Why and how to perform the Shradh Ceremony?

Why and how to perform the Shradh Ceremony?

In Srimad Bhagvatam, it is mentioned that
“Devarṣi-bhūtāpta-nṛṇāṁ pitṝṇāṁ
na kiṅkaro nāyam ṛṇī ca rājan
sarvātmanā yaḥ śaraṇaṁ śaraṇyaṁ
gato mukundaṁ parihṛtya kartam” (SB 11.5.41)
Every human being is obliged and has an obligation? We are under whose obligation? Demigods – Sun God, He gives us heat and light; moon nourishes our eatables and like that Indra, Chandra, Surya, Brihaspati, they all are demigods and are supplying. They are supplying and they don’t send bill for what they are supplying so we are indebted to them.
We are obliged to cow and ox. Ox is tilting the ground and cow is giving us milk, butter, butter milk, ghee, etc. Mother Cow is nurturing us so we are under obligation to cow and ox.
We are indebted to our forefathers also. Why? because they not only brought us to this human form of life which is very rare and valuable but also nourished us, nurtured us. They provided us food, clothing and education so we are indebted to them.
Those who are cent percent surrendered and are serving Krishna, they are not under any obligation of “devarṣi-bhūtāpta-nṛṇāṁ pitṝṇāṁ na kiṅkaro nāyam ṛṇī ca rājan”. Why? Because they are surrendered and are serving Krishna. “Sarvātmanā”, the king is dependent on Krishna, demigods are dependent on Krishna and everybody else. Just by supplying food to the stomach, we automatically nourish our hands, nose, ear, whole body so simultaneously, serving Krishna, “sarvātmanā yaḥ śaraṇaṁ śaraṇyaṁ”, by surrendering to Krishna we pay up our debt.
Why perform Shradh Ceremony?
So that we can relieve our ancestors from the hellish conditions, suffering condition.
If we are not cent percent surrendered to Krishna then we must perform Shradh. Lord Ramchandra did, he performed for Dashrath Maharaj, pinda daan. There was no question of Dashrath Maharaj going to hellish conditions because Lord Ramchandra was his direct son. It is the greatest fortune to have Krishna as your son, God as your son, Dashrath Maharaj will never suffer from hellish conditions, go to hell, even then Lord Ramchandra performed shradh. Lord Chaitanya is God himself, he also went to Gaya to perform Shradh Ceremony for his departed father, Jagannath Misra. So if we are not cent percent surrendered then we must perform Shradh Ceremony to pay up our debt to our forefathers, to relieve them from their hellish conditions.
How to perform Shradh?
It is stated in Srimad Bhagvatam that one must call pure brahman and perform the ceremony. One must cook sumptuous, beautiful, tasty, rich prasadam and that one has to offer to Lord Vishnu. This is written in Srimad Bhagvatam that first one must offer it Krishna, Vishnu, Ram, Narayan, Laxman and then one must offer to the Brahmans. When Advaita Acharya performed Shradh Ceremony of his father, first, he offered to a vaishnava, not even brahmans and Srila Haridasa Thakur was the most exalted vaishnava present there; He was a Muslim, he was not within varnashrama even, not even a brahman but a pure vaishnava. After offering to the Lord, one must offer to the vaishnavas, then one must offer to brahmans and then to one’s relatives, after that one is supposed to offer to people in general, beggars and after everything is over, one is supposed to honour that prasadam and give dakshina to brahmans, vaishnavas, the best donation is to vaishnavas. One should do it with faith and that will relieve one’s ancestors from the pangs of maya, suffering.
First Quantity Then Quality !!

First Quantity Then Quality !!

If we chant attentively, then we will be able to relish the transcendental love of Krishna, that transcendental mellow. Just like if we are a very big businessman, having zillions of dollars worth factory somewhere and it is burned to ashes, somebody calls us and says, “Sir, the factory is on fire.” We will be in so much anxiety and at that same time we are also very hungry, very very hungry, almost dying and we want to eat. When we eat, there is anxiety, all our attention, our mind and everything is in the factory and we are eating. So our belly will be full but we would not be able to experience the taste of different, nice and tasty items. We would not be able to taste them because our mind is somewhere else, into our factory, so our belly will be full but that transcendental mellow, we would not be able to relish.

Similarly, if we chant, the sins will be gone as sure as death. If we chant, it will do good to us from every respect but if we want to relish the transcendental, loving exchange between Krishna and us, then we must put our mind onto his Holy name. We should just say Hare Krishna and hear that name because name and Krishna, personality is non-different.
“Abhinattva nama naamino, nama and namino,” Krishna and the Holy name are non-different, so it will do good to us. If we chant inattentively, we will not be able to derive full benefit, that is why one must put his mind onto chanting and the easiest method, Krishna is prescribing, “Wherever our mind is running, we see his activity and bring him back like that.”

“Abhyāsena tu kaunteya vairāgyeṇa,” detachment from the material world and constant practice, then the mind will focus.

So it is important but in the beginning stage, if we are not able to chant, then Srila Prabhupada says, “First quantity then quality.” Quality will come if we keep chanting, sooner or later offences will be stopped but the secret of success is to keep chanting. Not that we are not able to concentrate and let us stop. If it is not attentive then also we should chant. The idea is to chant and then when we become mature and with practice, this mind will be always there.

If we develop some attachment or some love for somebody, then the mind is always there, when we develop some love for chanting and for Lord Krishna, then our mind would to that. So it is the way and the means, we must do quantity first and then the quality will come. Srila Prabhupada says the secret of success, 90% of success will come from chanting the Holy name, Hare Krishna Mahamantra and He also says that the first and the foremost important instruction of the Spiritual Master is that one must chant 16 rounds a day .

Srila Prabhupada said, “Our first business in a day is to chant our rounds.”
This is a very important instruction of a Spiritual Master, therefore, one must chant Hare Krishna Mahamantra.

How can we control our mind

How can we control our mind

It is very very very difficult. I would advice you to chant Hare Krishna mantra even without your mind. Arjuna says
vayor iva su-duskaram
Krishna says can you control the wind? Wind is blowing, hurricane, tornado? Can you control Tornado?
vayor iva su-duskaram
It is more difficult to control mind than this tornado and hurricane. Our process is not to control, let it do whatever it wants to do. We will do what we want to do and let him do what he wants to do and slowly and gradually mind will understand that let me accompany him. He is going to the temple and I want to go to the movie. Okay, I won’t go to the movie, so you go temple and mind you go to movie, I don’t care and you go the temple.
Many many ways you can control the mind but it’s not worth it. You take cold cold shower in January in your apartment and mind will be immediately under your control. Can you do that? In scorching heat, can you put fire around you and sit down in the middle? Mind will be controlled. Don’t try to control mind, try to chant Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare.
Agyaanaat bhava gyaana
uttam sloka naam yat
sankirtan madam pumso
deho dehinaam yasha analah
If you chant the holy name, holy name will do good to you.
Agyaanaat bhava gyaana
Unknowingly you chant the holy name, still it will do good to you Ajamila unknowingly chanted the holy name of Krishna, Narayana and immediately Narayan duta came. So mind has no function in devotion, yes, it has if you put your mind in devotion it is best.
man-mana bhava mad-bhakto
But don’t try, it will come. Like, I used to control my mind but not anymore and mind doesn’t go anywhere. If I want to focus on holyname, it is there. If I want to focus on someone it is there. It has become my friend. So mind will become your friend.
bandhur ātmātmanas tasya
yenātmaivātmanā jitaḥ
Just discard, just don’t give any importance to the mind.

Surrender to Krishna

Surrender to Krishna

Bhaktivinoda Thakura describes 6 kinds of surrender, he says –

“anukulyasya sankalpah pratikulyasya vajranam
raksisyatiti visvaso goptrtve varanam tatha
atma-niksepa – karpanye sad-vidha saranagati. ”

There are 6 kinds of saranagati. “anukulyasya sankalpah”, whatever is favourable to Krishna and to execute Krishna Consciousness, we must accept that immediately.
In order to stretch this saranagati, the second word he is saying is just the opposite, “pratikulyasya varjanam”.
“pratikulyasya varjanam”, means which is not favourable. “Pratikul”, to execute Krishna Consciousness, to render service to Krishna or a devotee. Whatever is “pratikul”, whatever is not conducive for spiritual life and spiritual subject matter, we must give that up immediately.
So this in itself is a very very high level of surrender to Krishna.
Just imagine a husband and a wife, if wife gives up everything that husband doesn’t like and wife accepts everything or does everything that husband likes. Imagine how elevated that couple will become.
On the contrary, if wife does exactly the opposite of what husband wants and wife doesn’t accept everything that husband likes and rejects everything that he likes.
Same thing with husband, he doesn’t do, what wife likes and does what wife doesn’t like. What kind of surrender it is on both parts?
So surrendering to Krishna means we must accept everything that He likes, immediately,without waiting for a second and we should reject everything that He doesn’t like, immediately.
So this is called surrender, “ anukulyasya sankalpah  pratikulyasya varjanam”.
The third saranagati, Bhaktivinoda Thakur describes is “raksisyatiti visvaso”, to have full confidence, full faith that Krishna will protect me under all circumstances. This is Krishna’s promise to His devotees.
“Kaunteya pratijanahi na me bhakta pranasyati”.
“Hey Arjuna, boldly declare that my devotees , they never perish. ”
So “ goptrtve varanam tatha”, “That Krishna is my guardian, provider, He will provide me everything.” He is providing to rakshas, He is providing to animals in jungle, definitely He will provide to His devotees.
So to have a strong faith that Krishna, He will provide, that is “goptrtve varanam tatha”.
And last one is “atma-niksepa”. Last but not the least, “atma-niksepa”, means consigning everything that belongs to us.
There is a very good example of Bali Maharaj, he gave everything to Krishna, including himself. He gave the kingdom of the whole universe, not just Earth planet to Vamadev, who is Krishna. In turn what Krishna did, Krishna became so indebted, became so obliged that He became Bali Maharaj ‘s security guard. Such is the attitude of Krishna towards His devotees, who totally surrender to Him.
Even Gopis, Gopis were totally surrendered,
“Manasa deho geho yo kichu mor, apilu tuya pade nanda kishor”
Anything and everything that Gopis had, Gopis consigned that to Krishna.
So Krishna protects, He gives Himself to His devotees. And Krishna says to the Gopis – “I cannot repay the debt to you, you have given me everything.”
Krishna got defeated for eternity, He becomes sold out to Gopis. Krishna remains indebted to Gopis for eternity, He could never repay the debt of the Gopis. Why? Because Gopis did “atma-niksepa”, they consigned everything to Krishna.
Lord Ramchandra told Hanuman that even if I try to repay you for your love and devotion to me, I can never do that.
So this saranagatih, “atma-niksepa – karpanye”.
“Karpanye” means utmost humility. Humility means- “ I am spirit soul and my only duty is to serve Krishna and nothing else.” This is utmost humility.
So to offer that to Krishna is saranagatih.
One of the saranagatih, if not all, is good enough to surrender to Krishna.
This is called surrender and how to surrender to Krishna.

Success in Brahmachari life

Success in Brahmachari life

There is no difficulty in Brahmachari life if you have staunch faith in the process, in Bhakti, in association of devotees, in serving Lord, serving Guru and serving Sadhus. Srila Prabhupada says that if you can do your laundry and he said that if you can control urges of sex then there is no difficulty. So, we have to become firmly fixed in Krishna Consciousness, ‘no matter what this is my decision today and I’m going to stick to it and I want to remain in Brahmacharya Ashram and that’s my life and I’m not going to budge’. Utsaahat nischyaaat dhairyaata, strong determination like Bhishma deva, he took a strong vow with strong determination. He vowed that he’ll remain brahmachari throughout his life, bhishma pratigya. ‘Bhishma’ means with strong determination you take a vow. So, first you need to fix your mind totally thinking that I want to practice celibacy just for one life, in other life whatsoever happens but this life I want to practice celibacy, and then you will negate the association of two things, that is, women and money, honey and money. You’ve to refrain from them quite a bit then it will be very easy but if you mingle with these two things then definitely, a brahmachari will have to get into Grahasta ashram, so it is the determination, strong determination and refraining from two things then it is very easy. You save so much headache to yourself. So much headache, wife’s burden then, jobs, earning and then children and children’s education and marrying children. Any cat and dog does all these activities. What is different in human beings? In Krishna Consciousness, even the grahastas are celibate, they use their sexual activities for procreating Krishna Conscious children only, it is also brahmacharya. If somebody is intelligent then that person will never get into married life but because they cannot control the sex urge, the next best alternative is to have a spiritual marriage, married life with a Krishna Conscious wife. When you wear saffron then you declare war against maya rightaway, so, we have to have strong determination.