaktivedanta Book Trust International

Published by dasavatara das - “Vedic Views on World News”

Thursday, April 17, 2014


Vatican City (CNN) - The washing of feet was a radical act in Jesus' time. It is no less radical in the modern era, with Pope Francis' decision to break with the long-standing papal tradition of washing only priests' feet, to include women and non-Christians in the symbolic ceremony. The controversy began on Holy Thursday last year when Pope Francis washed the feet of two women and two Muslims at a juvenile detention center in Rome. 
Before this, modern Popes had only ever washed the feet of 12 priests at the Vatican, during the Mass for the Last Supper. This year, Pope Francis visited a home for the elderly and disabled, the Fondazione Don Carlo Gnocchi, to wash the feet of "12 disabled people of different ages, ethnicities and religious confessions," during a special Lord's Supper Mass, according to the Vatican.

Those chosen for the special honor included a 16-year-old boy from Cape Verde who was paralyzed in a diving accident last year, a 19-year-old man and a 39-year-old woman diagnosed with cerebral palsy, and two 86-year-olds with mobility problems. The 78-year-old pope smiled at each of the people whose feet he washed, but clearly struggled to get up from his knees as he moved down the line; two assistants helped him to his feet. He appeared to tire towards the end of the short ceremony. 
The tradition of the pontiff washing his priests' feet is based on a passage of the Bible which says that Jesus attended to his disciples at the Last Supper, saying, "If I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet." (John 13:15) But until last year, no pope had dared to go against Vatican rules and choose anyone but priests for the Holy Thursday event. In choosing to change the practice, Francis is being as radical as Jesus was in his own time.

Pope Francis washed the feet of 12 elderly and disabled people during a Holy Thursday ritual in Rome on Thursday. Francis continues to break with tradition by performing the pre-Easter ritual on non-Catholics. According to Vatican leaders, Francis' gesture was one of humility and service, intended to embrace those on the fringes of society. From the beginning of his papacy, the pope himself has been on the "fringes" of long-standing Vatican protocol, for example by choosing to live outside of the papal palace and eschewing traditional papal garments and modes of transport. In breaking the rules of foot-washing at the Vatican, the Pope is acknowledging what has been a practice in local churches for some time, and also reminding Catholics that the important thing is not whose foot is being washed, but the spirit behind that gesture. The congregation of the Roman Curia, named Vatican's Congregation for Divine Worship, states that foot-washing “represents the service and charity of Christ, who came 'not to be served, but to serve.'” We try to follow the steps of our spiritual teachers, despite all our weaknesses and imperfections, and thus, we celebrate this concept and agree with Pope Fracis who has said, “Jesus made a gesture, a job, the service of a slave, a servant. And he leaves this inheritance to us: We need to be servants to one another.” This is what Srila Prabhupada taught us that the Vaishnava is a server that is always ready to provide a service to the Lord and, in the same way, the Lord is always looking for an opportunity to render some service to His devotee. We must overcome the selfishness that is based on ignorance and to seek spiritual enlightenment that allows us to change ourselves, and go step by step developing the qualifications to be eligible to engage in the loving devotional service of the servants of the servants of the loving devotees who are eternally engaged in serving the Supreme Lord. (Editor's note).

Unless we cleanse the pollutions, the artificial impositions that are upon our mind we can’t understand our natural state of health. So the purpose of human life according to the great acharyas, according to the great scriptures is to clean the mind, to make it pure. ... Because think about it, is happiness something outside of yourself, is happiness something you can put in yourself? Real happiness is a state of consciousness. ... Every religious system every religious path that is actually authorized teaches how to clean your heart, how to purify your mind, how to see your true eternal self in the mirror of your consciousness. First thing is we have to stop throwing dirt in our mind by our activities. We should live according to ethical, moral principles. We should live in a spirit of service to others rather than exploitation of others.

Published by dasavatara das - "Vedic Views on World News"

Sunday, April 6, 2014


CELEBRATIONS ON APRIL 8 Ram Navami is one of the most significant days observed by the Hindus, especially the followers of Vishnu. Ram Navami is the day etched out in the Hindu calendar as the auspicious occasion that consecrates the birth of Lord Ram, Lord Vishnu's seventh human incarnation on earth. Born to King Dasarath and his wife Kaushalya on the 'navami' or the 'ninth day' of Chaitra month, Ram Navami is celebrated in the spirit of a festival in March/April. 
According to Hindu belief, Lord Rama came on earth invested with the divine qualities of Lord Vishnu, associated with purity of soul, beneficence and humility. From the mythological perspective, Lord Rama is seen as eternally blissful and in his earthly form came to exemplify the perfect man, referred to as 'Maryada Purushottam'. It is this aspect that is recalled during the Ram Navami festival.

Lord Rama's dutifulness, integrity and magnanimity are detailed out through the various episodes of the epic 'Ramayana'. Recitations and discourses from the Ramayana help us to take cues from Lord Rama's demonstration of integrity and courage in order to triumph over evil motives and selfish desires. Thus, Ram Navami festival is for all those who want to imbibe these qualities in thought and action. 
It is with this spirit that Ram Navami is celebrated in all parts of the country, with instances of full nine-day celebration and fasting rituals to seek Lord Rama's grace throughout the crest and troughs of life. Since the day coincides with the wedding of Rama and Sita, the mood on this day is extremely jubilant. In Andhra Pradesh, temples re-enact the marriage of Lord Rama and Sita on the final day of Ram Navami. 

This year 2014, Sri Ram Navami falls on 8th April and it is celebrated with elaborate preparation and fervor. The rituals in the observance of Ram Navami include recitations from 'Ramayana' or Tulsidas's 'Ramacharitmanas', long renditions of bhajans and kirtans and awe-inspiring puja and arti. The bhajans are very uplifting as they eulogize the virtues of Lord Rama, Lakshman, Sita, and Hanuman. Hanuman is known for is his devotion to Rama, and a lot of devotees recite 'Sunderkand' that strengthen qualities of courage and dedication. Ayodhya, Lord Rama's holy birth place witnesses a huge congregation of devotees who come to take a holy dip in river Saryu on the pious occasion of Ram Navami. In South India, the Ram Navami festival carries on for nine days consisting of several elements of ceremony and rituals. In Rishikesh, which is an important seat of Ram worship, special prayers dedicated to Lord Rama, japas and constant chantings invoking Lord Rama's name is a common practice. Mantras like 'Om Sri Ram', 'Jai Sri Ram' raise the higher energies around the place. Our spiritual teachers have taught us that if we hear about the life of Ramachandra, His activities and pastimes, we will be associating directly with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, for there is no difference between His form, His name, His pastimes, and Himself. With his exemplary behavior, Lord Rama achieved unity in thought, word and deed, for that reason, far from celebrating Ramanavami as a mere celebration, this occasion is an invitation to elevate our emotions, our feelings and our understanding of spiritual contemplation and self-control, with which we come into harmony with the forces of the world. (Editor's note).

Dasharatha was the king of Kosala, an ancient kingdom that was located in present day Uttar Pradesh. Ayodhya was its capital.  The childless Dasharatha was advised by his family priest Vashishtha to perform a fire sacrifice ceremony to seek the blessings of God for children.  While performing the fire worship ceremony, a majestic figure rose from the sacrificial fire and handed to Dasharatha a bowl of rice pudding, saying, “God is pleased with you and has asked you to distribute this rice pudding (payasa) to your wives - they will soon bear your children.”  The king received the gift joyfully and distributed the payasa to his three queens, Kausalya, Kaikeyi, and Sumitra. Kausalya, the eldest queen, gave birth to the eldest son Rama.  Bharata, the second son was born to Kaikeyi and Sumitra gave birth to the twins Lakshmana and Shatrughna.  Rama’s birthday is celebrated now as “Ramanavami”.

Stephen Knapp (Śrīpad Nandanandana dasa) :
“The Ramayana Summarized”  -

Published by dasavatara das - “Vedic Views on World News”

Friday, April 4, 2014


FESTIVAL CELEBRATING THE GODDESS Hindus are observing the holy period of Navratri, through worship and devotion. Navratri is a nine-day observance which has began last Monday (March 31) and will continue until April 8. Known as Chaitra Navratri this period starts on the first day of Chaitra (March April) month and ends on Rama Navami (the birth of Lord Rama) which is the ninth day of the month.
Navratri is one of the most prominent festivals of Hinduism. The first three nights are dedicated to the goddess of action and energy, Durga. Her different manifestations of Kumari, Parvati and Kali are worshipped during these days. Goddess Lakshmi is worshipped for the next three days in her various aspects as the goddesses of peace, plenty and bliss. Fulfillment is more important than wealth itself. As the goddess of wealth, Goddess Lakshmi bestows wealth, success and fame and fortune to her worshippers and devotees.

On Lalita Panchami (the fifth day), children gather all the books in the house before a sacred lamp and invoke the blessings of Goddess Saraswati. It is also the occasion for all artisans to lay down their tools before the goddess and seek her benediction upon their trade. Goddess Saraswati is the goddess of knowledge. The religious Navratri festival revolves around the three aspects of Goddess Shakti which are worshiped, with first three days devoted to Goddess Durga, followed by fourth, fifth and sixth days devoted to Goddess Lakshmi and last three days for Goddess Saraswati. 
The devotees observe fasting for seven to eight days, and break their fast on the eighth day (Ashtami) or ninth day (Navami) of the festival, by carrying out “Kanya Pujan” or “Kanchika Pujan”. This involves worshipping and seeking blessings of nine young girls, representing the nine forms of Goddess Durga.

Since last Monday, 31 March, festive fervour has gripped India as thousands of Hindus began the nine-day fasting festival 'Navratri' (nine nights). During fasting, only fruits, milk, potato and other root vegetables should be eaten. Devotees are involved in chanting of mantras (Hindi words), and (bhajans) related to the Goddesses. All along this week, all-day services take place at temples throughout the country, with devotees making offerings throughout the day. This Hindu festival culminates with Ram Navami (this year falls on April 8); it is the ninth day of the moonlit fortnight in the Chaitra as per Hindu almanac, which usually coincides with the spring season and falls in the month of March or April. Vasant signifying spring and Navratri signifying nine nights; Vasant Navratri is celebrated in the spring season of March or April of each year for exactly nine nights. It is observed by Hindu’s and all other devotees all over the world. Vasant Navratri involves several days of fasting (performed by all the true devotees) and is dedicated to celebrating the nine forms of the mother goddess, Shakti and the birth of Sri Rama. The ninth day is also the day of the Ayudha Puja in the south of India. The Ayudha Puja is worship of whatever instruments one may use in one's livelihood. On the proceeding evening, it is traditional to place these instruments on an altar to the Divine. Our spiritual masters have taught us that we should make conscious efforts to see the Divine in the tools, instruments and objects we use every day. By doing this we are connecting our work, labor, study or profession to God and we can see them as imbued with the Divine presence. In this way we can be able to maintain constant remembrance of the Divine and also see our daily activities as an offering to the Supreme Lord. (Editor's note).

Navaratri includes the Sarasvati Puja and the Durga Puja festivals. “Nava” means nine and “ratri” means night. So Navaratri literally means nine nights. It is during these nine nights of festivities that the goddess is worshiped in Her different forms of Durga, Lakshmi and then Sarasvati. Durga ... destroys the anarthas or unwanted barriers that hold us back from our true spiritual potential. (...) Lakshmi .... gives one the wealth of good qualities, such as love, goodness, compassion, forgiveness, cooperation, nonviolence, devotion, purity, and the like. (...) Sarasvati ... gives one the intelligence, knowledge and wisdom by which spiritual realization is possible. ... After having removed our impurities, gained the proper virtues, and then acquired the knowledge of the Self, then the last day is called Vijayadasami, or the day of victory over our minds and the lower dimension after having worshiped the goddess in her three forms.

Dr Stephen Knapp (Śrīpad Nandanandana dasa) :
“Hindu Festivals”

Published by dasavatara das - “Vedic Views on World News”