“Being an associate of Lord Krishna, Arjuna was above all ignorance, but Arjuna was put into ignorance on the Battlefield of Kurukshetra just to question Lord Krishna about the problems of life so that the Lord could explain them for the benefit of future generations of human beings and chalk out the plan of life. Then man could act accordingly and perfect the mission of human life.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, Introduction)Download this episode (right click and save)
The Supreme Lord is not an old man who holds a grudge against His sons and daughters who ignore His will. He is not spiteful; He is not mean. We know this from Vedic literature, which tells us that He has a transcendental form that is eternal, knowledgeable and blissful. What separates Him from us is a lack of separation, namely between body and spirit. His spirit and form are identical; whereas for us the difference is always there. Just as His body is timeless, so are the words of instruction He passes on.
Imagine this situation. It’s the first day of the semester in college. This term you’ve enrolled in a creative writing class. You’re not much of a writer, but this elective satisfies one of the requirements necessary for graduation. Creative writing should be easy, you think. There’s no wrong way to think, is there? Some students are more creative for sure, but at least you should be free to write about things which interest you. You won’t be stuck reading books from hundreds of years ago, from authors you’ve never heard of.
Not wasting any time, on the first day of class the teacher gives the first assignment.
“Class, I want you to write an essay for the future generation. Imagine that this work will be read two hundred years from today. You can write about anything you want. Obviously, it should be important, because the people reading it will not know much about you. They won’t be able to relate to your exact circumstances. Use your imagination. Think long and hard about your topic. The assignment is due next week.”
On the way home, you can’t stop thinking about the assignment. The topic is what’s bugging you.
“What should I write about? I can’t think of anything. Do I discuss the hockey game I saw on television last night, how my favorite team came back to win in overtime? If I’m going to write about last night’s game, I might as well write about the one from ten years ago. To the people of the future, it won’t make a difference.
“Should I write about the argument I had with my relatives? We were going to organize an event together, and at the last minute they expected me to pay for everything. That seemed quite ridiculous, as that was never discussed beforehand. The event was for their daughter too, so why should I have to foot the bill? But will people of the future be interested in that?
“Should I write about my occupation? Should I tell them about what goes on at the office each day? Does that really matter, though? Will people care about that? Even I don’t find the stuff at my office to be too interesting. Gossip stays relevant for only a few days. Maybe I could discuss what’s in the news, but even that isn’t so important. What does it matter to the people of the future who the president of the country is today?”
For someone who really cared about the content, this assignment would be difficult. Fortunately, we have some valuable work to consult for reference. There are people who have already completed such assignments, as their words are relevant today and will remain so for as long as the earth stays around.
Take the Bhagavad-gita. This Sanskrit work is the “Song of God,” as it translates into English. The setting for this work is a great battlefield, and the speakers are a chariot driver and the warrior riding on the chariot. The setting and the occupations of the characters alone do not make the work relevant. Rather, the words themselves, the topics discussed, are what count. In the Bhagavad-gita, we learn about the soul, the material nature, the difference between the two, how to achieve perfection in life, and who God is. Many other things are discussed as well, and the words are relevant across all times and circumstances.
If you read the Bhagavad-gita, you’re essentially sitting in front of Shri Krishna and hearing from Him. He is speaking to you, though the actual words first left His beautiful mouth some five thousand years ago. Then there is the voluminous Vedic literature, which consists of important works authored thousands of years ago. And Vedic literature expands through works of more recent times which discuss the same principles.
“Shri Madhvacharya says: ‘The Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, Sama Veda, Atharva Veda, Mahabharata, Pancharatra and the original Valmiki Ramayana are all works of Vedic literature. Any literary work following the conclusive statements of these Vedic scriptures is also to be considered Vedic literature. That literature which does not conform to Vedic literature is simply misleading.’” (Shrila Prabhupada, Chaitanya Charitamrita, Madhya 6.147, Purport)
Saints like Rupa Gosvami, Sanatana Gosvami, Valmiki, Tulsidas and Vyasa wrote works that are essentially addresses to future generations. They knew the value of their words, since those words describe and glorify the Supreme Personality of Godhead. In reading those works today, one essentially gets to sit with those wonderful personalities and hear from them directly. Nothing can compare to this boon, as a moment’s association with a perfectly realized soul can transform a life spent into delusion into a life spent in enlightenment.
And isn’t that what the future generation should get out of your words, enlightenment? Only truths about the Supreme Lord and His energies can remain relevant at any time. The temporary goings on of today are not so important even to us. After a while, we forget about the arguments we had with others. The years we spent in school don’t come to mind every day.
But we can remember Krishna every single day. He is the definition behind the abstract concept of God. He is a personality, which means that He speaks and empowers others to speak. And their speech is recorded in wonderful books and poems that give future generations the much needed rescue from the material ocean of suffering.
Message to future to give,
So that with wisdom they’ll live.
About what topics to write now?
Today’s news to apply to them how?
From Vedic literature lesson take,
How your words transcendental to make.
With saints from past have a seat,
Through their mercy life’s mission meet.