Sunday, October 25, 2009

A World Devoid of God

Rama Darbar "Who will take pleasure in residing in a dwelling where the heart dies within itself, which is devoid of delight, where the people are always agitated with anxiety and which is exceedingly disagreeable." (Women of Ayodhya describing life without Rama, Valmiki Ramayana, Ayodhya Kand, Sec 48)

We human beings tend to live in great anxiety. Described in Sanskrit as dukhalayam, this material world is a place full of miseries.

One need only watch the nightly newscasts to see evidence of this widespread anxiety. As recently as two years ago, the news media and most of the population of the U.S. were obsessed with the rise in price of gasoline. Having risen to almost 4 dollars per gallon, consumers were irate, alleging price fixing and collusion on the part of oil companies. “How will we survive?” they thought. The per barrel price of oil became the headline story each day in the news. Then all of a sudden, the gasoline price plummeted. Dropping to almost $1.50 per gallon, were people now satisfied? Definitely not, for the drop in oil price coincided with the collapse of the economy. Everyone merely shifted their anxiety from one area to another. When the economy will rebound, people will move on to worrying about national healthcare. If that problem gets solved, there will be worry about the rising power of foreign enemies. In this way, there are always problems, with people are always fearing the worst.

These problems are not new by any stretch of the imagination. Most people’s historical perspective begins from the day they were born. However, one can go back and read newspapers from the past and see that the same problems existed. There was always constant distress and turmoil relating to world wars, economic collapses, and the rise of brutal dictatorships. Yet did anything noteworthy ever result from these calamities? People were born, they became old, they contracted diseases, and they died. There is nothing new in that, for those things are guaranteed. Just as people say death and taxes are guaranteed, so are the fourfold miseries of life. Constantly worrying about the inevitable is essentially a waste of time.

Mankind’s real problem is its forgetfulness of God. Trying to find happiness in this material world, we are always making plans, adjusting our material conditions. These adjustments usually lead to more problems. The heavy metal band Metallica has an appropriate lyric line in this regard:

“This thorn in my side is from the tree I planted. It tears me and I bleed.” (Bleeding Me)

Lord Krishna We constantly plant new seeds, hoping they will bear material fruits. Yet with every new plant comes thorns in the form of attachment and worry. Real happiness comes from God. According to the Vedas, Lord Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. There are many different names for God all based on His different activities and achievements. He also comes to earth in many different forms, preaching different messages based on time, circumstance, and the population’s ability to understand spiritual knowledge. Though there are so many forms, there is still only one God whose original form is Krishna. The name Krishna means “all-attractive”, and we this beauty depicted in pictures of Him. Back when the Lord personally came to earth some five thousand years ago, He gave pleasure to all His closest associates. The people of Vrindavana had different relationships with Krishna, so they received transcendental pleasure in different ways. Krishna’s childhood friends loved spending time with Him, going out into the fields and playing games with the Lord. The cowherd girls loved taking care of Krishna and worrying about His welfare. Krishna’s parents took great pleasure in feeding their boy and watching Him grow up. When the time came for the Lord to leave Vrindavana for Mathura, all the townspeople were greatly saddened.

Krishna and His pastimes A similar situation occurred during the life of a previous incarnation of the Lord. In the Treta Yuga, Krishna came to earth in the form of Lord Rama, the greatest of warriors born in the most famous of royal dynasties, the Ikshvakus. As part of His pastimes, the Lord voluntarily accepted a punishment of exile given by His father, Maharaja Dashratha, the king of Ayodhya. As the Lord was about to leave, the citizens of Ayodhya, especially the women, were greatly saddened. Rama was their life and soul, the reservoir of all pleasure. They viewed life without Him as a life not worth living. The above referenced statement was made by the married women of Ayodhya, who were bewailing their misfortune to their husbands.

It should be noted that they weren’t lamenting over the loss of wealth or any other material possession. They weren’t sad about the falling price of a commodity. Those things didn’t concern them. They were lamenting due to the impending loss of their association with Rama, who was God Himself. This is the way mahajanas think, great spiritual personalities. They never want to be separated from the Lord. Now in actuality, the situation for these women wouldn’t end up so dire since all the citizens of Ayodhya would keep their minds fixed on the Lord during His absence. Fourteen years would pass this way, and then the Lord would triumphantly return, upon which time He would be crowned as the new king. The statement of the women of Ayodhya actually very accurately describes the situation in the Kali Yuga, the age we are currently living in.

Lord RamaWe can very easily fix our current predicament. We merely need to follow the path set by the great devotees, including the women of Ayodhya. If we keep our mind fixed on the lotus feet of the Lord by constantly chanting His name, and worshiping His deity, then we can fill the void that is in our hearts. One can easily make a routine out of such service, for we can worship the Lord day or night, inviting our friends and family to join us. We can visit temples where we can take advantage of the association of fellow devotees. We can read books about the Lord and discuss His glories and pastimes with others around the world. There are so many opportunities available to us that we can keep ourselves connected with God all the time. Then we will be happy.