“Parents and other relatives of the Lord achieve all mystic opulences automatically because of their intimate relationship with the Lord. Such opulences include all details of material enjoyment, salvation and mystic powers. Therefore, the devotee of the Lord does not seek them separately, wasting his valuable time in life.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 2.7.4 Purport)
You stumble upon something favorable. You weren’t specifically looking for this, but it fell into your lap. It’s so enjoyable to have that you now expect the same favorable item in the future. You might receive it again and again for one hundred times in a row, but as soon as it is missing just one time, when it’s favorability vanishes, you’re stuck with unhappiness that could have been avoided all along. If that opulence hadn’t been chased, the later negative experience wouldn’t have occurred. The wise saints know that opulences come and go, and when there is connection to the person who possesses all opulences, necessary things arrive without our specifically seeking them.
Let’s work through a few examples to see the futility in chasing opulences separately, without connection to God. Connection to God is known as yoga, and the human being, through first inquiring about the Absolute Truth, Brahman, has the opportunity to practice yoga. As there is connection in yoga, when not in yoga there is an automatic disconnection. The superior party is not affected in the disconnected state, just as the electrical socket is the same with or without appliances plugged into it. The appliance is what requires the electricity, and without being plugged in, it won’t work.
In the same way, the living entity requires connection to God in order to approach life properly. As the default condition with birth in the material world is disconnection, the first path chosen is the improper one. In the disconnected state, I chase after opulences, thinking that getting them will make my life better. Let’s say that pizza is my favorite dish. In America there are so many restaurants that make and sell pizza. I can spend a good amount of time trying to find the best pizza place. I can make this an adventure, trying new places week after week.
Let’s say that I find a place that is really good. The pizza is exactly to my liking. The crust is soft, the sauce isn’t too greasy, and the cheese is fresh. This will be my new pizza place. I will go here from now on because the good pizza satisfies my senses. I start going here week after week, but one time the pizza doesn’t taste so good. They overcooked it. You can’t undo “burnt”, and so this well-done crust is not cutting it today. The perfect pizza place that I found is no longer perfect; it has flaws. Thus my chase after opulence in this area was futile.
The same pattern applies to the king. He rises to prominence through hereditary links or by exhibiting his fighting prowess on the battlefield. With that prominence he gains control over the kingdom, and with that control he can get whatever he wants. Even in democratically elected governments, the leader enjoys perks that others don’t. The President of the United States can call out for a pizza at any hour of the night and have one brought to him. He can get Air Force One ready to fly to wherever he wants to go, at any time.
Yet even the ruler runs into a wall eventually. They can’t have everything they want, all the time. Presidents don’t always win reelection, and sometimes kingdoms lose sovereignty over areas. The British kingdom once stretched across the world, but slowly its power faded. More and more countries gained independence, and the once mighty kingdom shrunk in scope.
The advantage of yoga is that you strive to please the senses of the connected party first. In simpler terms, your primary objective is to please God. To please someone else, they must be a distinct personality. To be a distinct personality requires a form, and so the Supreme Lord is more than just an impersonal energy. He is full of all opulences; hence He is also known as Bhagavan. In the Vedic scriptures His opulences are described to the best extent possible, and there are also pastimes presented to show us the difference between action in yoga and action in maya, or illusion.
In the Treta Yuga the Supreme Personality of Godhead personally expands into Lord Rama, the youthful prince of the Raghu dynasty whose actions while on earth are recorded in the sacred Ramayana poem of Valmiki. From that work we see that those devoted to Rama achieve extraordinary opulences without specifically endeavoring for them. Sugriva and Vibhishana take over kingdoms just by serving Rama in full devotion. Shri Hanuman, considered Rama’s greatest devotee, is arguably the most worshiped figure in the world. This is true not only today but for the past many thousands of years.
Did Sugriva and Vibhishana strive for sovereignty as the ultimate objective in life? They may or may not have, but nevertheless they couldn’t get full control over their respective kingdoms. Yet from just surrendering to Rama in one second these things were handed over to them. And more importantly, both were in yoga, so while ruling over their kingdoms they only thought of Rama and following His dictates set forth in the Vedic literatures.
Hanuman asks for nothing from Rama but is given everything. The Supreme Lord’s wife is the goddess of fortune. She is like the wife who manages the finances for the household. She spends the Lord’s limitless fortune on worthy recipients. Sita provides for Hanuman’s necessities, allowing him to constantly chant the names of her husband wherever he goes. Thus he stays in yoga, and since he is the ideal devotee, others can worship him too.
Bhukti, mukti and siddhi are the three categories of opulences sought out by those who are not connected to God in a mood of love. Bhukti is material enjoyment, and we know that one can’t have full control over anything without God’s sanction. Mukti is the release from the cycle of birth and death, an end to reincarnation. And since one of God’s names is Mukunda, or one who grants mukti, only through the Supreme Lord’s will does liberation come about. Siddhi is a mystical perfection, the result of meditational yoga practice. Shri Hanuman has all the siddhis of yoga, but he doesn’t purposefully strive for them. You must have a purpose to an ability for it to mean something. If I can hold my breath for hours, it doesn’t really mean anything unless I can use it to better my condition. Hanuman uses mystic perfections in service to Rama. Since he uses his abilities to please God, his opulences fall into the category of bhakti.
For one who follows bhakti-yoga, intentionally or unintentionally, all necessary opulences come on their own, allowing more time for focus in transcendence. As Lord Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita, something as little as a fruit or flower is accepted by Him if the offering is made with love. This means that whether we have a lot or not very much, we always have the opportunity for real yoga in bhakti. And love for the lotus feet of the Supreme Lord, which is the fruit of bhakti-yoga, is the greatest opulence, a gift that keeps giving.
Frustration to come from just one time,
When perfect circumstances don’t align.
For opulences separately no need to strive,
Supreme Lord to provide plenty to stay alive.
Vibhishana and Sugriva kings became,
Eternal devotion Shri Hanuman gained.
To be connected with God we are meant,
In devotion all required opulences sent.