Thursday, May 15, 2014

Giving Him A Problem

[Lord Rama's lotus feet]“Hearing the request of ‘don’t give up your love’, Rama made many entreaties in return. After embracing each other with love, with a controlled mind Janaka returned.” (Janaki Mangala, Chand 22.1)

jani choha chāḍaba binaya suni raghubīra bahu binatī karī |
mili bheṭi sahita saneha phireu bideeha mana dhīraja dharī ||

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Imagine a celebrity, someone who is very famous. Perhaps they are on the radio every day, holding an audience of millions, who listen with rapt attention and are given to comment on every opinion offered. The person could also be someone who has done good things for others, perhaps someone in a position of power who was able to save a valuable community landmark. Or maybe the person in question is a famous recording artist whose songs have touched the lives of many.

Regardless the person, the treatment from the general public is more or less the same: adulation.

“Oh, thank you so much for what you do. I can’t tell you how much you’ve changed my life. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for you. You are so wonderful. Please keep doing what you are doing. There is no way to properly express my gratitude for your presence. You are simply a terrific person. If more people were like you, we wouldn’t have so many problems in the world.”

This kind of praise isn’t hard to imagine, but what is more difficult to conceive of is being on the receiving end. How would you feel if random strangers came up to you and treated you this way? Sure, it would be nice, but what if you didn’t consider yourself to be so special. “Hey, I’m just an ordinary guy. I’m not that amazing person you think I am. I put my pants on one leg at a time, just like every other guy. I cry, I laugh, I get sick, I have fears, just like all of you out there.”

[Signing autographs]But in a quick meeting with an adoring fan, there is no time to explain. The celebrity in question gets overrun by the praise, and so they have to learn to accept it. They must find their own way to say “thanks” in return, to repay the debt of gratitude they owe. The more famous they become, the more great things they do, the bigger the problem is for them in returning appreciation.

This situation gives us a neat trick to use in giving a problem to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He has done the most amazing things. By our estimation, this universe is quite complex. We can barely understand the cycle of the human birth and death, but there are so many other creatures as well. Then this planet is hard to understand, which has a constantly changing climate. Indeed, the fact that we think we can predict the climate means that there is some regularity to the workings of this planet. Patterns emerge from some intelligence, so through some design the earth exists in a state that can be studied.

[Globe]But in fact the complexity is too great to know anything with certainty. Then there is the moon, which is also complex. Throw in the other planets and you have generations’ worth of study to keep you busy. By the way, all that study doesn’t give a definitive answer as to the origin. We get that only from authorized books like the Shrimad Bhagavatam. In works like that we find that this amazing universe constantly comes and goes, and this happens through the breathing of the Supreme Lord.

God invites endless praise through His breathing alone. He exhales to create the universes, and He inhales to take them back into His gigantic body. He does many other praiseworthy things as well. In Janakpur a long time ago, for instance, He lifted an extremely heavy bow to win the contest for the hand in marriage of Sita Devi, the king’s daughter. There is no end to the glories of this achievement. No one else in the world could lift that bow. It was only Rama, who is the same Supreme Lord of tremendous breathing potency appearing in an apparently human form.

[Rama lifting the bow]That is not an ordinary human form. As a simple test for the validity of this claim, we can try offering praise to that form. The deeds and words of that form are always tied to it. So by constantly praising the heroic feat of Rama’s lifting of the bow to win Sita’s hand, we see that the form of Rama is not ordinary. Rama has a difficult time repaying the praise directed His way, but He is the Supreme Lord, so it is a nice problem to present to Him.

In this scene from the Janaki Mangala, Rama returns kind entreaties to Janaka, Sita’s father. The two embraced, and then Janaka regained his composure while returning to the rest of the guests, who were set to depart. A fallible human being has a tough time repaying kind words offered to them. At best, they can continue to do whatever it is that makes them appreciated. As the human birth is destined for destruction, so too is the work of any great man.

[Rama holding His bow]Not so with Rama, who though leaving the immediate vicinity, stays around forever through the accounts of His deeds. He remains in the sound vibration of His names as well. And so the ability to constantly chant mantras like “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”, gives a chance at offering repayment. Even with this chanting, the devoted souls continue to offer praise to Rama, who then assumes more debt as a result. This is the kind gift the devoted souls happily offer to the Supreme Lord, who welcomes the problem of repaying kindness to such sweet individuals.

In Closing:

With so many praises their way to go,

Giving thanks, supreme debt they owe.

 

Supreme Lord most amazing work has done,

In comparison to breathing alone like others none.

 

So praise to His way send,

And in bliss this life spend.

 

Rama in Janakpur lifted the bow,

Praise it forever, give Him debt to owe.

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