Saturday, April 14, 2012

Providing Comforts

Krishna with cows“If water is poured on the root, the leaves are enlivened perfectly and automatically, but if water is poured on the leaves only, the whole energy is spoiled. Maharaja Yudhishthira, therefore, was constantly engaged in the service of the Lord, and thus the parts and parcels of the Lord, the living beings under his careful administration, were perfectly attended with all comforts in this life and all progress in the next. That is the way of perfect management of state administration.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 1.12.4 Purport)

Based on the way life presently operates, the common conception is that if you want comforts in life, you have to work hard for them. The “work” in this case involves industry. Some business venture is producing a good or service and selling it to the public for a profit. There wouldn’t be much issue with this practice if there were only a few businesses and a few products. As freedom is concomitant with residence in a playing field conducive to the pursuit of sense gratification, everyone has the same chance to chase after profit. Hence there is stiff and constant competition, requiring the businesses to regularly retool and look for new ways to continue earning a profit.

Caught in the fever of this competition, the good citizen of the state thinks that to find comforts in life one has to either start their own business and enter the competitive field directly or at least offer service to an existing company, acting as an integral member of a production unit. In reality, however, the comforts of life are provided by nature. That nature is not partial to anyone, as who can say that the nearby lake exists exclusively for their benefit? Is the sunshine only meant for me? Do not the countless trees and plants around the world derive nourishment from the splendorous sun?

Recognizing nature’s superiority is difficult when the necessities of life are currently acquired through purchases at a local market. The money used in those purchases is earned through work in industry; hence the obvious chain of causation. “If I don’t work at a business, how am I going to earn money to put food on the table?” In times past, more of the workforce was involved in agriculture, so they were directly responsible for producing the items that they would consume to keep life going.

Yet even in agriculture there must be conditions conducive to fertility. The soil must be right, there must be a certain climate, and there needs to be ample amounts of water. These factors cannot be controlled by the human being, no matter what they may falsely think. The inquisitive mind, reaching the conclusion that nature is ultimately responsible for the living being’s sustenance, can delve further into the matter. Where does nature come from? Who gives the clouds the water they need for rain? Who controls the heat?

“O Arjuna, I control heat, the rain and the drought. I am immortality, and I am also death personified. Both being and nonbeing are in Me.”  (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.19)

Lord KrishnaIn the Bhagavad-gita, a sacred text of the Vedic tradition, it is said by Lord Krishna that He is the controller of heat and the rain. Krishna is purported to be God. Followers of the Vedic tradition know that God is not a sectarian figure. The Supreme Absolute Truth is beyond duality, so He is not favorable or applicable to only a certain set of people. There may be different viewpoints, varying levels of clarity in the vision of the Absolute Truth, but His fixed position as the savior of all surrendered souls never changes.

In the Vedas, the Supreme Personality of Godhead is described as all-attractive. To attract in such a way, there must exist a form, and if that form is real, it must have features which are somewhat identifiable. Depending on your angle of vision and your mood of worship, the features you are attracted to will be different. Looking at God in a mood of reverential worship, you may only know of Him in His form of Vishnu, which has four hands and is opulently adorned. If you are attracted by protection of the most innocent, who have to unjustly absorb the attacks of superiors, you might be attracted by the half-man/half-lion form of the Lord known as Narasimhadeva.

The Bhagavad-gita is spoken by Krishna, Bhagavan in His ultimate feature. Krishna’s activities and transcendental qualities are attractive in so many ways. The Gita contains His direct instructions, so anyone interested in high philosophy and rational thought can worship and honor Krishna as the smartest person in the world. If you’re attracted to sweetness in vision, then the same Krishna as a child roaming the sacred land of Vrindavana will be your preferred deity. There is also Krishna the transcendental lover and Krishna the protector of the cows and the devotees. In this way, through so many of His opulences, one can be attracted to God and learn their true position as His servant.

Lord Krishna with cowThrough the realization of God in His personal form one can take up bhakti-yoga, or devotional service. A benefit of this highest engagement is that it automatically takes care of other responsibilities. I offer service to the proprietor of the business and I may earn a good living as a result. At the same time, I am dependent on entities that are not all-controlling. Your boss cannot guarantee that you will always have a job because you can’t be assured that his business will always be profitable.

Relying on the field to grow food is the next-best option, but again the conditions are controlled by higher authorities, namely nature and its component elements. If you worship inanimate nature, you’re not guaranteed of anything good happening. Torrential downpours, earthquakes, tornadoes and the like can strike at any moment. And since nature has no way of responding directly to your pleas, acknowledging your allegiance, for you that worship will be difficult to continue.

On the other hand, with worship of Krishna, not only are your prayers heard and acknowledged, but the benefactor in this case can make the conditions auspicious for both you and your dependents. A great example of this fact was seen with Maharaja Yudhishthira. Krishna had directly intervened on the good leader’s behalf to ensure that he would be successful in a great war. As the victor, Yudhishthira regained the throne of Hastinapura that rightfully belonged to he and his brothers. If not for their devotion to Krishna, the brothers would not have survived the many prior attacks from their enemies.

Yudhishthira provided all the comforts in life for his citizens not by promoting industry or setting up fiercely competitive ventures. Rather, simply through his direct devotion to Krishna, nature made sure to supply enough comforts so that everyone was satisfied. Whether you had a little or a lot, you could get whatever you needed from the water, minerals, grains and fruits that abounded in Yudhishthira’s kingdom. From those commodities the cows were pleased, which in turn allowed for society to flourish.

The question remains: how to water the root of the tree? How do we worship Krishna in the same way that Yudhishthira did? The king had the good fortune of having Krishna by his side, but what about us? In pure devotion, the desire is to simply connect with Krishna. That is actually the tie that holds everything else together. What this means is that if your sincere wish is to think of God, be by His side mentally, and never forget Him, the person being worshiped will make sure that the conditions around you will always remain conducive to that remembrance.

King Yudhishthira and his brothersThis doesn’t necessarily equate to a one hundred percent success rate in fruitive ventures. If you get distracted through the pursuit of profit, perhaps the Lord will purposefully make you unsuccessful to keep you on the straightened path, which in the end is the best thing for you. So many devotees of the past have been favored in this way, and there is no blame to be put on Krishna for this. His rescuing the bhaktas from a hellish life they mistakenly took to be heavenly is equally as kind as His delivering good fortune to the materially struggling devotee.

Whether in Krishna’s presence or not, chanting His names always keeps Him within the heart. Reciting the sacred formula of, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”, is the way to create a miniature replica of the famous Hastinapura within our immediate surroundings. Krishna is the root of the tree of material existence, so by watering the root the living being can start to relish fruits that no longer cloud but instead further purify consciousness. By knowing Krishna and His position, one acquires the greatest comfort in life in being able to always find the Lord by their side.

In Closing:

Bow to the feverish competition of industry,

Then worry constantly about money and property.

 

But know that on nature’s gifts we depend,

On sun, crops, and rain that the clouds send.

 

These elements have a higher controller,

Of every opulence He is the exclusive holder.

 

Shri Krishna, the Supreme Lord of all,

Worship Him through holy name’s call.

 

King Yudhishthira protected by Krishna’s grace,

Follow bhakti and avoid illusion’s chase.