Sunday, July 12, 2015

A Friend To Me And You

[Rama holding bow]“To all those who are capable the ones who give pleasure are considered dear and to all those who are incapable the ones who do good for them are considered dear. Tulsi wonders how neither side ever says that Shri Rama is dear to them.” (Dohavali, 74)

sabahi samarathahi sukhada priya acchama priya hitakāriṁ |
kabahum̐ na kāhuhi rāma priya tulasī kahā bicāri ||74||

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It’s the sad truth of life. We don’t like to think of ourselves in this way, but under a sober analysis the fact cannot be denied. I have acted this way since my childhood. So have you. So has everyone in the past and so will everyone in the future. It’s just the way of the world. We don’t know any better.

What is this truth of which no one dare speaks? Love and friendship are based on the meeting of interests; they are not pure. When we say we love someone, what we’re really saying is that we appreciate what they do for us, at the time. In the future we may forget what they have done. Our appreciation can go away. After some time, we may not love them, which means that our emotion at present doesn’t have much value.

This characterization of love and friendship spans all situations, all nations, all languages, and all time periods. Here Goswami Tulsidas presents the two extremes as it relates to material fortune. On one side you have the well-off. This doesn’t have to be a person who flies in a private jet and owns a mansion. They could simply be free of want. They have enough food to eat, enough clothes to wear, and enough money to support themselves going forward.

What does this person look for in friendship? What are they after? Who is dear to them? Anyone who brings pleasure into their lives will fit. The friend here doesn’t have to provide any support. Being fortunate means that you have the things you need. You don’t require assistance from others; only companionship. Find people who make you laugh, who stimulate your brain, who bring pleasure to the senses.

On the other side is the less fortunate. It is more obvious to see who would be dear to them. Anyone who can change the situation from unfortunate to fortunate would be dear. The term “benefactor” applies here. In many circles, this is the basis for religious practice. Find your god of choice, the divine being who fulfills your desires. Worship them with all your heart and then reap the rewards. Don’t worry about what will happen afterwards. After you become fortunate, you can follow the ways of the aforementioned category, where you look for people who give you pleasure. The people in the “dear to me” category will change.

[clapping hands]Tulsidas wonders why no one considers Rama to be dear to them. If you are already fortunate, you can thank Him for making you that way. Rama is the controller of all, the origin of matter and spirit. It is His material nature that manages the rules of karma. We decide to clap our hands and we expect the result of a particular sound. That result can only happen if material nature cooperates. That cooperation is one way to understand God.

If you are less fortunate, Rama can give you everything. When He descended to earth as Shri Krishna, He one time transformed the home of a poor brahmana into a palace. The brahmana, named Sudama, did not specifically ask for this. His wife had sent him to visit Krishna, who was living as the king of Dvaraka, to ask for something. The wife wanted to benefit from the friendship the brahmana had with Krishna as a child. Yet Sudama was too shy to ask for anything. He offered some chipped rice and that was sufficient to please Krishna, who is the husband of the goddess of fortune.

“He then snatched the bundle of chipped rice which was hanging on the shoulder of the poor brahmana, packed in one corner of his wrapper, and said, ‘What is this? My dear friend, you have brought Me nice, palatable chipped rice!’ He encouraged Sudama Vipra, saying, ‘I consider that this quantity of chipped rice will not only satisfy Me, but will satisfy the whole creation.’” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 2, Ch 26)

[Krishna with Sudama]The question may be raised that if the fortunate already have people that are dear to them, why approach Rama? The same for the less fortunate. There is already the government to provide for them. Why should they go to God to have their desires met? Isn’t that the wrong way to look at the Divine?

In both situations, Rama should be considered the dearest person. To the fortunate, He provides lasting companionship. He is all-attractive, which means that the mind can remember Him to derive satisfaction. Rama will never cease being dear. His features are inexhaustible.

To the less fortunate, Rama not only provides what is necessary to continue living, but He purifies desire also. Even if the motives are impure in the beginning, the association of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is so powerful that there is gradual purification. It is for this reason that the really sinful never approach God the person to have their desires met. They know that sometimes Rama will deny requests for the benefit of the devotee.

ananyāś cintayanto māṁ

ye janāḥ paryupāsate

teṣāṁ nityābhiyuktānāṁ

yoga-kṣemaṁ vahāmy aham

“But those who worship Me with devotion, meditating on My transcendental form - to them I carry what they lack and preserve what they have.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.22)

[Rama's lotus feet]As He promises in the Bhagavad-gita, the Supreme Lord maintains what the devotee has and brings to them what they lack. Therefore He always remains dear, to both rich and poor alike. He is the one to approach no matter the situation.

In Closing:

To one in want very clear,

That benefactor to be dear.

 

A friend for the fortunate living,

To them sense pleasure giving.

 

Yet both sides Rama to forget,

But His sanction needed for anything to get.

 

The best friend and supporter is He,

Seeing Him daily blessed to be.

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