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An Excerpt from Correspondence on My Seminar on Humility at Yogamaya

May 15th, 2014

Below is some of the interesting correspondence I have received after my seminar on humility at Yogamaya last month.

From Amanda:

Last Saturday morning at breakfast, I dropped this question on a friend… what do you think the difference is between humility and self-esteem? I wanted to share his answer not only because of its succinctness, but it takes it out of a spiritual context making it totally inclusive.

“A lack of self-esteem is thinking yourself lesser than others. Humility is to not see yourself greater than others.”

I’m not sure that a requisite for humility is a belief in something higher than one’s self, although I do think it is an important part of any spiritual path. I have met and know many “atheists” that are more genuinely humble than some I have crossed calling themselves “spiritual”.

Look forward to hearing what others have been chewing on about this the last week!

With love,

My response:

The initial quandary that my seminar attempted to tackle was how to not be inhibited in spiritual pursuits that are founded in humility when often the feelings and expressions of a truly humble person parallel one with low self-esteem.

My conclusion was that the feelings and expressions of a person who sees people as better than themselves does not have to be just a result of psychological trauma (low self-esteem). They can also be an expression of a genuine spiritual experience, where one feels the majesty and love of God, an experience that makes one feel happily small and naturally invokes a mood of reverence and service towards others. As God is everywhere one tends to be humbled (less) before everything.

Sri Caitanya (my lineage) instructed his followers that the following was so important that one should wear it around ones neck:

One should chant the holy name in a humble state of mind
Think oneself lower than the straw in the street
More tolerant than a tree
Devoid of all sense of false prestige
And ready to offer all respect to others
In such a state of mind
One can chant constantly

So that’s how I reconcile the feelings of humble person that often parallel expression of low self-esteem.

I think what Amanda is pointing out is that there is another type of humility where one doesn’t necessarily feel less than others, but just not greater than others. If humility is a modest feeling of one insignificance then that is obviously a valid definition. What I was trying to discern is if there is a type of humility where one feels even lower than others that is not a product of low self-esteem. I think there is.

Humility is certainly not the property of those who believe in a deity.

I think an atheist with high moral values is connecting with something higher than themselves.

If they don’t accept absolute moral values can they be humble?

Radhastami at The Bhakti Center

Bhakti In Essence – Narada Bhakti Sutra – Sutra 4

September 4th, 2012

Narada Bhakti Sutra

Sutra 4

yal labdhvā pumān siddho bhavaty amṛto bhavati tṛpto bhavati

Having attained divine love, a person becomes perfect, immortal and satisfied.

The first three verses introduced the subject of bhakti. In the next three verses, beginning here with text four, Sri Narada describes the effect of such divine love on the soul.

First he says that by it one becomes perfect. To understand why this is so, one must understand what dharma is. Dharma means duty. It also means essential nature, for unless we understand what we are made for (our essential, intrinsic nature), how can we understand what we are meant to do (our dharma or duty)? According to the bhakti tradition, the soul is part of the supreme consciousness. As all parts are meant to serve the whole, the dharma of the soul is bhakti — to selflessly serve God.

But what does this have to do with perfection?


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Bhakti Immersion Retreat 2012 (video)

Bhakti Immersion Retreat at Pumpkin Hollow

August 27th, 2012

During August 23-26, 2012, dozens joined Dhanurdhara Swami, Raghunatha, and Visvambhar and Vrinda Devi for a weekend of sat sanga, meditation, kirtan, and yoga at the Pumpkin Hollow Retreat Center in Craryville, New York.

The following pictures are just a glimpse of the activities that took place.


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Krishna-lila: How to Relish and Understand the Krishna Story

Lotus Festival: The Bewilderment of Lord Brahma

August 23rd, 2012

Lotus Festival: The Bewilderment of Lord Brahma

On August 11, 2012, Srila Dhanurdhara Swami gave a lecture entitled The Bewilderment of Lord Brahma on the final day of a three day Sri Krishna Janmastami festival at The Bhakti Center in New York. The following is a recording of that talk.


Lotus Festival: The Bewilderment of Lord Brahma

Sri Krishna Janmastami

August 21st, 2012

Sri Krishna Janmastami

On August 9, 2012, Srila Dhanurdhara Swami gave a lecture about Sri Krishna Janmastami, the appearance day of Krishna, as part of a three day festival at The Bhakti Center in New York. The following is a recording of that talk.


Sri Krishna Janmastami

Bhakti in Essence – Narada Bhakti Sutra – Sutra 3

August 16th, 2012

Narada Bhakti Sutra

Sutra 3

amṛta-svarūpā ca

This pure love for God is eternal.

All spiritual paths, or yogas, are simply a means or practice (sadhana) to achieve a transcendent objective (sadhya). Bhakti, unlike other yogas, is not just a steppingstone to a goal but also the goal itself, the sadhya. By the practice of selfless devotion we attain the fruit of pure devotion, the only difference being their respective maturity. In contrast, the practice and goal of all other paths are quite at variance. For example, the jnani strives for moksa (liberation), a state of untroubled awareness, but his practice is vairagya, arduous renunciation. And like every other path, except bhakti, its mode of practice is relinquished upon accomplishment. To highlight that bhakti unlike other paths is not just an intermediary step to achieve something else but also what the practitioner is seeking to attain in perfection, Sri Narada asserts that bhakti is eternal. In implying that bhakti is the goal or ultimate attainment, Narada is following the authority of standard texts like the Taittiriya Upanishad, where the ultimate reality is described as rasa vai saha, a flow of pure and intense devotion.


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Bhakti in Essence – Narada Bhakti Sutra – Sutra 2

July 27th, 2012

Narada Bhakti Sutra

Sutra 2

sā tv-asmin parama-prema-rūpā

The nature of bhakti is the topmost love for God.


The first verse of Narada Bhakti Sutra announced the subject of the book, implied bhakti’s superlative position, and hinted at the urgency to realize the self through the study and practice of bhakti. This second verse now defines the nature of such bhakti — it is the purest love for God.

Sri Rupa Goswami, a prominent 15th century successor of Sri Narada, thus defined bhakti as follows.

“True bhakti is activity not covered by any selfish desire and done with the exclusive intention to please God.”

Thus bhakti in its topmost form has two pertinent characteristics: it is free of all selfish motives, and it is focused upon God. It is easy to see that true devotion cannot be selfish, but why does it have to be for God?


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