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What is a mantra?
In Sanskrit, man means "mind" and tra means "freeing". So a mantra is a combination of transcendental sounds that frees our minds from anxiety. Ancient India's Vedic literature singles out one mantra as the maha (supreme) mantra. The Kali-santarana Upanishad explains, "These sixteen words - Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare,Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare - are especially meant for counteracting the present age of quarrel, anxiety and materialism." More than five hundred years ago, while spreading the maha-mantra throughout India. Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu prayed, "O Supreme Lord, in Your name You have invested all Your transcendental energies." The name Krishna means "the all-attractive one," the name Rama means "the all-pleasing one," and the name Hare is an address to the Lord's devotional energy. So the maha-mantra means, "O all-attractive, all-pleasing Lord, O energy of the Lord, please engage me in Your devotional service." Chant the Hare Krishna maha-mantra and your life will be sublime.

Who is Shri Krishna?
Shri Krishna is God, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He is the original and primeval person who is simultaneously expanded everywhere throughout existence and yet is still situated in His eternal abode in His original, transcendental form. He is the all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-merciful being. He is the chief eternal living entity amongst all eternal living entities who are His parts. Krishna is the original name for God. He has many other names. Krishna has many other names according to the country, culture and language of different peoples. To the Jews He is Yahweh, to the Christians He is Jehovah, to the Muslims He is Allah. To all He is God, the supreme being. Some people think that God is the Brahman, or the formless and eternal manifestation of spiritual energy. They say everything is one and God is therefore everything and everything is therefore God. This is one conception of the Supreme described in more detail in the section about the three phases of the absolute truth, but the devotees of the Lord, called Vaishnavas, accept that Krishna is not only the Brahman but a person. We do not say that Krishna is a person like you or me, on the contrary, He is the supreme person who is all-powerful and unlimited, whereas we living entities are in every way, limited. Krishna is the infinite source of all living beings and we are His eternal infinitesimal parts and parcels. Krishna possesses qualities. He possesses all opulent qualities in the infinite degree. He is the most beautiful personality. Since He is the Supreme, He has the supreme form and personality. No one is more beautiful or attractive than He. Krishna attracts everyone. Therefore He is called Krishna, the all-attractive one. Krishna is so attractive that He not only attracts the liberated souls but He attracts Cupid as well. Krishna is the strongest personality. By His desire alone all the universes are created and destroyed by one portion of a portion of His personal form. He can do anything and everything as He likes. He has no limitations. Krishna is also the wealthiest person since all wealth in all worlds everywhere comes from Him. Everything animate and inanimate within all creation is owned and controlled by the Lord, who is the actual proprietor of everything. One who knows this perfectly well never claims anything as his own but uses everything in the service of the Lord. Krishna is the most learned personality for He possesses all knowledge. As He describes in the Bhagavad-gita, "I know everything that has happened in the past, everything that is happening at present, everything that will happen in the future, and I know all living entities. But no one knows Me." There is nothing in existence outside of Krishna since everything is the energy of Krishna, and therefore there is nothing He cannot know at any time. He is also existing within the hearts of all living entities as the Supersoul and therefore He knows everything which they do or desire. No one is more famous than God. Although people of this world know Him in His different forms and names, everyone is aware of the Lord. Some know about Him by worshiping Him in love and service, and some know Him by negating His existence (the atheists) but everyone knows about God. Someone may be famous for some years on this Earth planet, but he certainly may not be known on other planets or at other historical times. Krishna, God, is known in all planets in all universes throughout all time. And finally, Krishna is the most renounced personality. He is not attached to anything in this world. The only thing which can bind Him is the loving devotional service of His devotees. And even then, if it will expand the devotee's love, He is capable of temporarily renouncing them as well as He did with the gopis in the famous rasa dance in Vrindavan. Sometimes God appears in this world just to show the people His original, eternal form. Sometimes He appears in other forms according to the requirements of His pastimes. More than 5,100 years ago, Krishna appeared in His original, transcendental form just to please His devotees, annihilate the miscreants, and reestablish the principles of religion. During this time in the material world, the Lord spoke Bhagavad-gita, which is one of the most famous books on this planet. In this literature, He gives the practical method to attain devotional service to His lotus feet. The perfection of life is to attain pure, loving devotional service to the Lord. This is the real goal of all living entities. When one is perfected after a life of pure service, often attained after many, many births and deaths of endeavoring to attain real knowledge, one becomes eligible to go back to the spiritual world, the eternal abode of the Lord, which is far beyond the material realm of birth, death, old age and disease.

You are not your Body
The life we're living now is not our only one. We've been through many lives. The spark of awareness within us-- the self, or soul, or whatever you want to call it-- has no beginning and no end. No weapon can cut it, no fire can burn it, no wind can blow it away.

But that spark of life keeps moving on from one body to the next. At one time you have the body of a child. Then you move on to a young person's body. Then to a middle-aged body, and then to the body of an old person. Yet in all those bodies your soul is the same. Because you are the same soul. Only your body has changed.

Your body changes, and you're always the same. So you and your body are different. You are not your body.

The final change of body is what we call "death." But it's not really final. It's only another transition, another move. Just as you change from childhood to youth to old age, at death you move on to go through the cycle again, with birth in another body.

What we do in this life sets us on our way to the next, just as what we do in school gets us ready for where we go when our schooling is over. In our next life we can go up, or we can go down. Or we can get free from the cycle altogether.
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