Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Where To Beg

[Sita and Rama]“Both personal interest and supreme interest are met by Sita and Rama. Why then, O Tulsi, do you approach the doors of others to have your desires met?” (Dohavali, 53)

svāratha sītā rāma so paramāratha siya rāma |
tulasī tero dusare dvāra kahā kahu kāma ||

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As Shakespeare says that all the world’s a stage, we can say that everyone on that stage is a beggar of some kind. Hardly anyone thinks this way, but from a quick study there can be no doubt into the fact. From the state of infancy alone we know that the human being can’t survive without asking for things from a higher power. As the journey through life continues the areas where begging takes place change, but the helpless condition of the living entity does not. Knowing the eternal nature of the soul, Goswami Tulsidas says there is only one place a person should go to have their desires of this world and the next met.

We commonly identify beggars as those who roam the streets looking for handouts. They may even make signs saying that they need food or some other help. Perhaps they wait at a streetlight where cars will line up. Maybe they are in the train stations where there is a lot of foot traffic. The economic conditions of the area determine how many beggars there will be, but one thing is for certain: no one prefers to be in the situation where they have to ask others for help.

[shareholder meeting]But indeed everyone does this; even the CEO of the richest company in the world. These leaders are not free to speak their mind. If they say something offensive in an interview, they have to make a statement later on apologizing. They often don’t mean what they say, but in order to continue to earn profits, they must submit to the will of the people. They also must hold their tongue at shareholder meetings and when travelling anywhere in public. They are at the mercy of those who control their financial situation.

In industrialized nations, the begging takes place in a more dignified way. Instead of going door to door to ask for money, the destitute person gets an electronic card that they can sign up for on the internet. They get a separate card to pay for food. They likely have a mobile telephone, an air conditioner, an automobile, and their own home. Though they don’t consider themselves to be a beggar, they live at the mercy of the taxpayer.

To be compelled to beg this way is only natural, as the individual has very little power when under the grip of the formidable material nature. In the Bhagavad-gita, Shri Krishna says that all living entities are His fragmental parts. Not the kind of fragment where the whole gets broken apart- these fragments come off of Krishna, who is God, but the Supreme Lord remains the same. He is the complete whole always. The living entities are described as fragments to help us understand their minute nature. They are actually expansions emanating from the storehouse of spirit that is Krishna.

mamaivāṁśo jīva-loke
jīva-bhūtaḥ sanātanaḥ
manaḥ-ṣaṣṭhānīndriyāṇi
prakṛti-sthāni karṣati

“The living entities in this conditioned world are My eternal, fragmental parts. Due to conditioned life, they are struggling very hard with the six senses, which include the mind.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 15.7)

[tree with fruits]These fragments are struggling very hard living under the material nature. What gives them trouble are the six senses, which include the mind. A person who struggles is always battling something. A person who is fighting a higher force needs help to survive. Even the most peaceful person in the world, who has no attachments, has to ask for help to remain alive. If they take fruits that fall off a tree, they essentially beg from that tree. If they drink water from a river, they are at the mercy of that river. If they live in a cave, they take shelter from the material nature and its ability to make such secluded areas.

There is the present world from which we must beg, but there is also the future to consider. This is the destination of the soul after death. Goswami Tulsidas says that Sita and Rama meet both interests. Svartha consists of the things that we see right now and paramartha is that which we can’t see. Paramartha is important since through intelligence we know that there will be another existence. Everyone born right now had to be somewhere else before. In that previous destination there was svartha, and what they desire now was previously their paramartha.

Sita and Rama are the same Radha and Krishna. They are just different manifestations of the Supreme Lord’s energy and the Supreme Lord Himself. Tulsidas says that there is no reason to beg from the doors of others to have desires met. He mentions approaching doors because he himself did this on a regular basis. In adult life his occupation was sannyasi, which is sort of like a homeless spiritual traveler. The rules of that institution state that a person cannot earn a living. They must beg for their necessities.

[Goswami Tulsidas]If they are bona fide in that position, they actually aren’t begging. By travelling from door to door and asking for little things to eat, they are giving the chance for service to fortunate people in householder life. The proprietors of these homes get the chance to associate with a saint, who gives the same advice: approach Sita and Rama to have your interests met.

Here svartha and paramartha are linked. In fact, they are identical in the higher scheme. What will worldly interest do for me if in the future I am condemned? What is some food today going to do if tomorrow I will have to die and go somewhere else? The individual is a spirit soul at the core and God is the supreme spirit. Begging from Him directly takes care of all needs.

“Does this mean that if I am hungry I should pray to God? Didn’t the communists use this experiment as a way to disprove religion, to show that God doesn’t exist?”

[Sita and Rama]The meaning is to first approach the Supreme Lord and His energy expansion. Sita Devi is the goddess of fortune. She provides whatever is needed to execute devotional service, which pleases her husband. The wise soul does not abandon their other duties, mistakenly putting the burden on God to do everything. The meaning here is to realize that no ordinary person can fulfill the real interests of the living entity. Everyone is dependent on the Supreme Lord, so to approach Him first is the right move. One should approach Him directly instead of going to one of His subordinates, who are gods in their own right. Worshiping the deputy gods who manage the material creation is begging at someone’s door, and it does not meet both personal and supreme interest. Sita and Rama are the life and soul of Goswami Tulsidas, and therefore his lone interest, to serve them, is forever met.

In Closing:

Since not in destitution to sink,

Living as beggar you don’t think.

 

But know that someone you must approach,

To have needs met, for surviving your only hope.

 

Like this all to beg in some way,

Go to God, Goswami Tulsidas to say.

 

Worldly and supreme desires thus met,

Facility for devotional life from Sita Devi get.

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