Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Unsatisfied Fire

Krishna pastimes“As fire is never satisfied in its consumption of firewood, so a pure devotee of the Lord never hears enough about Krishna. Historical events and other narrations concerning social and political incidents all become transcendental as soon as they are in relationship with Krishna. That is the way to transform mundane things into spiritual identity.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 3.5.10 Purport)


“The colonists had enough. They were sick of being bossed around by the King of England, who ruled from across the ocean. He had his own territory. Why, then, did he need to dictate every move of a colony so far away? Why couldn’t he just leave well enough alone? The colonists decided to revolt, and it was a bold move. They could have lost everything. They didn’t.  Instead, the United States was born. George Washington, the hero of the Revolutionary War, was the perfect fit to be the first president. Ruling with detachment, he voluntarily stepped down from office after serving two terms.”

Such historical accounts are found in many books. History is nothing more than the documented evidence of events from times past. If you write about what happened in your life yesterday, it immediately becomes history. As more time passes, there is a greater interest in that history. This is because time’s influence gradually makes things so dramatically different that going back in time brings you to an unfamiliar and intriguing setting.

George Washington - Revolutionary WarAs time is infinite, both backwards and forwards, there is no dearth of historical information for the inquisitive mind. Still, with such topics there is a limit to how much you can consume without getting fatigued. You can read about the Revolutionary War in high school and then maybe again in college. If you are really interested, it can be the principal focus of study for the rest of your life. You can become an expert scholar on the particular time period and then teach others about it. But will you want to relive the same moments over and over again? Will you want to read about Washington’s victory over the British daily? Eventually your mind will want to move on to something else. This is true of all historical subjects except one. It is the lone exception because its content is not subject to the influence of time. Whether heard today or in one thousand years, the information remains equally as relevant. Those who consume it are never satisfied in hearing it either, like a fire that never has enough firewood to consume.

Not surprisingly, the exception is God and His pastimes. He is a person just like you and me, except His features aren’t so limited. As a person, I have hands, legs, arms, a face, and other such aspects relating to my body. These features don’t identify me, but in the present time period they are used for various things. These features can completely change, up to the point of withering away, and my identity remains the same. With God, there are features as well, except they are not subject to the influence of time. Unlike us, His features do identify Him. His transcendental smile is the same in quality as His vital force within. With God, there is no difference between the inside and the outside.

Anyone can say anything, so we can say that God’s body is non-different from His soul, but how do we actually prove this? One way is to study His activities. As the body of the individual is temporary, so must be their activities. So too must the hearing of those activities bring a temporary result. Therefore we can’t hear the same historical accounts every single day without getting bored. These accounts relate to temporary things done by a temporary body. With the Supreme Lord, the activities are done with a spiritual body, and so one can hear about them over and over again without issue.

Lord KrishnaThere are so many activities to choose from, and they are documented in the Vedic texts. In this area the Vedas are unique, as they don’t merely inform us of the existence of God. We are both told that there is a God and shown how God is God. The explanation is given in terms that we can understand. For instance, we know that the human being is limited in their strength. At best, after extensive training and good fortune, a human being can lift a car for a few seconds. After that they get very tired. God is so powerful that He can lift up a massive hill and hold it aloft using His pinky finger. He holds this hill up for seven consecutive days without breaking a sweat. He can hold it longer, but there are other activities He likes to perform instead.

Though technically he isn’t holding up that hill right now, in our minds He can be. We simply remember that incident, which is known as the first Govardhana-puja. It is celebrated annually around the world, and especially in India where the original hill still rests. Part of that celebration is remembering the original act of lifting the hill. People saw the incident and then discussed it with others. The descriptions were then documented in Vedic texts like the Bhagavata Purana. People born in the last ten years never saw past spaceships fly into outer space. Based on the accounts of those who did see it, however, the new generation can accept the journeys as factual. In the same way, we can understand that God definitely did lift a massive hill in sport, turning it into a pastime umbrella.

Narasimhadeva with PrahladaHe’s done so many other things as well, sometimes working through His proxies. His expansion, Lord Shiva, once drank up poison in order to avert a disaster. His heroic devotee, Shri Hanuman, once lifted a mountain and carried it elsewhere. His greatest lovers, the gopis of Vrindavana, think about Him all the time, even when He asks them not to. His five-year old devotee, Prahlada Maharaja, amazingly survives a fall from a cliff, an encounter with snakes in a pit, and an attack of deadly weapons coming his way. Prahlada’s story alone is enough to warm the heart day after day.

There are so many historical events relating to the Supreme Lord that one needn’t rely on other accounts to satisfy their inquisitiveness. The Mahabharata features all issues of social life, such as backstabbing, lying, marriage, politics and war. Since the topics deal with God and His activities, they are transcendental, and can thus be heard over and over again. The fact that we still speak of the Ramayana, Mahabharata and Puranas today is evidence of God’s superiority.

In Closing:

To satisfy the inquisitive mind,

Wealth of info in Vedas to find.

 

How Lord Krishna Govardhana Hill did lift,

And Hanuman to Lakshmana brought life-saving gift.

 

Prahlada Maharaja, though of only five years,

His devotion to God daily to inspire tears.

 

In hearing such topics devotees never tire,

Like in consumption the unsatisfied burning fire.

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