Tuesday, April 23, 2013

So Much Space

Rama winning the contest“When the bow broke, the sound that was heard was such a ghastly roar that the earth and mountains shook. The pearl of Rama’s fame spread through all the worlds, like a box being filled with treasures.” (Janaki Mangala, Chand 13.1)

gaṃjeu so garjeu ghora dhuni suni bhūmi bhūdhara larakhare |
raghubīra jasa mukatā bipula saba bhuvana paṭu peṭaka bhare ||


In the modern age, where amenities are available at the click of a mouse, it is not uncommon for households to be filled with items that are unnecessary. The excess items are collectively referred to as junk, and some people have so much of it that film crews come to document their lives. “Why would anyone keep so much stuff?” is the question that piques the curiosity of the viewers. Though hoarding is generally considered a bad thing, space still exists for a reason. It is meant to be filled with something, and when the right something is found, it is anything but junk.

Let’s say that I’m moving into a new place, perhaps a house. When I visit the house for the first time, it is empty. This means that there are endless possibilities with respect to interior decorating. If I am married, I will have to discuss with my spouse on how we will decorate. I will want my stuff, and they will want theirs. Hopefully there is room for compromise. Sometimes what the man wants is not what the woman wants, and vice versa. The husband may be excited to have a painting of dogs playing poker, while the wife thinks that the painting is ridiculous and should never be seen by anyone who enters the home.

Dogs playing pokerAt its essence, the space in the house is for living. Living at the basic level involves eating, sleeping, mating and defending. These four behaviors guide the primary actions of animals each day. The human being is animal-like, so they follow the same behaviors, though they require a more refined version of the lifestyle. To facilitate this, the ideal home is laid out to have a room for sleeping, a room for lounging, a room for eating, and rooms for external cleansing. There are also locks on the doors to take care of defense.

All of this still doesn’t require that much space. So what do you really need in the home? Well, perhaps you can mimic what is required outside of home. At the office you need a desk and a computer. Maybe you can put that in the home too. At the nightclub there are places to sit so that you can relax and do nothing, like watch television. Maybe you can have an area for that in the home as well. You can also play games outside, so perhaps there can be a game room too.

The wise person will realize that every inch of space in the home should be filled with things that are valuable. This doesn’t have to equate to high monetary value. The children, the spouse, and the guests are what make the home. None of them are purchased in a store. They are valued because of the association; they make the journey through life more enjoyable.

That which holds us together is even more important, and not surprisingly its association is the most enjoyable. In the Bhagavad-gita, Lord Krishna says that all the truths of the Vedas are like many pearls. They rest on the thread that is Krishna. This analogy is nice because it is easy to understand. You can have many individual pearls, but if you don’t have a string to place them on, they aren’t that useful. Who wants to walk around holding a bunch of loose pearls? The pearls are valuable and beautiful, but they take on their true significance when placed on a thread.

Bhagavad-gita, 7.7“O conquerer of wealth [Arjuna], there is no Truth superior to Me. Everything rests upon Me, as pearls are strung on a thread.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.7)

In the same way, all the objects of this world aren’t so valuable when disassociated from their origin. Everything, both matter and spirit, is rooted in the Supreme Lord. Thus in one sense there is no way for anything to be separated from Him. This understanding of oneness is known as advaita, or non-dualism. Everything is God. It must be this way, otherwise God is not God. If He is not everything, then He is deficient, which automatically invalidates His supreme position.

At the same time, the objects that emanate from Him have an independent existence to some degree. Hence there is also non-dualism, or dvaita. The combination of the two properties gives us the highest truth known as achintya-bhedabheda-tattva, which was taught by Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu through the congregational chanting of the holy names: “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.”

Lord ChaitanyaThere is simultaneous oneness and difference between God and what He creates. The energetic is the source and the energy is that which the energetic generates. The relationship is inconceivable; it cannot be grasped through mental effort alone. Fortunately, we don’t really have to understand the relationship empirically. Just acting off of it is enough to reach the highest position. One acts off of the relationship by using whatever they have for the Lord’s pleasure. In bhakti-yoga, one fills whatever space they have around them with things and people that glorify God. To glorify the Supreme Lord is the most pleasurable activity, but unless one knows God they cannot glorify Him properly.

The verse referenced above from the Janaki Mangala tells us a little more about God. In this way Goswami Tulsidas, the author of the wonderful poem, gives every person an invaluable gift. From this verse we learn that God as Lord Rama broke a bow belonging to Lord Shiva to win a contest in the kingdom of Janakpur many thousands of years ago. The sound of the bow breaking was ghastly; it created such a thunderous roar that the earth and mountains were shaking as a result.

More powerful than that sound was the fame that spread as a result. Rama’s fame, which is compared to a pearl, filled the three worlds. There are the heavenly planets, the earthly planet, and the hellish planets. These three worlds, with their fourteen planets in total, comprise the material creation, which is perishable. God is imperishable. His fame inherits the same property, so His fame is not bound by any material designation; a fact confirmed by this verse.

Lord RamaThe spreading of Rama’s fame was like a container being filled with treasures. The treasures in this instance were the pearls of Rama’s fame. If we have a trunk full of junk, it is a great burden to us. We have to haul it with us if we want to move, and it takes up much space in the home. If we want to make room for something more important, we have to lift the heavy trunk and put it somewhere else.

If we have something valuable in the trunk, however, we are so happy to have the trunk. It becomes our prized possession. If the trunk is filled with pearls, we won’t look at it as a burden so much. Rama’s fame is like a pearl because it can be remembered and appreciated at any time, by any person, from any background. A person born in a poor family is just as fortunate as the rich person if they both have this pearl. Material designations are of no concern. God is for everyone, and so His fame is meant to spread through all the worlds, to all the creatures, whether living in heaven or hell.

Whether we have a lot of space to work with or just a little, we can fill it with the Lord’s glories, which are too many to count. It is said that of the millions of verses in Vedic literature that glorify Rama, Lord Shiva takes only the two syllables that comprise Rama’s name as his most valuable possession. He produces this name constantly to remember God’s glories, thereby filling the space around him with auspiciousness. Through using the holy names handed down by the Vaishnavas we can find good things as well. The name of Rama reminds us of the time He lifted Shiva’s bow to win the hand of the beautiful Janaki, Sita Devi, the daughter of King Janaka.

In Closing:

When new house we get,

To fill space mind is set.

 

Specifics for this room and that,

Need beds, desks and mat.

 

To continue living our only real need,

So space this ability should ideally feed.

 

Shiva’s bow breaking created sound of dread,

Rama’s fame throughout three worlds spread.

 

Ideal use of space came from this sound,

With God and devotees yourself surround.

www.krishnasmercy.org