Thursday, July 17, 2014

Room For Another Friend

[rasa dance]“Krishna's rasa dance should never be compared with any kind of material dance, such as a ball dance or a society dance. The rasa dance is a completely spiritual performance. In order to establish this fact, Krishna, the supreme mystic, expanded Himself in many forms and stood beside each gopi.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 32)

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Question: I read about the many great devotees who are constantly engaged in serving Krishna. They love Him so much. They sometimes abandon family and friends even. They are fully surrendered, and so it is no wonder that Krishna is so affectionate towards them. With all these friends, why would Krishna want my service? What need does He have for my bhakti-yoga? I think that my work would only bother Him more.

Nothing can compete with the Vedic tradition in terms of describing the Absolute realm. For the relative world, there seems to be no shortage of information available. A season of a famous sports franchise gets documented in many different ways. There are historians who study the lives of the various leaders of a nation. The daily feeds from the news and social media sites give a plethora of information on what is widely acknowledged to be the mundane.

[twitter news feed]There is too much news to consume, in fact, but one would be surprised to learn that news of the Absolute is far greater in volume. Indeed, the relative has come from the Absolute, and there is no way to properly measure the size and scope of all things relating to the Absolute. The term adhokshaja is thus often used to describe the source of the Absolute realm.

[Shrimad Bhagavatam, 1.8.19]“Being beyond the range of limited sense perception [adhokshaja], You are the eternally irreproachable factor covered by the curtain of deluding energy. You are invisible to the foolish observer, exactly as an actor dressed as a player is not recognized.” (Queen Kunti speaking to Lord Krishna, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 1.8.19)

[Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura]A very important teacher in the line of disciplic succession devoted to the source of all things once had a daily newspaper running in a certain portion of India. One person once asked this teacher how he could find enough content on religious matters to fill a daily newspaper. The teacher, Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, replied that such news came from the spiritual planets, which are too many in number to count. The universe we presently inhabit is tiny in comparison, and so the news from the spiritual world could fill thousands of newspapers every day.

Within the literature of the Vedic tradition we find the detail behind the abstract concept of a God. Even a person who has never touched a religious book or visited a house of worship can understand that there is a higher controller. But without authorized information, the mind is left to speculate. Even religious works might only touch on the commandments of God, His rules and regulations, and not give detail into His exact nature.

The Vedic literature, especially those works focusing on bhakti-yoga, reveals to us that ultimately God is a personality. He is a distinct individual, though He can expand Himself. He has an original form, which is eternal, knowledgeable and blissful. As that form is all-attractive, the Sanskrit word “Krishna” is appropriate for addressing it. That original form takes to activities, and with each action taken another name becomes appropriate. The name “Govinda” is authorized, since Krishna gives pleasure to the cows and the senses. Gopala is appropriate also because Govinda takes care of the cows and the calves in the spiritual land of Vrindavana. Vishnu also works, since Krishna expands Himself into a four-armed form, which then manages the entire creation, generating planets through exhaling and destroying the same through inhaling. Rama is appropriate as well, since Krishna expands into Balarama, the servitor God, and also Ramachandra, the warrior prince incarnation who appears as the son of King Dasharatha in Ayodhya.

[Radha and Krishna]As Krishna has an eternal body, home and pastimes, He has associates who are eternal as well. He is already atmarama, which means “satisfied in the self.” He does not need anyone to give Him pleasure. And yet He has Shrimati Radharani, His pleasure energy, always serving Him, making every moment of existence delightful for Him. He has the gopis, the cowherd women who live in Vrindavana. They serve Radharani, since they love her so much. Then there are the acharyas, those who accept the thankless task of leaving the spiritual realm in order to teach the gospel of bhakti-yoga to the fallen souls, who have forgotten their original position as servant of God.

Krishna has so many servants. He is always happy. The “angry God” model does not apply to Him. His ministers sometimes get angry. Falling victim to jealousy, they sometimes show their wrath when they feel slighted. The material nature is by default neutral. We may think that the sun is punishing us on a certain day with its heat, but actually there is no favoritism there. We choose to act in a certain way and thus reap the consequences, either good or bad. It is not Krishna’s fault when we get a bad reaction.

As Krishna is so happy, one may ask why He needs our service. Why would He want to reclaim us when He has so many people already serving Him? There are different ways to answer this question. If one feels small in their ability to approach Krishna, they can offer service to one of His servants. This is actually the recommended method. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, who is Krishna Himself in the humble guise of a preacher, prays to always be the servant of the servant of the servant of Shri Krishna. He never asks to be the direct servant of the Lord.

[Chaitanya Charitamrita, Madhya 13.80]“I am not a brahmana, I am not a kshatriya, I am not a vaishya or a shudra. Nor am I a brahmachari, a householder, a vanaprastha or a sannyasi. I identify Myself only as the servant of the servant of the servant of the lotus feet of Lord Shri Krishna, the maintainer of the gopis. He is like an ocean of nectar, and He is the cause of universal transcendental bliss. He is always existing with brilliance.” (Lord Chaitanya, Chaitanya Charitamrita, Madhya 13.80)

[Radha and Krishna with gopis]But even if we elevate to the point of serving Krishna directly, there is more than enough room. We can take the example of the rasa dance, which occurred between Krishna and the gopis of Vrindavana. There were many gopis, but only one Krishna. He solved the supposed problem by expanding Himself. This allowed each gopi to have a direct interaction with the Lord. And so Krishna does the same for us through the deity expansion, which can reside in every home in the world and receive worship simultaneously. Even more merciful than the deity is the sound of the holy name, which can be chanted by anyone. The name “Krishna” is Krishna Himself. One who knows this hangs on to the maha-mantra as their saving grace: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

In Closing:

“Served by gopis, friends and acharyas too,

So what Krishna with my service will do?

 

Better not bothering Him to hear,

Can focus on those who to Him dear.”

 

Example from dance with gopis take,

Unlimited expansions Krishna can make.

 

To servant of servant service also can give,

So no question of without bhakti to live.

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