Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Talking About Too Many Celebrations

[Mother Yashoda with Krishna]“Shukadeva Gosvami said: When mother Yashoda's baby was slanting His body to attempt to rise and turn around, this attempt was observed by a Vedic ceremony. In such a ceremony, called utthana, which is performed when a child is due to leave the house for the first time, the child is properly bathed. Just after Krishna turned three months old, mother Yashoda celebrated this ceremony with other women of the neighborhood. On that day, there was a conjunction of the moon with the constellation Rohini. As the brahmanas joined by chanting Vedic hymns and professional musicians also took part, this great ceremony was observed by mother Yashoda.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 10.7.4)

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śrī-śuka uvāca
kadācid autthānika-kautukāplave
janmarkṣa-yoge samaveta-yoṣitām
cakāra sūnor abhiṣecanaṁ satī

Friend-One: I’ve heard it said that in bhakti-yoga the Supreme Lord helps you out.

Friend-Two: If you are sincere.

F1: Does that mean you don’t get help if you’re not in bhakti?

F2: What would you need help in?

F1: You know, for success. Like if I want to do well on an exam, if I pray to the Supreme Lord Krishna, He might not help me, right? Because that kind of prayer doesn’t qualify as bhakti.

F2: The material nature already handles that. Karma determines the results. Approaching Him is never a bad idea, but He might not help you in the way that you think.

F1: Why not?

F2: You can’t predict the future. You don’t know if passing that exam will ultimately do you good. You think the request is innocent enough, but if that success has the potential to lead you in the wrong direction, the Supreme Lord will actually intentionally deny your request.

F1: So then He does help in that situation. So even if I don’t want love and devotion, by going to Him I’m essentially practicing it?

[Krishna's lotus feet]F2: Your devotion is not pure, that is for sure. Hey, that rhymes. [smiling] The idea is that when you have sincerity in the bhakti path, you get a lot of help along the way. In any other path, you’re at the mercy of the material nature and karma. Most people in the situation you described will not go to Krishna. They know that He might not agree. Therefore they go to other divine figures, gods assigned for specific rewards.

F1: And those gods don’t look out for you, right? It’s like buying a knife from a store. You give the store owner the proper payment and they give you the product. They’re not concerned with how you intend to use the knife.

F2: Exactly.

F1: So say that I am sincere in my desire to be devoted to God. How does He give help? Does He descend to earth? Does He appear in a vision to give me confidence?

F2: Nothing is out of the realm of possibility, but you’re thinking a little too much here. What is devotion to God? What is bhakti-yoga?

F1: I’ve heard it translated as “Krishna consciousness.”

F2: Consciousness. Exactly. So that’s how He’ll help you.

F1: He’ll make me conscious?

F2: Yeah, He’ll give you ways to always be conscious of Him. Think of the chanting of the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

F1: Right. You chant this on a set of japa beads. You go around the string of 108 beads to complete one round. Then you try to do at least sixteen of these rounds in a day.

F2: That takes up some time, does it not?

F1: And during that time you’re conscious of Krishna, at least ideally. Okay, that makes sense to me. So you’re saying the japa mala is one way that He helps the devoted soul.

F2: There are so many ways that we don’t even realize. Think of the Vaishnava holidays.

F1: You know, I’ve been meaning to ask you about that. It seems the other religions have way fewer holidays. Maybe a handful in a given year. In Krishna consciousness, it seems like there is one every single day. I mean how is that possible? Is there really that much to celebrate?

F2: That’s what happens when you learn that God is a person. When you know that He is all-attractive and living eternally, both forwards and backwards in the time continuum, how can every moment not be worth celebrating?

F1: But if you’re celebrating all the time, doesn’t the concept of a holiday lose its value? So many people watch the National Football League each Sunday precisely because the games are only on once a week. If the same team played every day, the ratings would be a lot lower.

F2: That’s an inaccurate comparison. Krishna is endlessly great. It is not that you celebrate Him on one day and then have nothing left for the next day. He is infinitely complex, and in each aspect there is sweetness. Do you know that in Vrindavana they celebrated when Krishna rolled over for the first time?

F1: Oh, you mean when He was living in the home of Nanda Maharaja?

[Krishna with mother Yashoda]F2: Yeah. Mother Yashoda held a ceremony when she saw her darling child attempting to turn around and rise for the first time. It meant that He was ready for His first trip outside of the home. So she invited people over to celebrate the occasion.

F1: You know, just thinking about this makes me feel good. It must have been a nice celebration. I’ve read that Yashoda was very good at cooking. It makes sense if you think about it. Shri Krishna Himself enjoyed what she offered to Him.

F2: Mind you, she always celebrated her son. While churning butter during the day, she would compose songs about His pastimes. She enjoyed when Krishna grabbed hold of the tail of a calf and got taken for a ride through the mud.

“Sometimes the naughty babies would crawl up to the cowshed, catch the tail of a calf and stand up. The calves, being disturbed, would immediately begin running here and there, and the children would be dragged over clay and cow dung. To see this fun, Yashoda and Rohini would call all their neighboring friends, the gopis.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 8)

[Krishna holding cow's tail]She and her friends enjoyed when Krishna tried to speak words for the first time.

F1: By giving so many opportunities for celebration, He’s making it almost impossible to not be conscious of Him.

F2: If you’re observing these festivals, then “yes.” You don’t have to remember every single one, but you should know that in bhakti Krishna goes above and beyond what is required to ensure your safe passage back home, back to His kingdom.

In Closing:

If feet in bhakti’s path set,

Help from Krishna to get.


Like celebrations in calendar filled,

Then habit of devotion instilled.


When with rolling over delighted,

Friends to home Yashoda invited.


Lord’s mercy to never leave you alone,

Paving the path back to His home.