Sunday, June 14, 2015

The Value of Seeing

[Krishna showing the universal form]“Tulsi says that one who insults Hari has their entire society and kingdom go to dust, like with what happened to Duryodhana, his family, and everyone associated with him.” (Dohavali, 67)

tulasī hari apamāna tēṁ hō'i akāja samāja |
rāja karata raja mili ga'ē sadala sakula kurūrāja ||67||

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It seems to be the point at which the destiny of the valuable human birth is finally being fulfilled. No more searching in vain for satisfaction of the senses. No more wondering what this existence is about. Instead, there is a fervent desire to meet the creator of all things. There is a drive to reach that destination rarely found. “I want to see God. I must meet Him. I will do whatever it takes.” While the desire alone shows great intelligence, from the interaction between the Supreme Lord and the king of the Kurus many thousands of years ago we learn that seeing isn’t everything. There must be a proper attitude; otherwise everything can go to dust.

Picture this situation. You live alone with your dog. You have a decent sized home. You’re not wealthy, but you’re not destitute either. You do a lot of things with your dog. You go on long walks. You play in the backyard. You also take drives in the car. So this one day you’ve purchased a new car. It’s the one you’ve always wanted. You’ve had your eye on it for quite some time. You saved up a lot of money in order to purchase it.

[dog]Naturally, you’re very excited. But when you drive it home for the first time, your dog doesn’t seem to care. When you put them inside to go for a ride, it’s as if they are traveling in the old car. They don’t have an opinion one way or the other. The new car is expensive and valuable to you, but to the less intelligent animal it is simply another mode of transportation. They see the exact same thing you see; it’s just that their eyes are of a different nature.

With the Supreme Lord you get the most valuable object. As the original spiritual force who glances over the dull material substance to instigate the creation, He is automatically the wealthiest person. He is responsible for the vast amount of space and everything that happens within it through the passing of time.

In His personal form we find unmatched beauty. If you took all the gold and jewels in the world and stacked them up against God, there would be no contest. It is said that the Supreme Lord makes the ornaments on His body beautiful instead of the other way around.

“My dear sir, Krishna’s form was most wonderful when He appeared on this planet and exhibited the potency of His internal energy. His wonderfully attractive form was present during His pastimes on this planet, and by His internal potency He exhibited His opulences, which are striking to everyone. His personal beauty was so great that there was no necessity for His wearing ornaments on His body. In fact, instead of the ornaments’ beautifying Krishna, Krishna’s beauty enhanced the ornaments.” (Uddhava speaking to Vidura, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 3.2.12)

[Lord Krishna]This beauty and wealth can only belong to a person. God therefore cannot be an abstract. He cannot be simply an energy. One who desperately wants to see Him must first be qualified with the proper eyes. If they don’t know that He is a person, how will they recognize Him? What value will their meeting with Him be?

In terms of personal desire the meeting can prove to be a waste, as with the example mentioned by Goswami Tulsidas in the Dohavali verse quoted above. A long time ago there was a king known as Duryodhana. He was from the Kuru dynasty; thus his group was known as the Kauravas. Their main rivals were the Pandavas. The Supreme Lord in His personal form appeared on earth at the time. Known by names such as Krishna, Vasudeva, Damodara and Govinda, He once revealed an aspect of His divine nature to Duryodhana.

This was in response to a planned attack. Duryodhana wanted to bind up Krishna as a way to embarrass Him. Krishna was known to be friendly with the Pandavas and He had come to broker a peace deal. This was the last-ditch effort to avoid war between the feuding parties. As antaryami, Krishna knows everything. Thus He understood the plan plotted against Him. He responded by showing a version of the universal form.

This vision is one way to see God. Think of everything that exists; at least what you think exists. Then put that into a single image. This sort of describes the universal form. Duryodhana and his clan saw this form and became frightened. They respected it, but the vision didn’t turn them from the sinful path. They proceeded with their obstinacy of not returning the land that rightfully belonged to the Pandavas.

Tulsidas explains what happened next. It happened only because the Kauravas went against Hari, which is another name for Krishna. The Pandavas were with Krishna. They didn’t need to see the universal form. In fact, on the battlefield of Kurukshetra the lead warrior for the Pandavas saw an even more amazing version of the universal form. Krishna displayed this to Arjuna, but Arjuna preferred to see Krishna again. He was not desperate to see God in an awe-inspiring vision. He would rather have devotion to the Supreme Lord in His original form.

arjuna uvāca

dṛṣṭvedaṁ mānuṣaṁ rūpaṁ

tava saumyaṁ janārdana

idānīm asmi saṁvṛttaḥ

sa-cetāḥ prakṛtiṁ gataḥ

“When Arjuna thus saw Krishna in His original form, he said: Seeing this humanlike form, so very beautiful, my mind is now pacified, and I am restored to my original nature.” (Bhagavad-gita, 11.51)

[Krishna showing the universal form]The Kauravas went from riches to rags. The had a raja, or kingdom, and ended up with raja, or dust. Thus seeing God is not everything. The proper path is to purify oneself first and then act in ways that God will notice. When the consciousness is purified, the individual no longer goes against God. Instead, they pursue the path of pleasing Him, which is known as devotional service. This is an eternal engagement, one that continues long after the precious divine vision is realized.

In Closing:

When still with material hankering madly,

Desire to see vision of God badly.

 

But from this not everything square,

Like with Duryodhana, for Krishna no care.

 

Version of universal form in front of him,

Still to dust, since driven by sin.

 

Follow Arjuna, who saw vision too,

Act in ways that Krishna to see you.

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