“Looking at the four pairs, they gave their blessings as they departed. Like the white lily blooming at the rising of the moon, happiness grew in their hearts.” (Janaki Mangala, 192)
jōrīṁ cāri nihāri asīsata nikasahiṁ |
manahum̐ kumuda bidhu-udaya mudita mana bikasahiṁ ||
Who is God? Where does He live? What does He want from us? Is it better to ask things of Him or offer something to Him? If it’s the latter, what could He possibly want from us? Where do we make these offerings? The above referenced verse from the Janaki Mangala gives an example of offerings made to Him and the resultant effect. The reciprocation is tremendous, delivering a reward far superior to anything that could be asked for directly.
What are things that we could ask for? Well, perhaps we’re not feeling so well. Last night I ate something that isn’t sitting well with me. Now my stomach hurts. I’m in so much pain that I can’t do anything. I can’t even sleep. It feels like I need to throw up, but I can’t. Therefore I don’t have any relief. As a last resort I pray to God.
“O Lord, please help me out. I know I’m suffering the reaction to some past mistake. I did something wrong for sure. I have too many sins to count. I swear to be good from now on. Just make this pain go away. I can’t live like this.”
And what happens when the pain does go away? Naturally, we soon forget about the whole ordeal. We don’t remember the promises we made under duress. We carry on as usual. “As usual” means continuing in a life of material sense gratification, where the only time we remember the good Lord is when we again want something. Thus happiness does not increase. It comes for a brief moment, and then goes away. It is like the sun that peaks out from the clouds only to get hidden again.
Imagine another situation. You come home from work one day and happily greet your children. You are so happy to see them that you give them candy bars. You picked these up on your way home since they asked you for them. Your wife had advised against it, but you couldn’t help yourself. Your children are so happy to receive these gifts. The problem is the next time they aren’t as happy. They want more. The candy bars are not enough. Pretty soon you regret ever having given them the gift in the first place.
The senses of the living entity act in this way. Satisfying them only makes them want more in the future. And to reach the same satisfaction requires more the second time around. By following the desires that constantly flow in, like a rushing river, happiness remains elusive.
“A person who is not disturbed by the incessant flow of desires - that enter like rivers into the ocean which is ever being filled but is always still - can alone achieve peace, and not the man who strives to satisfy such desires.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.70)
As they say during the Christmas season, it is better to give than it is to receive. When applying this principle to the relationship to God, the previous situation turns around completely. Whereas asking for things doesn’t lead to permanent happiness, and makes one even more upset with the Supreme Lord in the chance that the desired object doesn’t come to fruition, giving to God brings happiness that only increases.
In the above referenced verse from the Janaki Mangala, happiness is on the rise. It comes from offering blessings to four newlywed couples. The women in the royal court generously gave these blessings. The recipients didn’t require them, but they accepted them anyway. The head of the newlywed couples was Shri Rama, the Supreme Lord in a famous incarnation form. Rama can grant anything to anyone. As soon as someone wants something, He can ask His eternal consort, Lakshmi Devi, to give it to them. God never runs out. The pie that is the spiritual world is infinite. Taking away one part does not diminish the whole. To us this is inconceivable, or achintya.
The women here felt happy because offering blessings to God is totally natural. The reaction is automatic as well; hence the comparison to the kumuda flower. That flower is the white water-lily; it opens up at the rise of the moon. It opens more and more as the moon heads towards its peak in the sky. In the same way, the more one offers blessings to God, the more happiness they feel in the heart.
The comparison is not entirely accurate, though, as the happiness in devotional service never reaches an end. The space in the heart only increases to make more room for happiness. It is no wonder, then, that the devoted souls continue to offer blessings to God, hoping for only the best for Him. In the heightened state of devotion, they care not for their own welfare, which is automatically maintained by Rama, His wife Sita, and Rama’s three younger brothers and their consorts, who happily returned to Ayodhya and were blessed by all the people who loved them so very much.
In devotion no care for personal gain,
By Sita and Rama always maintained.
For God’s welfare instead the only care,
That He’s self-sufficient happily unaware.
Like water-lily to the moon in the sky,
Through bhakti happiness on the rise.
Since no limit comparison deficient,
For them no offering to Lord ever sufficient.