Monday, December 9, 2013

Overwhelmed by the Moment

Sarasvati Devi“With a happy heart Sita’s mother waved the arati lamp. Who can describe that pleasure, for even Sarasvati was overwhelmed by the moment?” (Janaki Mangala, 151)

sīya mātu mana mudita utārati ārati |
ko kahi sakai ananda magana bhai bhārati ||

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If there is an important event taking place, camera crews and reporters from various news organizations rush to the scene. Similar to how the emergency personnel must behave, these workers must not be affected by the event. They cannot be swayed one way or the other, for they are supposed to describe what is going on to others who are not there. In modern times there is the reporter on the scene who gives a live, eyewitness account. There are also those who will put their description to pad or computer screen.

Obviously the journalists are expected to be capable at their craft. They should have a way with words. They should know how to describe what’s going on in a succinct manner, but not missing any of the vital details. They should answer the five questions of who, what, where, when, why and how. If they get too absorbed in the moment, then there is no one to properly describe what is going on. This is similar to what occurred in the scene referenced above, except the reporter on the scene is the most eloquent speaker in the world and the subject of the scene the most enchanting vision.

iPhone usesIn the Vedas there is a goddess of speech and learning. You worship her in the hope that she can share some of her gifts with you. Though she distributes her rewards very liberally to anyone who pleases her properly, she still would like to see her gifts utilized in a certain manner. If you manufacture smartphones for a living, you are pleased when the purchasers use the phone to speak to their loved ones. You are pleased when they can send a text message very quickly or snap a picture of a crime scene to help catch a criminal. You are pleased if they can use the phone to be productive at work so that they can support their family.

You are not pleased, however, if the purchasers use your product to commit a crime. If they use the smartphone to organize a large scale drug run or the robbing of a bank, you will lament the tragedy and the small hand you played in it. Your product is still sold to anyone. You can try to have the purchaser sign a statement promising to use the device a certain way, but there is no means of enforcement. Thus you choose to conduct the transactions blindly. As long as there is payment made, the ownership transfers legally.

In the same way Goddess Sarasvati distributes the gift of learning and speech to anyone who pleases her. Still, there is an ideal use for her gifts. From this scene we see what catches her eye. Here she is absorbed in the moment of a bride’s mother waving the arati lamp in front of her daughter. The arati lamp is a common component of worship in the Vedic tradition. It is a sign of welcome, a way to heartily greet someone. Here the mother prays that her daughter’s marriage to her new husband will be auspicious.

Arati lampThe mother does this out of love only. She is not looking for wealth. She is not looking for fame. She likely may never see her daughter again, as the daughter now belongs to a new family. Thus the waving of the lamp is for the daughter’s benefit. The mother has so much love that she wants God to always protect her beautiful daughter. That wouldn’t be a problem, as the daughter’s new husband was God Himself in His incarnation of Shri Rama.

It was the nature of the participants that caused Goddess Sarasvati to be absorbed in the moment. A person may manufacture and sell smartphones for a living, but at night they could take pleasure in something else. The business is their “day job,” a way to carry out their obligations to their society and family. Just because they work in a certain way doesn’t mean that they limit their enjoyment.

Sarasvati is a divine figure, so she possesses the quality of goodness to a very high degree. In ignorance one doesn’t know what to do. They do such things as break useful objects out of anger and curse important people only to repent later. In passion one works very hard for a temporary result; thus reaching a neutral position. In goodness one sees things as they are, and so they are better situated for appreciating the glories of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

Think of it like sitting in church and watching the proceedings. If you’re intoxicated, you are more prone to being disrespectful of things that warrant the highest respect. If your mind is consumed with thoughts on how to make money and enjoy later on in the day, you will also not relish the nectar of topics of Godhead. If your mind is rightly situated, appreciating everything you have around you and knowing the common spiritual force that pervades everything, you will get more out of the experience.

The experience here is in bhakti, which is above even goodness. The poet says that the pleasure of Sita’s mother cannot be described accurately, for even the goddess of learning herself was absorbed in the moment. If the person who has the most ability to describe something is fully absorbed in an event, who else can even come close to properly describing it?

Sita and RamaIn God’s pastimes there are many such moments, but the saints immersed in bhakti still try their best to describe them. Sarasvati is more than happy to see her gifts utilized properly in this manner. The life-giving works of the saints of the bhakti tradition bring so much glory to the world that the benefits return back to Sarasvati as well, who delights so much in the marriage of Sita and Rama.

In Closing:

Focused camera and steady pen must be,

When journalist live news event to see.

 

If even they are by vision taken,

Chance for others to learn forsaken.

 

Though Sarasvati goddess most skilled in speech,

At wedding overwhelmed by arati’s wave each.

 

Difficulty to describe offering to Sita of queen’s.

Something special in Lord’s pastimes it means.

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