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Practicing Krishna Consciousness

Why is fasting important?

Why is fasting important?

Our Answer:
Fasting is recommended as tapasya, austerity, because it helps us control our senses, and sense control is very helpful in becoming Krishna conscious. If our senses are out of control and unregulated, we won't be able to come to the mode of goodness, sattva-guna, which is required for making sure and steady spiritual progress. Fasting is also good for health because it gives the digestive organs a rest.

    Below are some things Srila Prabhupada has to say on this topic:

  • Speaking on Bhagavad-gita 7.9, Vrindavana August 15, 1974:
    "tapasya means to undergo voluntarily some inconveniences of this body. Because we are accustomed to enjoy bodily senses, and tapasya means voluntarily to give up the idea of sense gratification. That is tapasya. tapasya. Just like Ekadasi. Ekadasi, one day fasting, fortnight. That is also tapasya. Or fasting in some other auspicious day. That tapasya is good, even for health, and what to speak of advancing in Krishna consciousness. So we should accept this tapasya. . .There are many prescribed days for fasting. We should observe."
  • Room conversation, January 25, 1977, Puri
    Srila Prabhupada: ". . .More we have sex, more we have eating, more we have sleeping, that means I am entangled. The more we conquer over it, we are free. That we have to try. Whether I am in the clutches of maya or not can be tested—whether I am sleeping more, whether I am eating more, whether I am more sexually inclined. He can test himself. And bhakti means vairagya-vidya, to conquer over these three things. . . It is part of this education, spiritual education. And not to eat more than necessary. Then you'll not sleep more. You'll find, if you observe fast, you won't feel sleepy. Have you tested this?
    Gargamuni: Yes. I can remember.
    Prabhupada: Therefore ekadasi. One day or two days in the month he should practice fasting, and then he'll be able to conquer over these things."
  • Srimad-Bhagavatam, 1.17.38, Purport:
    "Even from the economic point of view, such two fasting days in a month [ekadasi] in the state will save tons of food, and the system will also act very favorably on the general health of the citizens."
  • From a lecture on Bhagavad-gita 6.16-24 in Los Angeles, February 17, 1969:
    "Because in the beginning, because we are accustomed to eat voraciously, so don't try to eat less artificially. You eat. But try to minimize. Therefore there are prescription of fasting. At least two compulsory fastings in a month. And there are other fasting days. The more you can reduce your sleep and eating, you keep good health, especially for spiritual purposes. But not artificially."
  • Path of Perfection, Chapter 4:
    "As far as the body is concerned, there are four demands—eating, sleeping, mating, and defending. The problem with modern civilization is that it is trying to increase these demands, but they should be decreased instead. Eat what we need, and sleep when we need, and our health will be excellent. There is no question of artificial imitation.
    And what is the result obtained by one who is temperate in his habits?

    'When the yogi, by practice of yoga, disciplines his mental activities and becomes situated in Transcendence—devoid of all material desires—he is said to have attained yoga.' (Bg. 6.18)"

  • Srimad-Bhagavatam, 7.12.23: "When because of disease or old age one is unable to perform his prescribed duties for advancement in spiritual consciousness or study of the Vedas, he should practice fasting, not taking any food."

What does "Haribol" mean?

I would like to know the meaning of Haribol. When one says Haribol, does it mean that we are glorifying, praising, or surrendering to the Lord?

Our Answer:

Haribol means, "chant the name of the Lord." Bol means to chant or speak. Hari means, "He who steals away the distresses of his devotees and ultimately steals their minds by His excellent transcendental qualities." Praising and chanting is very similar. "Haribol" is comparable to the Christian phrase, "Praise the Lord!" They mean the same thing.

Speaking about Krishna is known as hari-katha—this refers not only to chanting His name—so “Haribol” would also be appropriate encouragement to glorify Him in any number of ways.

Why do Krishna devotees change their names? How are such names chosen?

Why do Krishna devotees change their names? How are such names chosen?

Our Answer:

Initiated devotees in the Krishna consciousness movement accept new, spiritually focused names in connection with their new spiritual connection.

As with every Krishna conscious practice, there are scriptural explanations as well as very practical, personal explanations.

The foundational principle of Krishna consciousness (or any genuine spiritual path) is that there is a superior identity beyond this material body, commonly known as the soul. This identity has a permanent and unique relationship with Krishna that is completely inseparable.

When the soul desires to try to enjoy independently of Krishna and becomes attracted to this material world, he is covered by ignorance, and becomes forgetful of Krishna, and of his relationship with Krishna.

He misidentifies himself with the temporary body that he's wearing, and falsely thinks that the things related to that body are his. In this condition happiness and distress are gauged by the experience of pain or pleasure in relationship with the body, and the soul constantly endeavors to please the senses of his temporary body.

However, no matter how expertly the soul arranged his material situation, pain and disappointment are always coming. Even though the soul has no desire for distress to come, distress is coming.

Because the soul is covered by ignorance of his eternal position and has no knowledge of how to escape this cycle of temporary happiness and distress, the cycle continues.

All of this distress and entanglement is due to the soul's original misidentification with the body.

The soul wanders through thousands of species in many different universes, constantly baffled in his endeavor to enjoy the material energy.

Naturally the question arises, "How is this soul delivered?"

Only when the soul comes into the association of a genuine spiritual teacher—guru—can his original identity in service to Krishna be awakened.

When the soul associates with and hears the guru's instructions, he develops some desire to serve Krishna and he begins to adopt the practices of bhakti -yoga under the guru's guidance.

When the guru sees that the soul is qualified to become a disciple and fully devote himself to the practice of bhakti-yoga, the guru gives the disciple initiation.

It is common in this practice of initiation that the guru will give a spiritual name to the disciple. So in answer to your question, "how is the name chosen?" the pure guru decides, with inspiration from Krishna what the name of the disciple should be.

But why is it done in the first place?

As I mentioned before, all of the suffering that is experienced by the soul is due to forgetfulness of his original nature and to the misidentification of himself with the body.

Practically, when I hear my name, I think of myself as my body. I identify my birth given name with my family, my friends and other material relationships.

It is common that a son will be named after their father or grandfather etc. Therefore that name is naturally affiliated with material things.

When that soul comes to the shelter of a guru and desires to serve Krishna in a spiritual form, the guru will give that person a name that is aligned with that desire. "Your name is now Krishna Dasa."

Now, when that person speaks or hears his name, there is a different relationship that is brought to consciousness. Rather than thinking of the material designations of his birth given name, he will think of his guru and of his true identity as a servant of Krishna.

When a person accepts spiritual initiation it is known as his second birth, because he is practically taking his first steps into reviving his lost, eternal relationship with Krishna.

Just as at birth a person is named, so at his second birth he is also named. But this time he is given a name like Krishna Dasa (the servant of Krishna) or Bhakta Dasa (the servant of the Vaishnavas).