Thursday, January 9, 2014

Stealing Treasures

Rama with brothers“Stealing the auspicious treasures by looking at the divine couple, the people of the city received the benefit of having eyes. When they heard that Janaka gave away brides for the other three princes, they became filled with bliss.” (Janaki Mangala, Chand 19.1)

mangala nidhāna biloki loyana lāha lūṭati nāgarīn |
dai janaka tīnihun kunvara bibāhi suni ānanda bharīn ||

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“How is no one else taking advantage of this? Though there is so much available in the material world to use for so-called enjoyment, nothing equals the reward of bhakti. To be able to glorify and worship the Supreme Personality of Godhead day after day is the real treasure of life. You don’t need a secret map to find this gem. It is not hidden from people. In fact, from what I have learned, the treasure is as close by as the heart in the chest. It can be found through repeatedly creating a sound vibration with the tongue.

“By enjoying God’s association on a daily basis, by basking in His transcendental qualities that bring me so much happiness, I feel as if I’m getting away with something. How are others not availing themselves of the same opportunity? I worry for them, as based on their personal testimony I can see what is missing in their lives. Though they are much more capable than me in all important areas, though they have so much in terms of potential for action, they are not meeting the true objective in life. They are not receiving the benefit to having an existence. I feel as if I am hoarding a treasure all to myself. Though I mostly fail even when trying my best to tell others where to find this treasure, I still won’t give up enjoying it. If others want to snooze, they will undoubtedly lose out on the real enjoyment that life has to offer.”

Radha and Krishna deity worshipThis is the general sentiment of the devotee who is immersed in bhakti-yoga, which is devotional service. The important things in life are abundantly available and inexpensive, relatively speaking. Milk and grains are easier to procure than wine and steak. At least this is how nature arranged it. When the opposite condition exists, it means that the actions of the people are guided by atheistic tendencies rather than the authorized words of scripture, which are available to one and all across different lands and in different languages.

Bhakti-yoga is the most readily available form of spiritual practice. It reaches more people than knowledge gathering, sitting in gymnastics postures, and working for a gain to be renounced later on. Indeed, its availability is greater than all other forms combined. Bhakti-yoga is like the sun of spiritual practice, dispersing its effulgence everywhere. The sun is but a tiny representation of God’s potency. Since the sun goes everywhere, it is like God. In the same way, since bhakti-yoga awaits utilization by every single spirit soul, it is non-different from God. All other forms of spiritual practice come from God, but don’t represent Him fully.

Treasure chestIn a typical adventure film featuring a treasure hunt, the goal is to find the treasure chest and open it up. The seeker is rewarded with whatever is inside. The first person to find it owns it. “Finders keepers,” as the saying goes. Pirates then try to steal the map or the treasure itself, understanding the value of the jewels and gold that are likely inside. The devotee who worships God in His personal form on a regular basis feels as if they have found the real treasure in life. Through some good fortune, which actually comes from God Himself and His representative, the means for finding the treasure are revealed.

Chaitanya Charitamrita, Madhya 19.151“According to their karma, all living entities are wandering throughout the entire universe. Some of them are being elevated to the upper planetary systems, and some are going down into the lower planetary systems. Out of many millions of wandering living entities, one who is very fortunate gets an opportunity to associate with a bona fide spiritual master by the grace of Krishna. By the mercy of both Krishna and the spiritual master, such a person receives the seed of the creeper of devotional service.” (Chaitanya Charitamrita, Madhya 19.151)

Then through even more good fortune, namely in the form of further association and dedicated practice in bhakti-yoga, the treasure arrives in the palm of the hand. They then own it. They make the best use of it, not wanting to give it up. Since it is from God, this treasure is available to every single other person as well. If I find a treasure chest in the desert, once I lay claim to it no one else can. When I take possession, others lose out. Not so with the treasure of devotional service. If I find it, others can as well. When others don’t take to it, I will feel as if I am stealing, but that is actually a good sentiment, showing a level of appreciation necessary for truly loving God.

In the above referenced verse from the Janaki Mangala, the people of the town continue to enjoy the treasure of the vision of Sita and Rama. That image gives to them the fruit of their eyes. Eyes are used to see. To make the best use of the eyes, it would make sense to always look at the best thing. Nothing beats the vision of the personal form of God sitting next to His eternal consort. Sita and Rama fit that vision, though there are other non-different forms of Godhead and His energy as well.

Sita and RamaThe people appreciated what they had in front of them. Since only a select few were there, they felt as though they were stealing these treasures. Sita’s father then announced that three more girls would be given away, to Rama’s three younger brothers. This made the people even happier. In the Vedas it is said that Rama and His brothers are all expansions of Lord Vishnu, who is the Personality of Godhead in His manifestation of opulence. While Vishnu wears glittering gems and has a glaring effulgence that causes others to view Him with reverence, Rama and His brothers have human-like forms, which elicit stronger loving sentiments from the devotees.

The consorts of Rama and His brothers bring out even more loving feelings, as these beautiful women are dedicated to the brothers in thought, word and deed. The treasures from that day continue to be stolen by the sincere poets of the bhakti tradition, who give countless others the opportunity to time travel and enjoy that wonderful scene. That same opportunity is available to one and all today through the chanting of the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

In Closing:

My joy without bound,

Since this treasure I have found.

 

Why not others also to take?

And fruitful their eyes to make.

 

Since beautiful Sita and Rama to see,

Most fortune in the world came to me.

 

Bhakti-yoga to others also can give,

So whole world in harmony to live.

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