Saturday, January 22, 2011

Temple President

I am a Temple President.

Before you congratulate me, so are you.

The great saints and sages explain that this body is a temple of Krishna who resides within as Paramatma, Supersoul. Not only that, but the body is made up of Krishna's material energy in the form of earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intelligence and false ego. This concept is just starting to settle in. I'm living in my master's house and am in charge of keeping it clean and fit as a proper residence for Him, cleaning it inside and out.

Externally, I wash this temple with soap and water, then apply sacred tilak decorations. Internally, I apply the cleaning agent of Sri Krishna's Holy Name, who is all pure, all powerful, all cleansing, to sanctify this temple's atmosphere, mind, and heart and make it a suitable sitting place for Sri Sri Radha-Shyamasundara. After engaging this mind, ears and tongue in hearing and chanting, I make the rounds and engage the rest of this body's senses in the service of Krishna... sa vai manah krishna padaravindayor.

I am a temple president. Who would have thought. Yikes!

References: Bhagavad-gita As It Is 9.11, purport:

"A devotee should see that because Krishna is present in everyone's heart as Paramatma, every body is the embodiment or the temple of the Supreme Lord; so as one offers respect to the temple of the Lord, he should similarly properly respect each and every body in which the Paramatma dwells."

As a point of interest, this concept is also taught in The Bible, 1 Cor. 3.16:

“Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple.”

And: 1 Cor. 6.19:  “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?”

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Don't waste time!

Srila Prabhupada repeatedly cautioned: "Don't waste time."

Lately I've been looking back at wasted time in my life, and it's renewed my determination to try to follow Srila Prabhupada's instruction.

Time is fleeting. Life is short. What use is my voice when it is not engaged in singing the kirtan of Sri Hari? (publicly in kirtan, or privately in japa)

Don't waste time, foolish mind. Take full shelter of Sri Harinama now.

Every moment spent uselessly now will be regretted later, as we look back on wasted time in our lives. "Vishaya chadiya..." we will lament that we were knowingly drinking poison when we could have been drinking nectar.

Today we are in the prime of our youth, in a human body with the ability to chant. (We could be in a cockroach's body!) We still have energy and enthusiasm. Let us utilize our bodies as an offering to Sri Hari. If we keep ourselves always in the company of the names of Sri Sri Radha-Krishna, while walking, sleeping, cooking, shopping, walking about this world... then Their glory, brilliance, beauty, all-attractiveness will shine through us and we can act as transparent via-mediums, attracting other conditioned souls back to the shelter of Sri Radha and Sri Hari, and His transcendental flute playing.

(Late breaking news: Sri Krishna's flute playing incarnates in this age of Kali as the Hare Krishna Maha-mantra. We can tune into the transcendental sound vibration of Krishna's flute by constantly keeping the sound vibration of the Hare Krishna Maha-mantra on our tongues, in our minds and hearts.)

Euphoria and Mantra-meditation

Some years ago, after a particularly energetic kirtan session, an older woman approached me and asked what she was supposed to have experienced. "You were chanting the same mantra over and over for about half an hour. Was I supposed to enter into a state of trance or euphoria?"

"Yes," was my simple answer, and I began to explain what we, as yogis, do when we enter that sacred inner space of samadhi through mantra mediation.

If you're a God-conscious person you may have already come across mantra meditation in various forms. Catholics chanting repetitive Hail Marys on rosary beads. Muslims repeating Allahu Akhbar, God is great, over and over, several times a day in contemplative meditation. Buddhists chanting "Om Mani Padme Hum" until that mantra merges into the very existence of their being. You may have heard about the name for God in the Jewish tradition that comes from the sound of our in- and outgoing breath, "Yah-weh!" Our conscious breathing of "Yah-weh" reminds us of the ever-present existence of a higher power. The 13th Century Indian saint Madhvacharya noted that every human being unconsciously chants the sacred sound "Hum-sah" 26,000 times a day... that's counting our average in- and outgoing breaths. "Hum-sah, hum-sah, hum-sah..." one of many sacred names for God in Hinduism, along the same lines as the Jewish "Yah-weh."

Sacred mantras are meant to bring us into a peaceful, meditative space by repeating sacred sounds, mantras, over and over. Setting the religious context aside for a moment, let's just look at this process on a purely bio-mechanistic level. We may or may not believe in a higher spiritual power, so what's going on in our bodies, physically, when we chant?

The effect mantras have on our psyche, biorhythms and physical bodies is much like the effect produced by repetitive sounds in nature.

Think of laying on the sands of a tropical beach, where you settle into the rhythm of the ocean's waves coming and going, crashing gently around you. The repetition of the sound of surging waves relaxes our bodies and puts us in a peaceful state of mind.

Think of a baby cuddled in the arms of its mother. The baby hears the mother's reassuring heartbeat, or her in- and outgoing breath, or the background murmur of her speaking in a language the baby doesn't yet understand. The mother may gently rock the baby back and forth, side to side, and these repetitive sounds and motions give the baby an existential sense of comfort, peace, and calm.

Think of sitting in a sun-kissed forest glade, listening to the chirping of the birds and the rustling of leaves in the trees, moved by the gently blowing wind. What effect does this scene have on us as human beings?

Mantras, experienced on a purely mechanical level, are meditation tools that calm the noisy chatter of our minds and allow us to enter a deep state of relaxation, while, at the same time (if we're well rested and wide awake), allowing us to experience a heightened sense of awareness of our immediate surroundings. We're able to "be here now," as Baba Ram Dass put it in the 60s, focused on the present, experiencing the simple joys of each moment. When we're fully aware of the moment, living in the present, we automatically neglect our mind's other paradigms of hankering for some pleasure in the future, or lamenting over opportunities missed in the past.

Mantras can bring us to a meditative state reducing stress and anxiety. And who doesn't want less stress, less anxiety? Some yogis say that true wealth in this world is "peace of mind," and mantras are made for that. In Sanskrit, the ancient language of the mantras, "man" means mind, and "tra" means to deliver or uplift our mind from everyday, mundane anxieties.

Now add to that the feeling of pleasure we get from being a part of a synergistic effort greater than ourselves: a group of people singing mantras together, dancing together, and having a good time.

Think of the uplifting feeling we may get in a church where a large group of people sing together in unison. Or the feelings we may experience at a rock concert, singing and dancing with thousands of people all tuned into the same song, melody and rhythm. We may feel a heightened sense of belonging, connectedness, happiness, singing and dancing together.

That sounds pretty good so far, doesn't it? Reduce stress and anxiety. Feel happy singing and dancing together. And we're still only talking about the bio-mechanical benefits of chanting mantras.

In a few minutes we'll dive right into the experience of chanting some powerful mantras together.
Let's now come back to the spiritual, metaphysical benefits. What are the more subtle benefits of chanting mantras?

Sacred mantras have been passed on to us from saints and sages who have experimented with and chanted these mantras for generations, spanning thousands of years, and who have achieved various states of enlightenment and spiritual awareness by doing so. These mantras are like fine-tuned precision tools, tweaked to perfection, that help us get from one state of consciousness to another in a short amount of time. Spiritual people, after all, such as yogis, saints and sages, are interested in raising our consciousness from the mundane to the spiritual, from base to sublime, from matter to spirit. And what are the tangible benefits?

When we come together on a spiritual level, it's all about raising consciousness, raising awareness. The more we become aware of the existence of an eternal spirit soul within all of us, and of a Supreme Spirit Soul in nature and the universe all around us, the more we become aware of our part in the grand scheme of a higher power, the more we feel that wonderful sense of comfort and peace a baby feels in its mother's arms. We realize that we are, in fact, always in the arms of that Supreme Spirit, guided and carried by It, a part and parcel of It, and eternally related to all spirit souls around us. We begin to feel a sense of deep unity, harmony and connectedness with our fellow brothers and sisters on this planet, with all of life, humans, animals, plants, and with nature and the universe. Sacred mantras can bring us to that space in a short amount of time–and what a healing, healthy space that can be.

Consider this. Imagine if everyone in the world stopped fighting over trivial differences–be that differences of race, religion, skin color, gender or ethnicity–because we all of a sudden realized that we are inter-related, dependent on each other, sharing this small planet, and charged with a responsibility as fellow human beings to live peacefully side by side, stewards of this earth, brothers and sisters coming from a common origin? Think about it. There would be no more wars. There would be no more violence and fighting if we were able to raise the consciousness of human beings to that level of maturity.

Sacred mantras have the power to raise our consciousness to such a sublime, transcendental reality. When we absorb ourselves in chanting sacred mantras, we can transcend petty differences that divide us as humans. It no longer matters that one of our brothers is white, or black, or red, or yellow, or brown. It no longer matters that some of us come from a Christian faith, or Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, animist, agnostic or atheist. There is no need to change our faith or religion. Anyone can chant these mantras and realize that we are fundamentally inter-connected as a human race. Whether you look at it mechanistically, considering our common DNA heritage as documented by modern science–or you add the spiritual dimension. What matters is that we are all in this together, seven billion people on this planet. No man is an island. As the French philosopher Chardin put it, "we are spiritual beings having a human experience"–together.

Now, with your permission, let us dive deep into the experiential part of this session. Let's practice mantra meditation together and experience its effects first-hand. Are you ready to try this experiment?

1) Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya (Notes: explain the meaning, briefly, and chant it with the audience.)

2) Hare Krishna Maha-mantra - leading into kirtana  (Notes: explain primordial sound - Krishna's Flute - Om - Gayatri Mantra, in this age manifest as the Maha-mantra. Like the cry of a baby for its mother, the longing of the soul for its Supreme Mother and Father. Like baby birds crying for their parent birds to feed them. Like a baby calf mooing, longing for the nurturing milk from the udder of its mother cow. Like the forlorn calls of a lover for her beloved who has gone far away... "The soul's cry" in existential terms, our constant companion sound vibration. Tuning into the Maha-mantra is like tuning into the eternal love song of the Divine, the murmur of existence proper, the combined songs and symphony of nature. The Divine Couple, we learn from the great saints and sages, are non-different from Their divine sound vibration form. We connect with the primordial sound of the universe through the Maha-mantra. Like tuning into a radio message, chanting the Maha-mantra allows us to keep in constant connection with this invigorating, spiritual energy that comes to us directly from the spiritual world.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Bhagavad-gita FATE Exhibit (transcript)

Setting the Stage

5000 years ago, at an ancient battlefield near what is now New Delhi, India, armies representing kingdoms from all over the world assembled for the greatest trial of arms in history. A family dispute over the throne had developed into a world-wide conflict between righteousness and tyranny.

Here between opposing armies, with friends and relatives on both sides, seeing brothers armed against brothers, the saintly Arjuna discloses his anguish to his intimate friend, who has assumed the role of Arjuna's chariot driver.

Arjuna: "Oh Krishna, seeing my friends and relatives present on both sides and ready to lay down their lives, my whole body is trembling, my mind is reeling. It would be better for the enemy to kill me, unarmed and unresisting, than for me to fight with them."

Krishna: "Oh Arjuna, give up such petty weakness of heart and arise, oh protector of the righteous."

Arjuna: "How can I fight these men? I prefer to live by begging than at the cost of their lives. Even though they are avaricious, I shall not fight!"

"Now I have lost all composure because of weakness. Now I surrender unto You, as your disciple. Please instruct me."

Krishna: "While speaking saintly words, you are mourning for what is not worthy of grief. Those who are truly wise lament neither for the living nor the dead. Never was there a time when I did not exist, nor you, nor all these kings. Nor in the future shall any of us cease to be. The soul is unborn, eternal, ever-existing, undying and primeval."

Narrator: "And thus, Krishna begins to explain the first instruction of the Bhagavad-gita: that the perishable body and the eternal soul are not the same.

Changing Bodies

Who are you? First, look at yourself. Look at your hands. Go ahead, have a good look. Are you your hand? Are you your face? Are you your body? Are you your mind?

Are you the center of the universe? Or merely a tiny, insignificant creature in a remote corner of creation? These questions have challenged mankind's greatest thinkers since the dawn of civilization.

We are surrounded by material elements. These are the same elements that make up the bodies of all living creatures. And then there is mind, intelligence and ego. And beyond all that, consciousness. This is not material; it is the soul.

By nature's invincible laws, each soul passes through progressively higher species of life, until it inhabits a human form.

The soul cannot be measured with any scientific instrument. Yet, this minute non-material entity, the soul, is so powerful, that it unceasingly activates each body throughout its entire lifetime. This tiny little spark of life thus moves from one body to another. This is called reincarnation.

It is not difficult to understand. Even in our own life we live in different bodies. Medical science has demonstrated that all of our cells are replaced every seven years, including even the brain.

On the battlefield, Krishna tells Arjuna:

"As the embodied soul continually passes in this body from childhood to youth to old age, the soul likewise passes into another body at death. ... The self-realized soul is not bewildered by such a change."

And there you are, the soul with a human body, and the chance to break through the cycle of birth and death.

The Precarious Condition of the Embodied Soul

Here we see the precarious condition of the embodied soul. The Bhagavad-gita gives us this illustration to help us understand in more detail the relationship between the body and the soul.

The horses are the senses: sight, smell, taste, touch and hearing. The reigns are the mind. The driver is the intelligence, and the passenger is the soul. In most cases, the soul does not control the intelligence, which in turn becomes bewildered and cannot firmly guide the mind. The mind, like the slackened reigns, does not control the senses, which become wild. This is happening to us every day, when the senses are irresistibly drawn to the sense objects. Thus the soul is forced into dangerous and unpredictable states of consciousness.

Choices on the Path of Life

Man can control his destiny. As a spiritual being, he can choose, by the expression of his free will, his path of life.

If he chooses to descend the staircase in pursuit of temporary and flickering objects of the senses, external forces take control of him, and his free will becomes severely restricted. He comes under the law of karma. Karma is the subtle but stringent law of action and reaction which operates even in the realm of consciousness. Under that law, the consciousness of one on the downward path degenerates to become like that of an animal. Such a person reincarnates after death into lower than human life forms. This is the result of misuse of free will.

The upward path begins with the acceptance of spiritual guidance, and leads to the ultimate liberation of the soul from the bodily concept of life. Such a person perceives his pure soul and its relationship with God.

Equal Vision of the Sages

Ordinarily, we see all around us many diverse forms of life. However, a person on the spiritual path sees the soul, not the body, as the real self of every living being. The soul, which is by nature full of bliss and knowledge, is an emanation from the supreme soul, present along with the soul. The supreme soul becomes visible to the eyes of a sage. This higher perception was exemplified and taught by all seers of the truth such as Moses, Buddha, Christ, and Mohammed.

The sage who thus is freed from physical repulsion and attraction, sees all living beings with equal vision and becomes a genuine lover of the universe.

Who is that supreme soul who is within all creatures as the in-dwelling guide, witness, maintainer, and ultimate friend? Who is that who is situated within all things, and yet everything resides in Him?

Krishna's Transcendental Manifestations

The localized expansion of the supreme soul is a spiritual reflection of Krishna. In His original form, Krishna resides eternally in His own transcendental realm called Goloka. He assumes varieties of spiritually perfect forms and appears in the physical universe to curb the rise of materialism and tyranny, which obstruct the spiritual progress of humanity. He does this in many different ways, which are always good and just.

Matsya appears at the time of the great inundation.

Kurma, who prevented the demonic rulers from gaining dangerous powers.

Varaha challenged the vicious giant Hiranyaksha.

Narasimha annihilated Hiranyakashipu, the great oppressor of the innocent.

Vamana, who saved the world from the despot Bali.

Parashurama, the warrior priest who drove out the brutal martial class.

Rama, exemplifying a perfect monarch, who sacrificed His own happiness to uphold the principles of righteousness.

Krishna appeared Himself to display His unsurpassed, celebrated pastimes of love with His devotees.

Buddha, the royal prince who renounced His kingdom and taught religious principles in the form of non-violence.

Kalki, still to come, will herald the change of universal time.

God's Universal Form

Arjuna: "My dear Krishna, I know you dwell in the heart of every living being as the Supersoul, and that You manifest Yourself in many different incarnations. Though I see You here before me, I wish to know how You pervade this entire cosmic manifestation. If you think that I am able to behold this truth, kindly reveal it to me."

Krishna: "My dear Arjuna, you cannot see this universal self with your present eyes. Therefore, I now give you divine eyes."

"Behold My mystic opulences, which no one has ever seen or heard before. You will see that everything is contained within Me."

Arjuna: "Oh Krishna, I see within You all living beings. I see Brahma sitting on the divine lotus. I see Shiva, many sages, celestial serpents. I see many forms, bellies, mouths, eyes expanded without limit.

You are inexhaustible. You are the origin, without beginning, middle or end. You are spread throughout the sky, the planets, and all space between.

Oh universal Lord, I am losing my equilibrium. Seeing your radiant colors fill the sky and beholding Your eyes and mouths, I am afraid.

I see all life flowing from you, and rushing back with great speed into Your divine form. Covering the entire universe with your immeasurable rays, scorching the world, You are manifest.

Oh Lord of Lords, please tell me who you are in this fierce form. Please be gracious to me. I desire to know your purpose."

Krishna: "Time I am, the mighty destiny. I have come to change all things."

"Oh Arjuna, behold My mystic plan. Through My own wisdom and love the souls of this world ever journey towards their supreme destination, Me, who am the reservoir of all pleasure.

Arjuna: "Oh unbounded power, You are the father of this complete cosmic manifestation. No one can be greater than You, or equal to You. Although I am glad that You have shown me this form, yet fear disturbs me. Please bestow Your grace on me. Reveal again Your original form, oh abode of the universe!"

Krishna: "Let this horrible feature be finished. With a peaceful mind, you can now see My original form which is so dear to you."

"Oh Arjuna, only by undivided devotion can I be known as I am. Thus you can see me directly, sitting before you. Only in this way can you enter into the mysteries of understanding Me."

Ocean of Birth and Death

Imagine yourself adrift in the midst of the vast ocean. Even if you were the world's greatest swimmer, you would eventually drown, unless someone came to your rescue.

The material world is compared to a vast ocean, an ocean of birth and death. Souls trapped in this world cannot free themselves from the continuing cycle of birth and death. But they can be freed by the process of yoga.

Yoga means union with the supreme. This is the stage beyond all anxieties. Thus, the soul perfectly linked with the supreme soul through devotion is at once rescued from repeated birth and death by the mercy of Krishna.

Lord Chaitanya's Sankirtan Festival

According to Bhagavad-gita, Krishna descends in many forms and places. Here in Bengal, in the latter part of the 15th century, Krishna descended in the form of Lord Chaitanya. By His personal example, He delivered the essence of Bhagavad-gita, loving devotional service to God, or Bhakti-yoga, the most practical means of achieving self-realization in the present age. He inaugurated the Sankirtan Movement, chanting the Holy Names of Krishna.

Wherever Lord Chaitanya led His sankirtan festival, spontaneous love of God and profound spiritual knowledge blossomed in the hearts of the people. But Sri Chaitanya's compassionate concern for humanity was not limited to India. Thus, He made it easy for everyone to break through the cycle of birth and death, causing the ocean of love of God to overflow throughout the world, and now reach the shores of America.

Goloka - the Spiritual Realm

In the Bhagavad-gita, Krishna promises that whoever perfectly and constantly meditates on Him, will ultimately come to Him. This is the highest evolution of the liberated soul: direct relationship with Krishna in His own planet.

This is Goloka, the spiritual realm. Here, in Krishna's abode, all water is nectar, every word is a song, and every step a dance.

Far from formless, the spiritual world is the origin of all form, emanating from the supreme form, Krishna. All forms here are eternal, fully conscious, and blissful.

Krishna is the original form, and the human form is the reflection of that form.

Here, standing on the bank of the Jamuna River with the exquisitely beautiful Radha at His side, Krishna smiles and plays His enchanting flute. He appears as the central attractive figure enjoying varieties of divine loving exchange with the whole spiritual world.

Every entity in the spiritual world, regardless of its particular form, enjoys full loving reciprocation with Krishna.

When the devotees, peacocks, swans, and all other living beings hear the sound of Krishna's transcendental flute, they swoon in ecstasy, and tears of love fall from their eyes.

All souls are potentially capable of reaching this state of love of God, and Krishna promises to help those who long for it. Those souls who follow the path of Bhakti yoga, devotional meditation, will at last evolve their original spiritual bodies.

All of us are parts of the supreme soul, Krishna, who is everlastingly beckoning us to return to His eternal abode.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Krishna's Wishlist

Sri Krishna expresses what He wants Arjuna to do, and all other parts and parcels of Him (like me), in the verses of His transcendental song, the Bhagavad-gita.

"Krishna consciousness is acting according to Krishna's order."  (Bhagavad-gita, 18.73 purport)

I'm starting to collect a list of Krishna's wishes so I can try to fulfill them.

Krishna's Wishlist

4:34: "Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized souls can impart knowledge unto you because they have seen the truth."

18.65: "Always think of Me, become My devotee, worship Me and offer your homage to Me. Thus you will come to Me without fail. I promise you this because you are My very dear friend."

Purport by Srila Prabhupada: "The most confidential part of knowledge is that one should become a pure devotee of Krishna and always think of Him and act for Him. One should not become an official meditator. Life should be so molded that one will always have the chance to think of Krishna. One should act in such a way that all his daily activities are in connection with Krishna. He should arrange his life in such a way that throughout the twenty-four hours he cannot but think of Krishna. And the Lord's promise is that anyone who is in such pure Krishna consciousness will certainly return to the abode of Krishna, where he will be engaged in the association of Krishna face to face. .. Everyone who follows the path of Arjuna can become a dear friend to Krishna and obtain the same perfection as Arjuna. .. Concentration of the mind on the form of Krishna constitutes the most confidential part of knowledge."

18:66: "Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me."

Purport: ".. Anything that does not lead to the perfectional stage of Krishna consciousness should be avoided. One should be confident that in all circumstances Krishna will protect him from all difficulties. There is no need of thinking how one should keep the body and soul together. Krishna will see to that. One should always think himself helpless and should consider Krishna the only basis for his progress in life."

18:68-70: "For one who explains this supreme secret to the devotees, pure devotional service is guaranteed, and at the end he will come back to Me. There is no servant in this world more dear to Me than he, nor will there ever be one more dear. One who studies this conversation of ours worships Me by his intelligence."

Krishna's wishlist as Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu:

Trinad api sunicena... be more humble than a blade of grass in the street, more tolerant than a tree, devoid of all sense of false prestige (honor), and ready to offer all respects to others. In such a state of mind, chant the holy names of the Lord constantly.

Kirtaniya sadah harih... Chant Hare Krishna always, incessantly, without any other motive than to please Krishna.

Yare dekha tare kaha krsna-upadesa: wherever you go, whomever you meet, give them Lord Krishna's message.  (Cc. Madhya 7.128)

Prthivite ache yata nagaradi grama sarvatra pracara haibe mora nama: In every town and village, the chanting of My name will be heard." (Caitanya-bhagavata, Antya 4.126)

Purport: .. The followers of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu may therefore take this movement seriously and broadcast it throughout the world, from village to village and from town to town, just as Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu Himself did." (Cc, Madhya, 25.264)

The bottom line: Take up Krishna consciousness and distribute it to everyone you meet.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Water on a Lotus Leaf

kamala dala jala, jivana tala mala... Life is tottering, like a drop of water on a lotus leaf, sings Govinda Dasa in Bhaja hu re mana.

Looking at the same picture, the materialist sees dollar signs, nano coatings, The Lotus Effect. Wonder cure to improve life in the material world. "You'll never have to clean again!" Non-stick windshields, clothing, furniture, cooking utensils.

The sage observes little drops of water, dancing precariously on a lotus leaf. Life's like that.

...bhajahu hari-pada niti re. Therefore let me always serve
the lotus feet of Lord Hari.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Cooked by Time

Lord Yamaraja, disguised as a Yaksha, once asked Maharaja Yudhisthira: ‘What is the most wonderful thing within this world?

Maharaja Yudhisthira replied:

ahany ahani bhutani gacchantiha yamalayam
sheshah sthavaram icchanti kim ashcaryam atah param

“Hundreds and thousands of living entities meet death at every moment, but a foolish living being nonetheless thinks himself deathless and does not prepare for death. This is the most wonderful thing in this world.”

Yamaraja inquired further: Who in this world is happy?

Yudhisthira: He who is neither in debt nor exiled and who lives simply, eating simple food in his own home, is happy.

Yamaraja:  What are the tidings [news] of this world?

Yudhisthira:  The tidings are that in this world–—which is like a cauldron with the sun as its fire, days and nights as its fuel, and months and seasons as its wooden ladle—all creatures are being cooked by time.

Yamaraja: How can one find the eternal path of religion?

Yudhisthira: The eternal religious path is found only in the heart of great mystics.

Yamaraja: What makes the soul rise out of his entanglement in matter? Who keeps him company, who is his guide on that spiritual journey, and on what is he established?
Yudhisthira: It is knowledge of the Supreme Lord which makes the soul rise. Godly qualities are his companions, dharma is his guide, and he is established on truth.

Yamaraja: What makes one learned? How does one attain to that which is most exalted? How does one acquire a second self, and by what, O King, does one become wise?

Yudhisthira: One becomes learned by studying the Vedas. By asceticism one attains what is most exalted. Intelligence is like a second self, and serving one’s elders makes one wise.

(Mahabharata, Vana-parva 313.116)

The beautiful Srimad-Bhagavatam offers the following solace: (SB 2.3.17)

ayur harati vai pumsam
udyann astam ca yann asau
tasyarte yat-kshano nita

Both by rising and by setting, the sun decreases the duration of life of everyone, except one who utilizes the time by discussing topics of the all-good Personality of Godhead.

Purport by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada:

This verse indirectly confirms the greater importance of utilizing the human form of life to realize our lost relationship with the Supreme Lord by acceleration of devotional service. Time and tide wait for no man. So the time indicated by the sunrise and the sunset will be uselessly wasted if such time is not properly utilized for realizing identification of spiritual values. Even a fraction of the duration of life wasted cannot be compensated by any amount of gold. Human life is simply awarded to a living entity (jiva) so that he can realize his spiritual identity and his permanent source of happiness. A living being, especially the human being, is seeking happiness because happiness is the natural situation of the living entity. But he is vainly seeking happiness in the material atmosphere. A living being is constitutionally a spiritual spark of the complete whole, and his happiness can be perfectly perceived in spiritual activities. The Lord is the complete spirit whole, and His name, form, quality, pastimes, entourage and personality are all identical with Him. Once a person comes into contact with any one of the above-mentioned energies of the Lord through the proper channel of devotional service, the door to perfection is immediately opened. In the Bhagavad-gita (2.40) the Lord has explained such contact in the following words: "Endeavors in devotional service are never baffled. Nor is there failure. A slight beginning of such activities is sufficient even to deliver a person from the great ocean of material fears." As a highly potent drug injected intravenously acts at once on the whole body, the transcendental topics of the Lord injected through the ear of the pure devotee of the Lord can act very efficiently. Aural realization of the transcendental messages implies total realization, just as fructification of one part of a tree implies fructification of all other parts. This realization for a moment in the association of pure devotees like Shukadeva Gosvami prepares one's complete life for eternity. And thus the sun fails to rob the pure devotee of his duration of life, inasmuch as he is constantly busy in the devotional service of the Lord, purifying his existence. Death is a symptom of the material infection of the eternal living being; only due to material infection is the eternal living entity subjected to the law of birth, death, old age and disease.

.. The ultimate end of Vedic knowledge is realization of the Personality of Godhead, Lord Krishna, as stated in the Bhagavad-gita (vedais ca sarvair aham eva vedyah [Bg. 15.15]). .. A moment passed in the association of a pure devotee by hearing and chanting the transcendental messages of the Lord is a perfect guarantee for eternal life, for returning home, back to Godhead. Mad-dhama gatva punar janma na vidyate. In other words, a devotee of the Lord is guaranteed eternal life. A devotee's old age or disease in the present life is but an impetus to such guaranteed eternal life.