‘Look – here’s a table covered with a red cloth.  On it is a cage the size of a small fish aquarium.  In the cage is a white rabbit with a pink nose and pink-rimmed eyes.  In its front paws is a carrot-stub upon which it is contentedly munching.  On its back, clearly marked in blue ink, is the numeral 8.

Do we see the same thing?  We’d have to get together and compare notes to make absolutely sure, but I think we do.  There will be necessary variations, of course:  some receivers will see a cloth which is turkey red, some will see one that’s scarlet, while others may see still other shades.  (To color-blind receivers, the red tablecloth is the dark gray of cigar ashes.)  Some may see scalloped edges, some may see straight ones.  Decorative souls may add a little lace, and welcome – my tablecloth is your tablecloth, knock yourself out.

Likewise, the matter of the cage leaves quite a lot of room for individual interpretation.  For one thing, it is described in terms of rough comparison, which is useful only if you and I see the world and measure the things in it with similar eyes.  It’s easy to become careless when making rough comparisons, but the alternative is a prissy attention to detail that takes all the fun out of writing.  What am I going to say, “on the table is a cage three feet, six inches in length, two feet in width, and fourteen inches high”?  That’s not prose, that’s an instruction manual.  The paragraph also doesn’t tell us what sort of material the cage is made of – wire mesh?  steel rods?  glass? – but does it really matter?  We all understand the cage is a see-through medium; beyond that, we don’t care.  The most interesting thing here isn’t even the carrot-munching rabbit in the cage, but the number on its back.  Not a six, not a four, not nineteen-point-five.  It’s an eight.  This is what we’re looking at, and we all see it.  I didn’t tell you.  You didn’t ask me.  I never opened my mouth and you never opened yours.  We’re not even in the same year together, let alone the same room…except we are together.  We’re close.

We’re having a meeting of the minds.

I sent you a table with a red cloth on it, a cage, a rabbit, and the number eight in blue ink.  You got them all, especially that blue ink.  We’ve engaged in an act of telepathy.  No mythy-mountain shit;  real telepathy.  I’m not going to belabour the point, but before we go any further you have to understand that I’m not trying to be cute; there is a point to be made‘ – Stephen King, On Writing, p.97-98

‘But worldly people take a contrary view and give the service of Godhead the second or subsidiary place to morality on the assumption that moral living may easily dispense the same.  There are people who admit the existence of God in their practical conduct as a means of establishing themselves in moral life as if Godhead is a mere steward and caterer of their worldly conveniences and comforts.  They opine that Godhead exists only for making us moral and not for our service.  To make Him exist for morality is to make Him an order-supplier.  Such misguided persons make a show of serving God for a time in order that while leading a life of gross worldliness they may pass before the world as self-restrained holy personages, but their purpose is to turn their so-called object of worship into an Impersonal Entity in the long run.  Godhead exists in His Transcendental Form that is visible only to His devotees who render their services for the gratification of His Senses.  Neither conventional morality, which are divorced from the service of Godhead and are practised for the sensual gratification of men, has any place in the conduct of those who live for the gratification of the Senses of God.  All morality, sanctity, good manners, patience, humility, and every other good quality of the head and heart are alway anxious to serve the purpose of the devotees if they are accepted for the worship of God.  Thus it should be admitted on all hands that to seek to separate morality from theism and to imagine Godhead Himself to be subservient to the rules of conventional morality, is nothing short of undiluted atheism’

[Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur, ‘Spiritual Morality and Aesthetic Culture’ p.107-8]

‘The physical body and mind are changeable and perishable.  It is futile to set the standard of beauty for all time by reference to them’ (Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur)

‘Familiarity breeds contempt for all things of this world on account of their inherent ugliness which is found out on actual contact’ (Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur)

‘It is not for everything to serve such a small thing.  There are many small things both in this world and in the realm of the Absolute.   These small things may either try to Lord it over one another, to co-operate with onen another in lording it over themselves or they may serve things that are greater than themselves.  In this world the small things pursue the first two methods.  This is ego-worship.  It is a very mean thing because the ego is so small.  These ego-worshippers are punished by being endowed with an abnormal vision which is incapable of perceiving any thing which is really greater than themselves’ – [Real And Apparent p.40, Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur]

‘The spiritual planet, Goloka Vrndavana, the eternal abode of Lord Krsna, is shaped like the whorl of a lotus flower.  Even when the Lord descends to any one of the mundane planets, He does so by manifesting His own abode as it is.  Thus His feet remain always on the same big whorl of the lotus flower.  His feet are also as beautiful as the lotus flower.  Therefore it is said that Krsna has lotus feet’

[A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Srimad Bhagavatam Canto 1.16.6 Purport]

‘The transcendental vibration established by the chanting of Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna/Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama/ Rama Rama, Hare Hare is the sublime method for reviving our transcendental consciousness.

As living spiritual souls, we are originally Krsna conscious entities, but due to our association with matter from time immemorial, our consciousness is now adulterated by the material atmosphere. The material atmosphere, in which we are now living, is called maya, or illusion. Maya means “that which is not”. And what is this illusion? The illusion that we are all trying to be lords of the material nature, while actually we are under the grip of her stringent laws. When a servant artificially tries to imitate the all-powerful master, he is said to be in illusion. We are trying to exploit the resources of material nature, but actually we are becoming more and more entangled in her complexities. Therefore, although we are engaged in a hard struggle to conquer nature, we are ever more dependent on her. This illusory struggle against material nature can be stopped at once by revival of our eternal Krsna consciousness.

Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna/ Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare is the transcendentl process for reviving this original, pure consciousness. By chanting this transcendental vibration, we can cleanse away all misgivings within our hearts. The basic principle of all such misgivings is the false consciousness that I am lord of all I survey.

Krsna consciousness is not an artificial imposition on the mind. This consciousness is the original, natural energy of the living entity. When we hear this transcendental vibration, this consciousness is revived. This simplest method of meditation is recommended for this age. By practical experience also, one can perceive that by chanting this maha-mantra, or the Great Chanting for Deliverance, one can at once feel transcendental ecstasy coming through from the spiritual stratum.

In the material concept of life we are busy in the matter of sense gratification, as if we were in the lower, animal stage. A little elevated from this status of sense gratification, one is engaged in mental speculation for the purpose of getting out of the material clutches. A little elevated from this speculative status, when one is intelligent enough, one tries to find out the supreme cause of all causes – within and without. And when one is factually on the plane of spiritual understanding, surpassing the stages of sense, mind, and intelligence, he is then on the transcendental plane. This chanting of the Hare Krsna mantra is enacted from the spiritual platform, and thus this sound vibration surpasses all lower strata of consciousness – namely sensual, mental and intellectual. There is no need, therefore, to understand the language of the mantra, nor is there any need for mental speculation nor any intellectual adjustment for chanting this maha-mantra. It is automatic, coming from the spiritual platform, and as such, anyone can take part in the chanting without any previous qualification. In a more advanced stage, of course, one is not expected to commit offences on the grounds of spiritual understanding.

But there is no doubt that chanting takes one immediately to the spiritual platform, and one shows the first symptom of this in the urge to dance along with the chanting of the mantra. We have seen this practically. Even a child can take part in the chanting and dancing. Of course, for one who is too entangled in material life, it takes a little more time, but even such a materially engrossed man is raised to the spiritual platform very quickly. When the mantra is chanted by a pure devotee of the Lord in love, it has the greatest efficacy on hearers, and as such this chanting should be heard from the lips of a pure devotee of the Lord, so that immediate effects can be achieved.

The word Hara is the form addressing the energy of the Lord, and the words Krsna and Rama are forms of addressing the Lord Himself. Both Krsna and Rama mean “the supreme pleasure”, and Hara is the supreme pleasure energy of the Lord, changed to Hare in the vocative. The suprem pleasure energy of the Lord helps us to reach the Lord.

The material energy, called maya, is also one of the multienergies of the Lord. And we, the living entities, are the marginal energy of the Lord. The living entities are described as superior to material energy. When the superior energy is in contact with the inferior energy, an incompatible situation arises; but when the superior marginal energy is in contact with the superior energy, Hara, it is established in its happy, normal condition.

These three words, namely Hare, Krsna and Rama, are the transcendental seeds of the maha-mantra. The chanting is a spiritual call for the Lord and His energy to give protection to the conditioned soul. This chanting is exactly like the genuine cry of a child for its mother. Mother Hare helps the devotee achieve the Supreme Father’s grace, and the Lord reveals Himself to the devotee who chants this mantra sincerely.

No other means of spiritual realization is effective in this age of quarrel and hypocrisy as the chanting of the maha-mantra: Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna/ Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama/ Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada – from the LP ‘Krsna Consciousness’

The following descriptions are summaries from Krishna Dharma prabhu’s ‘Ramayana’

On hearing the news of the death of his son, Indrajit, Ravana was plunged into a state of dismay and lamentation. Ravana was surprised that Lakshman, a mere human, could have overpowered Indrajit, who had conquered lord Indra. How was this possible?

He thought of his principal queen, Mandodari. How would she react? Surely she would die of grief? Having lamented, Ravana became possessed by a great fury. All he could think of was avenging the death of his son. He took up his sword, glared at those around him and declared, ‘My son played a hoax upon Rama by killing an illusory Sita. Today, I shall kill Sita, who is so dear to Rama’.

Ravana left for the Ashoka grove, to kill Sita. How would Rama be able to live if Sita were killed? Seeing Ravana approaching, Sita began to tremble in fear. One of Ravana’s ministers, Suparshwa, however, intervened: ‘Why do you want to kill a woman? This lady should be protected. You should take out your anger on Rama and Lakshman. Afterwards, you can enjoy Sita’.

Ravana changed his mind. With mixed feelings of lust, anger and grief, Ravana resolved to kill Rama the next day. On hearing this, the Rakshasas expressed their joy.

The next day, the two armies clashed. Rama exhibitted is prowess on the battlefield. Rama moved like a whirlwind, killing demons in all directions. Rama’s Gandharva weapon made Him appear in a multitude of forms. He seemed to be everywhere at once. The curved, golden ends of his bow looked like a firebrand, surrounding the rakshasas. In less than two hours he killed 200,000 rakshasas (1,667 rakshasas a minute and 28 per second), 18,000 elephants and 14,000 horses.

The rakshasas fled to Lanka. The vanaras cheered on seeing Lord Rama’s prowess. Rama declared, ‘Only lord Siva and I can exhibit such prowess with mystical weapons’.

Meanwhile, back at his palace, Ravana was perplexed, ‘How could this happen? After all, Lakshman and Rama were mere humans’. Ravana’s generals became fearful. But Ravana was confident. He would despatch Rama and Lakshmana to Yamaraja’s abode. Ravana bellowed out his war cry. Ravana called on his chariot. He was followed by the last of his generals – Mahaparshwa, Virupaksha and Surantaka. Ravana’s forces charged Lord Rama’s army.

Ravana killed many of Sugriva’s soldiers in his charge. Sugriva was greatly angered, and killed many rakshasas in response to this. After a hard battle, Sugriva killed Virupaksha with his fist. Sugriva, Angada and Hanuman killed many rakshasas. After a tough battle, Sugriva also killed Mahaparshwa. Angada slew Surantaka, another of Ravana’s commanders. Ravana invoked mystical weapons, killing hundreds of thousands of monkeys. Ravana rushed at Lord Rama, cutting away all of Lakshmana’s arrows with great skill.

Ravana passed Lakshmana and made his way for Rama, who was like a great mountain in the midst of the battlefield. Ravana and Rama fought with their respective bows and arrows. Ravana’s arrows pierced Rama’s brow, drawing blood. Rama replied with a wash of arrows that struck the demon on every part of his body. Ravana’s rakshasa weapon assailed him on every side. Rama dodged the shafts as they fell, invoking his agniastra, releasing arrows that resembled the sun and the moon, striking Ravana’s weapons which appeared like various malevolent creatures. Ravana released the weapon fashioned by Maya dhanava. And Rama counteractedthis with his gandharva weapon. In this way Rama and Ravana fought.

After Ravana’s suyastra pierced Rama with barbed arrows, Rama countered with hundreds of his own arrows, which penetrated deeply Ravana’s limbs. Ravana attacked Vibhishana with a lance, after Vibhishana struck down his steeds with his mace. Ravana was furious. Seeing this, Lakshmana protected Vibhishana by showering Ravana with arrows. Ravana responded by hurling a lance at Lakshmana. This lance struck Lakshmana in his chest. Lakshman fell to the ground. He was grievously wounded.

Rama took his brother gently in his arms. He called for Hanuman and Sugriva: ‘Guard this prince carefully. The time has come for me to manifest my strength. I shall make short work of this ten-headed monster. Here is My unfailing promise: the world will soon be devoid of either Ravana or Myself. Let the three worlds witness My power toady in battle. I shall achieve a feat which will be spoken of by all beings for as long as the world exists’. In this way, Rama began to attack Ravana with relentless determination.

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