Editor's Message

Dear Readers,
This edition of Sumiran is dedicated to 'Loving God' as the month of February is famous for Valentine's Day. 

We have shared many articles on the topic of bhakti including those discussing how to love God and why to love God. This month we share a different perspective. The first article is titled 'Bhakti is very Difficult to Attain.' And while that may be so, all is not lost. With enthusiasm, faith, humility, correct knowledge, a desire to serve selflessly, and surrender to a Guru, this becomes an achievable goal. But how can one find a true Guru? Our second article walks us through just that. Titled 'How to Recognize a True Guru' it gives one tips to identify a true Guru.

Our regular feature columns share the highlights from Swamiji's recent India tour and BM contributions. Learn about how to cure constipation naturally with home remedies in our wellness section. Finally, enjoy our bhog recipe of Pineapple Cake Pudding this month.
Best Wishes,
Editor's Desk  
In This Issue
तुम मेरे थे मेरे हो मेरे रहोगे,  
बहकूँ न अब बहकाने से |  
तुम को ही तन मन धन अरपन,  
तुम ही इक मेरे जीवन धन |  
O Shree Krishna! You were, are, and will always remain mine.  No longer can your Maya deceive me.  You are the one and only treasure of my life, and I offer my body, mind, and wealth to you alone.
- Jagadguru Shree Kripaluji Maharaj
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Bhakti is very Difficult to Attain

In a previous blog we mentioned that bhakti grants us three types of happiness, one of which is Premanand or divine love. However, it is actually very, very difficult to attain. At first glance, this may seem confusing. On the one hand, we are being encouraged to love God, while on the other, we are informed that it is a very challenging goal. Why? First, let us understand how difficult it is to attain this divine love.

sādhanaughairanāsaṁgairalabhyā suchirādapi 
hariṇā chāśhvadeyeti dvidhā sā syāt sudurlabhā

Bhakti Rasāmṛit Sindhu 1.20

meaning, it is impossible to attain based on our efforts of endless lifetimes alone. We can practice the strictest austerities or sacrifices, yet we will not get it. We cannot earn it from anywhere. We get it only when God decides to grant it to us.

hlādini śhaktir param sāra tāra prema nāma 
Chaitanya Charitāmrit

Hlādini shakti is God's personal power and this Premanand is the essence of that power. There is no way we can get it from outside or from another external source. Just like men keep their wallets and ladies their purses close to them at all times, so too, God keeps this power extremely close to Him.

Consider the consequences of not keeping the wallet or purse close by. If we lose it, we lose not only our money and credit cards but also our driver's license which is accepted as the identity proof everywhere. More seriously, if this information gets in the wrong hands, there is the increasing threat of identity theft. Similarly, desire, anger, greed, attachment, pride, jealousy, etc. are waiting to attack us at all times. If we are not vigilant, they will not hesitate to ruin us. This is why God tests us to make sure we prove ourselves worthy of divine love before bestowing it upon us.

jñānataḥ sulabhā muktirbhuktiryajñādi puṇyataḥ 
heyaṁ sādhan sāhastrai hari bhaktiḥ sudurlabhā 
Tantra Samhita

"The path of jñāna leads to liberation and sacrifice can help control the senses but love for God is very difficult to attain even after practicing for many lifetimes." This love can only be obtained by surrender when we feel completely helpless and dependent i.e. it cannot be attained based on the efforts of our sadhana. Pure love is very difficult to attain because it requires that we become totally selfless. We need to give up the desire for both, bhukti and mukti, and all desires for self-happiness.

So, God hides this power. Lord Ram had said to Kagabhushumdi,

kāgabhuśhuṁḍī māngu vara ati prasanna mohi jāna 
aṇimādika sidhi apara nidhi mokṣha sakala sukha khāna 

"I am very pleased with your efforts and wish to bless you. Would you like some special powers (siddhis) or liberation?"

avirala bhakti viśhuddha tava śhruti purāṇa jehi gāva 
jehi khojata yogīśha muni prabhu prasāda kou pāva 
dehu dayā kara rāma 

To this Kagabhushumdi replied, "O Lord! Thank you for your blessings but what will I do with such powerful items such as siddhis or liberation? They are of no use to me. I am a mere servant. I desire the one thing you have kept hidden and not yet offered-your divine love."

God's rule is to fulfill a devotee's request when He gives His darshan. However, He only bestows His divine love through the medium of a Guru. And since He does not readily grant His divine love, bhakti is considered sudurlabhā meaning it is very, very difficult to attain. 
How to Recognize a True Guru

A Guru, as we have previously learned, is one who dispels our nescience and brings to us the light of true wisdom. And from the perspective of our selfish interests, we admit that the Guru is greater than God. So, then the next question becomes how do we find such a Guru?

Some believe that the Guru will appear when the disciple is ready. When we harbor a deep and sincere desire to know and love God, He answers our prayers by sending us the inspiration and faith from within to trust one completely. Once that happens, we should have complete faith in the Guru. However, until that happens, we must continue our search.

Qualifications of a true Guru

As a part of this search, we must understand that the true Guru must have two qualifications. Firstly, he or she should possess theoretical knowledge of the scriptures--this is called Śhrotriya. Secondly, he or she should have realized that knowledge and be seated in the Truth--this is called Brahm Niṣhṭh. Hence, a true Guru is one who is both--Śhrotriya and Brahm Niṣhṭh.

Of these, the second criterion is more important i.e. the Guru must be God-realized. Only one who has attained God can help others attain Him. If one is a beggar himself, how can he give money to others; if one has no knowledge himself, how can he teach others? If one has not attained the bliss of divine love, how can he give it to others?

Behavior Identifications of a true Guru

There is a saying in Hindi:
pānī piyo chhānake, guru banāo jānake

"Drink water only after filtering it; make a Guru only after carefully knowing him." We must not accept anyone as our Guru, and especially not because of a friend's suggestion; we must invest the time to identify someone as a true Guru, and only then should we surrender to him.
However, just as it is not possible for a first-grade student to evaluate the ability of a college professor, similarly, it is not easy for us to recognize a true Guru, who is a divine personality. Yet, there are certain characteristics that provide helpful indications such as those listed below.

A true Guru removes the doubts by providing the correct knowledge and helps resolve the difficulties that come up on this path
Whatever doubts we have on the spiritual path, if we place them before the Guru, he or she can easily resolve them and dispel our confusions. A mere theoretical scholar of the scriptures cannot do this. Scholarly learning without practical sādhanā only increases the confusions, since there are many scriptures and each states different spiritual principles. The theoretical scholar becomes confused with the apparent contradictions. However, the true Guru possesses realized knowledge, for he or she has seen the Truth, and is able to reveal it with the benefit of experience.

A true Guru accepts criticism and praise alike
Having understood the nature of self and God, a God-realized Saint is beyond the dualities of Maya. Since He is working in service of God, he is unmoved and undeterred by people's criticism or praises of him and treats them alike. He will not be happy when one praises him nor be sad when one ridicules him. He only works for the welfare of others.

A true Guru does not grant boons to fulfill material desires
A true Guru does not give his disciple material allurements. Rather, he teaches that worldly attainments are not the goal. Nowadays, many so-called saints claim to have a magic formula for removing all the material miseries and bestowing money, wealth, prestige, etc. on their followers. Allured by such false statements, people flock to them in thousands. We must not get caught up in the same.

Instead, we should keep in mind that a true Guru will not grant us material wealth. He works from the inside so the externals are not important.

A true Guru's words are very impacting
The true Guru's words touch the heart and soul. Although we may have heard and read the same knowledge many times without being moved by it, when we hear the same words from the mouth of a God-realized Saint, they change us from within. We can perceive that there is something different in the way the Guru expounds the knowledge, which makes it so impacting. The reason for this is that the true Guru does not merely elucidate what he has read in books; he explains from the depths of personal realization. Hence, it goes deep into the hearts of the listeners.

By associating with a true Guru, the mind starts getting attached to God
If we associate with a true Guru, we will naturally find ourselves getting attached to God and detached from the world. Just as when we feel cold and walk towards fire, as we go closer to the fire, we naturally experience the cold going away and heat entering the body. Similarly, the God-realized Saint is like a fireball of God-consciousness. If we associate with him, we will experience the divine consciousness rubbing on us as well.

Dedication of a true Guru inspires all
As one associates with a true Guru over a period of many years, one sees the dedication and selflessness with which he serves all. A true Guru never orders, only suggests; he never judges, only observes; he never controls; only guides. When one sees the manifestation of divine love in a true Guru, it increases one's enthusiasm on this path.

Identifying such behaviors in others takes time. A true Guru cannot be recognized based on intellectual ability alone. Ultimately, the search for a true Guru requires time and faith

Featured Video

How to love God? What is true love?
It has been explained above that divine love is very difficult to attain. This does not mean it is impossible. With enthusiasm, faith, disciplined effort, proper knowledge of the scriptures, and selfless service to a true Guru, the goal of divine love can become a reality. 

Watch this video where Swamiji explains how to love God. Just as a little child requests money from his parents to express his love by buying them a birthday gift, so too, we tiny souls can express our love for God by engaging all that we have in His service.

News & Updates


Over the weekend of Jan 26th, India's Republic Day, Swamiji conducted a shibir at Nabadwip, the holy land of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Devotees from Delhi, Gujarat, Odisha, and the US attended this retreat and felt the bliss of divine grace during all the four days.  
The highlight of the first day was Swamiji's narration of stories from Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's childhood at his janamsthali which made the place come alive. On the second day, Swamiji led a very soul-touching melodious kirtan at Shrivas Angan. On the third day, Swamiji led the devotees for a dip in the holy Ganga where everyone stepped into the water and enjoyed themselves. The outdoor parikramas were the highlight of each day and made the shibir an unforgettable experience!
During the week of Feb 5th, Swamiji successfully concluded a series on the Art of Mind Management at Shahid Bhavan in Cuttack. The event was attend by approximately 750 people every evening and the hall was packed with standing room only.
Swamiji narrated the Bhagavat Katha at the Radha Krishna Mandir in Ranjeet Nagar, New Delhi. The event was very well received by the local residents and there was a growing and enthusiastic audience with each passing day.
Swamiji delivered an enlightening and thought provoking lecture on the topic of Art of Mind Management at IPEX Bhavan, Delhi.  The series was a huge success as it was very enthusiastically received by the locals. The academicians were particularly eager to learn as they poured out non-stop questions.

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What a fantastic event: Sanskriti 2018 at our Radha Krishna Temple!   The entire DFW community witnessed an extremely successful event on Saturday, Jan 20th, 2018!  Sanskriti 2018 provided a strong platform for our children to showcase their talents.  It inspired hundreds of children and adults to pursue their interests and experience our rich culture and traditions.  It instilled in our children a sense of healthy competitiveness. 
Our heartfelt gratitude to all the participants, parents (for supporting them), all the contest owners, judges, and volunteers who worked tirelessly for many weeks to make this event a grand success.  Words cannot express our deepest gratitude for making Sanskriti 2018 an extremely memorable event, which will be relished by hundreds of children and parents.  Most importantly it has provided inspiration to our children to stay connected with our rich cultural heritage and pursue their talents further.
Wellness for Life
Home Remedy for Constipation

Constipation is a universal digestive disorder spanning through people of all ages.  However constipation is not something to be embarrassed but to be treated rightly because our gut determines our metabolism. Our modern lifestyle methodically diminishes the diversity of the gut microbiome. Easily digestible processed food starve gut microbes of essential nutrients. Before turning to any quick fix laxative try alternative medical care such as some home remedies. Laxatives get things moving but do not cure the underlying cause.

Let us look at the causes:
Listen to what your body says instead of pleasing the taste buds.
Wrong food like sugary diet, refined flour, processed food, non-fibrous diet and less intake of water are some of the common cause of constipation. Snacking on sugary flavored yogurt, cookies, pastries and having meals sans green vegetables. However the most important cause is suppressing the nature's call at proper time due to carelessness. 

Fortunately, you can harbor healthy gut flora through the power of a few lifestyle changes as naturopathy believes in the innate power of the body to heal itself.

Clean your gut with easy home remedy and ensure healthy digestion every day 
Add fiber to your everyday meal -- the recommended dose is at least 25 grams of fiber for women and 35gm for men. It is simple and easy. For instance, one cup of cooked black beans has 15gm of fiber. Add prunes, raspberries, pears, apples, lentils, beans, or almonds to daily meal. High fiber diet helps restore the balance in the gut and heals chronic constipation. 

Drink enough to remain hydrated 
The intake of fibrous diet is enhanced only when it is supplemented by adequate amount of fluid in the body. The simplest fluid available is water. At least 1.5-2 liters or eight glasses of water is recommended. Sufficient fluid is vital for the proper absorption of the fiber in the digestive tract. Drinking green tea or herbal tea also keeps the body hydrated and boosts phytonutrients.

Ditch processed food 
All processed food like white flour, instant oatmeal, white sugar and high-fructose corn syrup contain high carbs that hurts the gut microbiota by creating an imbalance between good and bad bacteria.

Refined sugars can lead to an overgrowth of harmful bacteria in the gut, and refined grains tend to increase the risk of stomach, colorectal, and upper-digestive cancers. 

Bhog Recipe

Pineapple Cake Pudding
A sweet and tangy dessert

Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4-5 

For the cake 
  • 1 6" baking pan  
  • ½ can condensed milk (400g can) 
  • 140g flour (maida)  
  • 60g butter (melted)  
  • 1 tsp baking powder 
  • ½ tsp soda bicarb 
For the pudding 
  • 1 can pineapple (small) 
  • 400g fresh cream 
  • 4-5 tbsp powedered sugar   
  • Almonds for decoration

  • Sieve the flour with baking powder and soda bicarb together.
  • Mix all the ingredients and add a little water (~ 75 ml).
  • Grease and dust the baking pan and add the above mix to it.
  • Bake in hot even for about 10 min at 315F.
  • Cool the cake.
  • Cut it horizontally into two parts.
  • Place one half on a dish and soak it with pineapple syrup.
  • Beat the cream & sugar until it is fluffy and thick.
  • Spread the cream on the cake and put pineapple pieces on it.
  • Cover it with the other half of the sponge.
  • Soak it a little.
  • Spread the cream on top & sides also.
  • Decorate it with pineapple and almonds as shown in the picture.
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