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Lockdown or Rebound?
All of India remains under lockdown to control the spread of COVID-19. Our leaders have acted appropriately by enforcing regulations based on the experiences of other nations, and consequently, India is one of the best-performing countries in this global fight against coronavirus. While we all stay at home, I hope none of us are allowing our spiritual practice to get locked down.
All my life, the sounds of the Lords name have always filled the air around me. But today, with temples, mosques and churches all closed, and spiritual gatherings of any kind strictly prohibited, there is an almost deafening silence. Does the lockdown mean our spiritual practice is also locked down? Absolutely not. In fact, the lockdown provides us with an opportunity to do more spiritual practice, not less. But how? I can’t even go to the mandir? Let me describe two simple spiritual practices you can adopt that Jagadguru Shri Kripalu Ji Maharaj often advocated. These can be done (and should be done) anytime and anywhere, lockdown or not.
In all my father’s discourses and literary works, he advises spiritual aspirants to always remember Shri Radha while lovingly reciting Her name on their breath. This is his Jagadguruttam Mantra for the modern world. The ideal japa, the simplest method and most accessible means to bring God into your life, keep Him there and ultimately realise Him. When we breathe, two things naturally happen – inhalation and exhalation. While you inhale, you should do the japa of ra, without making any external sound, just using your mind. Similarly, when you exhale, you should do the japa of dhe. This practice is called naam japa. You can do this silently wherever you are. But be sure not to forget to engage your mind in loving meditation on Shri Radha Rani. Involvement of the mind in any form of devotional practice is essential. They are truly blessed whose hearts are absorbed in Shri Radha while constantly chanting Her name.
The second practice is to always remember that you are not alone. Every hour, on the hour, think for a few seconds, “God is with me; God is watching me.” Again, you need not utter a word, and no one need know. While sneezing or coughing, during bouts of fever or when your breathing is heavy, during all these moments too, remind yourself of the presence of God - the omnipresence of God – which means you are never alone. When this becomes your habit, then reduce it to every half an hour, and so on.
These simple practices have immense power, capable of elevating you to tremendous spiritual heights. The more you do it, the more natural it becomes, and the more tangible God will feel in your life. Use this lockdown to grow spiritually.
HH Dr Vishakha Tripathi
President, Jagadguru Kripalu Parishat
Blessing in Disguise
These really are unprecedented times. We are all seeing the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping across the world, caused by a newly discovered coronavirus. Isn’t it astonishing how something so small, only visible under a microscope, has brought the entire world to its knees? Tragically, thousands have lost their lives and thousands more have been displaced. Businesses have closed, production has stopped, and stock markets are shaky. People’s livelihoods are in jeopardy and many feel anxious and worried, fearful about how they will make ends meet. Our once rampant independence and carefree lifestyle is now taboo. Large gatherings are out, and social distancing is in. The emotional strain is visible on people’s faces and the dark cloud of depression looms large on the horizon.
My heart goes out to you all, especially those grappling with personal loss. I hope all of you are following the guidelines imposed by the government and are adopting best practices to break the spread of the virus. Together, we will triumph. In the meantime, stay at home, stay safe and don’t become complacent. There is still a long road ahead.
As I sit wondering what to write, I am reminded of a deeply profound saying I first heard in my childhood – the Lord moves in mysterious ways. Perhaps now, more than ever, our faith in the words of God, His Saints and our scriptures is being put to the ultimate test. How we all fare, is in our own hands.
My father, Jagadguru Shri Kripalu Ji Maharaj, always told us that God is causelessly merciful. Behind His every word and in His every action there is nothing but grace and grace alone. He, who is seated within every living being and every particle of this universe, governs everything according to immaculate law. Nothing happens by chance or indiscriminately. We hear these words and even nod our head in agreement, nevertheless, when we look around it seems that we are facing challenges that are without parallel. Suffering and misery of one kind or the other surrounds us and is befalling people in increasing numbers throughout the world. How can we move through these unsettling times and maintain our equilibrium?
Firstly, we must be strong. We must boldly face life’s challenges by believing in the words of the scriptures that God is ever benevolent and ever merciful. He is the supreme protector. But His divine ways are beyond our material comprehension. Therefore, what seems to us as tough times is actually His grace in disguise. In time, we all will come to see the unique opportunity that has arisen - urging us to revise, reflect or rediscover our faith in God. Our running has stopped and our opportunity to go within has started. If we do, not only will our planet be rejuvenated, but we will rejuvenate our own true spiritual selves.
May you all become brighter shining lights amid these times of darkness.
HH Dr Vishakha Tripati
President, Jagadguru Kripalu Parishat
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It is several months now since the coronavirus first entered our lives. Like a tornado, it has whipped up tremendous upheaval that is being felt in every corner of the world. Fatalities are in their tens of thousands (and still rising) and thousands more are (or have been) sick and hospitalized. The ripple effect has been equally dramatic, destabilising millions and forcing many to stay at home, without work, and with no certainty when things will return to normal.
Our previous experience tells us, however, that during any time of calamity – and our country has seen plenty – we have always taken solace in the teachings of the Saints and our belief in God as our all-merciful father, protector and guiding light. And we must do the same in these times too. The surest way to get out of the doldrums is to seek the counsel of the Saints, and through correct understanding, the pathway back into the light will be illuminated. Let us take a moment now – as believers and lovers of God – to review what the Saints have said about the spiritual reasons behind suffering. Why has God thrust such circumstances upon us? What is He trying to teach us?
The first point to understand is that through hardship, one is forced to explore and develop their own potential, which in turn makes us stronger by bringing us closer to God. Death reminds us of the uncertainty of life. Our spiritual masters therefore recommend that we should never procrastinate when it comes to our spiritual practice, for the morrow may never come. We are reminded that we all came into this world alone, and we will leave it alone. Not only that, but we can take nothing with us. This forces us to ask, “What actually belongs to me?” Whatever we have, we have only temporary use of. Our property, our money, our industries, our houses, even our own body and bodily relations – nothing belongs to us and nothing will go with us, except our good and bad deeds, the combination thereof determining our next birth. Physical suffering is therefore meant for spiritual awakening.
We must take nothing for granted. God has sent uncountable holy men and women to bring us to our senses. He Himself has even descended from time to time to bring us closer to Him. Yet, we stubbornly remain standing with our back towards Him. How can He force us to turn to Him? One way is through suffering.
If we contemplate on the fact that whatever is happening is all the play of God, we will be less disturbed by it.
Thus, use this lockdown to lock God in your heart and you will never feel down. Realise Him to be with you as your protector and as the only genuine doctor in your life. Take the medicine of His loving remembrance as prescribed by the Saints, and you will surely walk through the trails of life.
HH Dr Vishakha Tripathi
President, Jagadguru Kripalu Parishat
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परमपूज्या बड़ी दीदी के द्वारा सत्संगियों के हित में जारी गाइडलाइंस
१- सदा सर्वत्र हरि गुरु को अपने साथ मानो। कभी मत सोचो हम अकेले हैं, वे सदा हमारी रक्षा कर रहे हैं और करेंगे। इस विश्वास को दृढ़ करो। रोकर उनको पुकारते रहो वे अवश्य तुम्हारी पुकार सुनेंगे।
२- निरंतर श्री महाराज जी की लीलाओं का, उनके गुणों का, उनके उपकारों का, उनकी कृपाओं का स्मरण करो।
३- मन को ख़ाली मत छोड़ो किसी न किसी साधन से उनके ही चिंतन में लगाए रहो। यूट्यूब पर उनके प्रवचन संकीर्तन सुनो, उसमें मन नहीं लगता तो DVD पर उनकी लीलाओं को देखो और रस लो। उसमें भी मन नहीं लगता तो कोई भी पुस्तक ले लो श्री महाराज जी के द्वारा लिखी गई और उसे पढ़ो। फिर भी मन इधर उधर भागता है तो श्री महाराज जी से ही रोकर प्रार्थना करो।
४- एक दूसरे के प्रति दुर्भावना मत करो, परस्पर सम्मान की भावना बढ़ाओ।
५- श्री महाराज जी ने जितना परिश्रम किया है उसकी कल्पना भी नहीं की जा सकती, उनका परिश्रम व्यर्थ न चला जाए उनके सिद्धांतों के अनुसार ही अपना जीवन व्यतीत करो।
६- निराश होना श्री महाराज जी का अपमान है। साधना न करने से ही निराशा आती है। साधना और सेवा दोनों ही आवश्यक हैं। श्वास श्वास से राधे नाम का जप करते हुए ही सेवा करो।
७- मोबाइल फ़ोन का उपयोग कम से कम करो, केवल ज़रूरी काम की बात ही करो अन्यथा उसमें भी महाराज जी का मैटर ही सुनो और देखो।
Respected Badi Didi has recommended the following guidelines for devotees for their welfare:
1. Always believe that Hari and Guru are with you. Never think that you are alone, they are always protecting you and will continue to do so. Build on this faith. Keep calling them shedding tears and they will definitely hear you one day.
2. Think about Shri Maharaj Ji's pastimes, his qualities, his acts of kindness and his grace all the time.
3. Do not let your mind be a free bird. Keep it engaged in thoughts of Shri Maharaj Ji in some way or the other. Listen to his lectures and sankirtans on YouTube, if that does not hold your mind then pick up any book written by Shri Maharaj Ji and read it. If your mind still strays, then cry out and pray to Shri Maharaj Ji asking for his grace.
4. Do not have any ill feelings towards one another. Intensify feelings of mutual respect for each other.
5. The amount of effort that Shri Maharaj Ji has put in to elevate us is beyond our imagination. Do not waste his efforts, lead your life sincerely following his principles.
6. Getting depressed is a sign of disrespect towards Shri Maharaj Ji. One gets sad only due to lack of sadhana, spiritual practice. Both sadhana and sewa, service are equally important. Engage in service of Hari and Guru while internally chanting Radhey with every breath.
7. Limit the use of mobile phones to the bare minimum and conversations to the utmost necessary ones. Else use your phone only to hear and watch Shri Maharaj Ji's matter online.
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Among the numerous captivating anecdotes narrated by Shri Maharaj Ji, one of the most quoted instances is when Lord Nrisimha descended on earth and His conversation with the beloved devotee Prahlada. The enthralling part of the story is how a small child confronts the Lord over a boon and eventually leaves Him speechless and mesmerized. Although we may have heard it many times, each time we do we find a new dimension to it. Through this one episode of God's incarnation, Shri Maharaj Ji has explained many spiritual principles that are the tenets of devotion and must be assimilated and practiced by spiritual aspirants.
1. God is all-pervading, He is present even in an inanimate stone pillar, and that too, in the palace of a demon! A true illustration of प्रभु व्यापक सर्वत्र समाना, "God is present equally everywhere."
2. No one is immortal, everyone has to leave this body. The mighty demon Hiranyakashipu had the strength of thousands of elephants, so much so that a single strike with his club shattered a huge stone pillar of his palace. Moreover, he asked Brahma for a boon that would make him nearly invincible, yet he had to leave his body.
3. Human intellect is limited. The demon applied all his might and intelligence to ask for a boon from Brahma, but could he surpass the all-knowing, all-mighty, all-pervading God? Even if we applied the greatest of our intellects, still we cannot think beyond the material world with our material intellect.
4. God is full of conflicting dualities. He is both extremely fearsome and extremely calm at the same time.
उग्र भी कृष्ण हैं गोविंद राधे।
लक्ष्मी भी डरीं नरसिंह ते बता दे॥ ७०५७॥
अनुग्र नरसिंह गोविंद राधे।
प्रह्लाद हित अति शान्त बता दे॥ ७०५८॥ (राधा गोविन्द गीत)
5. Devotion makes one fearless. Even celestials are terrified of God, Prahlada with child-like innocence approached Him boldly. Although many gods and goddesses, Brahma, Vishnu, Shankara and the likes, had appeared to welcome and offer their obeisance to God, no one had the courage to face this ferocious manifestation. Even God's consort, Lakshmi, refused to lead the congregation. Eventually, Prahlada took the lead. There was one lion outside and one inside Prahlada's heart!
6. Devotion imposes no age restrictions. Bhakti can be practiced at any age, in fact, the sooner the better. That is what Prahlada preached to his demon friends at the age of four.
कौमार आचरेत्प्राज्ञो धर्मान्भागवतानिह ।
दुर्लभं मानुषं जन्म तदप्यध्रुवमर्थदम् ॥ (भागवत 7.6.1)
He was a disciple of Sage Narada who had graced Prahlada with complete knowledge of the scriptures.
स्मरण भक्ति द्वारा गोविंद राधे।
प्रह्लाद ने लक्ष्य पाया बता दे॥ ४०७०॥ (राधा गोविन्द गीत)
7. Never ask God for anything, if one does he is no less than a businessman.
यस्त आशिष आशास्ते न स भृत्यः स वै वणिक्॥ (भागवत 7.10.4)
Prahlada says, “O my Lord! A servant who asks for anything from his master is no servant; he is a mere businessman. The word servant implies doing service, the service of the Lord. A true servant engages selflessly in the service of his master. If he wishes to ask for something, he behaves like a master instead." Who can know our requirements better than the all-knowing omnipresent God, who is constantly watching sitting right inside us?
कामना ने तोहिं मारा गोविंद राधे।
तू भी कामनाओं को मारि के दिखा दे॥ ५२०४॥
मन को ऐसा बना गोविंद राधे।
कामना का कछु रहे काम ना बता दे॥ ५२०५॥
प्रह्लाद वर माँगा गोविंद राधे।
माँगने की मेरी कामना मिटा दे॥ ५२०६॥
हरि यदि पूछें का दें गोविंद राधे।
हरि को बता दे गोपीप्रेम दिला दें॥ ५२०७॥ (राधा गोविन्द गीत)
8. If one gives up all his desires, he equals God.
विमुञ्चति यदा कामान्मानवो मनसि स्थितान् ।
तर्ह्येव पुण्डरीकाक्ष भगवत्त्वाय कल्पते ॥ (भागवत 7.10.9)
जीव तो सदा ही गोविंद राधे।
माया ग्रह ते गृहीत है बता दे॥ ४१२७॥
कृष्णग्रह लगे जब गोविंद राधे।
माया ग्रह तब ही छोड़े बता दे॥ ४१२८॥
प्रह्लाद बालक गोविंद राधे।
कृष्णरूपीग्रह ते थे ग्रस्त बता दे॥ ४१२९॥ (राधा गोविन्द गीत)
9. Once a desire arises, it makes one insane. Such a person then resorts to telling lies and performing all sorts of sinful acts in order to fulfil his desire.
इन्द्रियाणि मनः प्राण आत्मा धर्मो धृतिर्मतिः।
ह्रीः श्रीस्तेज स्मृतिः सत्यं यस्य नश्यन्ति जन्मना॥ (भागवत 7.10.8)
“The growth of desires in the mind causes the destruction of all noble faculties of man – the strength of his senses, his mind, his vital energy, and of his body. He loses his sense of righteousness, determination, understanding, good fortune, modesty, prowess, memory, and adherence to truth.”
10. Only the mind is the doer and cause of all attachments. Internally Prahlada was a renunciate, but following God's instructions, he ruled for 306,720,000 years and carried out his worldly duties externally.
हरिभक्त हो के गोविंद राधे।
ध्रुव प्रह्लाद आदि राज्य करा दे॥ २०८१॥
नृसिंह प्रह्लाद ते गोविंद राधे।
एक मन्वन्तर तक राज्य करा दे॥ २०८२॥ (राधा गोविन्द गीत)
11 Nrisimha's avatar was the fourteenth incarnation of God.
चौदहवाँ तो है गोविंद राधे।
अवतार नरसिंह रूप बता दे॥ ६८८०॥ (राधा गोविन्द गीत)
Shri Maharaj Ji has elaborately and in very simple, lucid poetry revealed the secret of God's avatars in Radha Govind Geet.
जय जय नरसिंह अवतार की
जय जय प्रह्लाद कुमार की।
जय जय निज जन रखवार की
जय प्रेम ह्लादिनी सार की।
जय जय नर हरि सरकार की
जय जय भक्तन सरदार की।