“’Have you seen Krishna coming this way? Kindly tell us which way He has gone and save our lives.’” (Lord Chaitanya in the mood of the gopis, Chaitanya Charitamrita, Antya 15.36)
Is remaining silent when you know vital information about something the same as lying? If nobody asks you, and you don’t tell, are you to blame if something bad happens? The devotees of the Supreme Lord Krishna don’t take any chances in this regard. Why risk getting caught in a moral gray area when you can take the safer route, which will in turn give you tremendous pleasure at the same time?
If there is a fugitive on the loose and the authorities come to your home, they may ask you if you have seen the missing person. “Excuse me sir, we’re looking for such and such person. They are implicated in quite a terrible crime and have fled the scene to escape punishment. We need to bring them to justice, for that is our job. Also, by apprehending the suspect we can make sure that they don’t commit any more crimes in the near future. Have you seen such and such person? We’ve heard whisperings that the suspect may have come through your neighborhood.”
If you know where the suspect is, or if you have seen them personally, you are obligated to tell the truth, at least in the eyes of the law. More importantly, saying anything but the truth here is considered a lie, and you are in essence aiding the fugitive in their crime. But what if this question wasn’t asked of you directly? Let’s say it was asked of your neighbor, and you were in the vicinity when the question was asked. Are you still obligated to tell the truth? Is remaining silent here the same as lying?
Though you weren’t asked directly, you can decipher the proper course by seeing the consequences to the different options. If you remain silent, the fugitive will continue to remain at large. Depending on the crime they supposedly committed, this may mean that others will be put into grave danger. If you speak up, however, you’re ratting out the suspect, but at the same time you’re no longer guilty of concealing information. There is no worry over the ethical gray area. More importantly, the burden is off of you. It is up to the authorities to then act off of the information you gave them. If they fail in their search, you are not to blame at all.
In the grander scheme every person is looking for ananda, or bliss. The problem with their search, however, is that they look in all the wrong places. As the human being is no wiser than an animal at the time of birth, the natural inclination is to scratch the itching for sense gratification. Look for bliss in beer, wine, and illegal drugs. Look for pleasure in intimate relations with the opposite sex. When the mind is bored, stimulate it through gambling, and when the stomach starts to growl, feed it with animal flesh.
None of these avenues deals with the soul. In fact, they tie directly to the opposite of spirit: matter. The human being can understand that they are spirit and not matter just by looking at the constant shifts to their own body. The concept of “you only get one life” doesn’t hold if you really think about it. You only get one childhood too then, right? But when you’re an adult your childhood is gone forever. You’ll never get that youthful form back. Does this mean that you cease to exist? Is not the consciousness that allows you to realize that your childhood is gone indication enough that you’re still alive?
That consciousness never leaves, even during times of rest. At the time of death that consciousness accompanies us to a new form, which is again composed of material elements. The consciousness is tied to the soul, which is the essence of our identity. Real ananda is found through addressing the needs of the soul. To address the needs, you have to know more about the soul. In the Vedas, the atma, or soul, is described as blissful, knowledgeable and eternal. It also has a core property, or dharma, which is service. The service is ideally directed at the Supreme Soul, who is the same in quality as the individual soul but vastly superior in the quantitative measurement of that quality.
How can we quantify knowledge, bliss and eternality?
Some people have a little knowledge while others have a lot. The same applies for happiness. As far as eternality goes, the quantitative measurement is drawn from the Supreme Soul’s ability to remain within the same form for all of time. We are also eternal, but we accept and reject different bodies through reincarnation, which is ultimately our choice.
In service to God there is no need to change bodies, as the original consciousness is God consciousness. Service to God is ideal because God is all-attractive; hence one of His names is Krishna. The devotees of the personal aspect of the Supreme Lord, which is His original feature, thus hold vital information. They first gathered it from a spiritual teacher who follows devotion themselves. They learned it from their own spiritual teacher, and if you ascend the chain of succession you eventually reach the Supreme Lord Himself.
The Vaishnavas, devotees of Vishnu [Krishna], don’t take any chances with respect to concealing vital information. They will gladly share information about Krishna, provided that one is receptive to the message. I can explain the trade policy with China to my friend during dinner, but if they are focused on something else, my talk will fall on deaf ears. Yet devotees in this age of Kali are so kind that they constantly look for people who are interested, rather than wait for others to approach them. And to catch the attention of the world, they always chant the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”.
This chanting actually delivers Krishna, as the Lord is not different from His holy name. And when one is offered Krishna, the Lord’s presence saves their life. This was shown by the gopis of Vrindavana, who are considered the topmost devotees. Lord Chaitanya, who is Krishna Himself, inaugurated the sankirtana-yajna, the congregational chanting of the holy names. During His time on earth He often exhibited the mood of the gopis, sometimes asking the trees if they had seen Krishna. If they told Him where the Lord was, that information would be a lifesaver. And so the kind preacher following in Lord Chaitanya’s line looks to save everyone by revealing Krishna’s location. And more importantly, they teach us how to keep Krishna’s association through following bhakti-yoga.
Authorities may question if you know,
Where the suspected fugitive did go.
If within the vicinity of question you hear,
Whether to tell the truth or not is unclear.
If the location to them not told,
Future crimes possibly to unfold.
Similarly, God’s location Chaitanya gave,
So that countless souls He could save.
His followers take up the same task,
So that “Where is God?” we won’t have to ask.