“The yogi should fix in his heart the activities of Lakshmi, the goddess of fortune, who is worshiped by all demigods and is the mother of the supreme person, Brahma. She can always be found massaging the legs and thighs of the transcendental Lord, very carefully serving Him in this way.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 3.28.23)Download this episode (right click and save)
jānu-dvayaṁ jalaja-locanayā jananyā
lakṣmyākhilasya sura-vanditayā vidhātuḥ
ūrvor nidhāya kara-pallava-rociṣā yat
saṁlālitaṁ hṛdi vibhor abhavasya kuryāt
The material world is temporary and miserable. You could say that the former leads to the latter. I’m enjoying my vacation in an exotic destination, but lurking in the back of my mind is the imminent return to the grind that is the five day work week. The thought of the return of daily pressure takes away from my enjoyment in a stress-free environment.
Every victory is washed away with time. The annual champion in a sports league doesn’t have long to celebrate. When the next season begins, their achievement is a distant memory. Miseries also come from things like hurricanes, earthquakes and tornadoes. Other people give us trouble by lying, talking too loud, and stealing. Then there is the body itself, which starts to break down with age.
There is a place that is free of anxieties. Its name is Vaikuntha, and it is essentially the spiritual world. The temporary aspect is absent. A resident never has to leave. The proprietor is the embodiment of infinity. Not surprisingly, He is God. One way to define Him is to say that He lives in a place that doesn’t have any pain, trouble, or misery.
The land is free of anxieties, but there are still animate objects there. With living beings, there is constant activity. This begs the question: what does God do in Vaikuntha?
1. He rests
The form of the Supreme Personality of Godhead most associated with Vaikuntha is Vishnu. This name means “all-pervading,” and it refers to a specific beautiful form that has four hands and is opulently adorned. Vaikuntha is a realm with many planets, with the highest being Krishnaloka. In the most common use, Vaikuntha refers to where Vishnu resides. He is also known as Narayana, which means the source of all naras, or men.
Vishnu is not an old and vengeful man. He is not struggling to hold up the many planets of the different universes. In fact, the creation comes about effortlessly. While lying down in rest, Vishnu breathes in and out. When He exhales, everything we know manifests. When He inhales, those same objects enter back into Him. Vishnu is not troubled in the least. He is always in leisure, symbolized by His resting comfortably.
2. He gets massaged by Lakshmi Devi
Vishnu is not alone in Vaikuntha. Indeed, in one of the forms of liberation offered the individual gets the same bodily features as Vishnu. Liberation is the end to the cycle of birth and death, protection against having to again take birth in a temporary and miserable land. There are so many liberated souls who look like Vishnu, but you can spot the Supreme Lord through certain features, such as the Shrivatsa.
“Shrivatsa is a curl of white hair on the chest of the Lord which is a special sign of His being the Supreme Personality of Godhead. In Vaikunthaloka or in Goloka Vrindavana, the inhabitants are exactly of the same form as the Personality of Godhead, but by this Shrivatsa mark on the chest of the Lord He is distinguished from all others.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 3.19.15 Purport)
Found in that word is “Shri,” which refers to Lakshmi Devi. She is the Supreme Lord’s eternal consort. She is also known as the goddess of fortune. Lakshmi is the ideal wife and devotee. She is always by Vishnu’s side. While He rests, she massages Him. This is another way to know God. He has the most beautiful and chaste woman as His wife, and she never gives Him trouble.
3. He hears His endless glories being sung
This is what the Vedas actually are. They are the origin of what is today referred to as Hinduism. The Sanskrit word Veda means “knowledge.” Real knowledge is that which refers to the Supreme Lord and His gunas, or glories. Gunas also refer to qualities, which in Vishnu’s case are all transcendental. The Vedas sing the glories of God the person, and since it is impossible to complete such a task, the Vedas themselves expand infinitely.
The saintly characters of the universe know how to praise God. Since they use the choicest words in His honor, another of His names is Uttamashloka. In Vaikuntha He hears His glories being sung, and He doesn’t have to pay anyone to do it. The saints sing through their own will, for they know devotional service is the only route to real happiness.
4. He accepts visitors like Brahma and Narada; Bhrigu too
Just as there are moving and nonmoving creatures in this world, there are people who sing the glories of Vishnu while remaining in one place and those who move around in order to benefit others. The sound they share is a kind of mercy, or prasadam, as it helps to reawaken the dormant God consciousness found within everyone.
Lord Brahma isn’t known to be a traveler. He serves Vishnu in the role of creator. He is the origin of the species if we were to do an accurate trace of the family tree. He uses the three ingredients of goodness, passion and ignorance to make the 8,400,000 different kinds of living entities. Brahma usually visits Vaikuntha when there is a situation requiring help. Indeed, the many demigods, or devas, follow the same line, as they are always battling against the asuras, or demons. Sometimes the asuras get too strong, and so the devas go to Vaikuntha to get relief.
Narada is Brahma’s son, and he travels the three worlds chanting the name of Narayana. Narada can visit any planet at any time, and sometimes He goes to Vaikuntha. Bhrigu Muni, who is another son of Brahma, has visited Vaikuntha at least one time, as told in the Shrimad Bhagavatam. In testing the patience and tolerance of the Supreme Lord, he delivered a swift kick to Vishnu’s chest while He was resting. Vishnu did not take any offense at all, which helped Bhrigu to reach the conclusion that Vishnu is indeed the supreme among all devas.
5. He threads the eye of a needle with an elephant
It’s not known for sure if this is something Vishnu does, but He instructed Narada in the matter one time during a visit from the saint. Narada was there to ask about the future of two people: a brahmana and a cobbler. A brahmana is a person of the priestly order. Narada asked about the future of each, i.e. whether or not they would get liberation.
It was expected that the brahmana would get it, as they are in an occupation equated with the head of society. The cobbler would be more like the legs. Narada was surprised to hear that the cobbler would get liberation before the brahmana. To clear the doubt, Vishnu instructed Narada to tell both men that He was threading the eye of a needle with an elephant.
When Narada returned, upon hearing this the brahmana thought the idea to be preposterous, while the cobbler was immediately pleased by such news. The cobbler had the proper understanding of God, while the brahmana still had some progress to make.
The idea is that Vishnu can do anything anywhere. He can hold up a massive hill with the pinky finger in His left hand. He can fight off 14,000 of the best warriors attacking Him simultaneously. He can give liberation to any person, living in any place. Though He hears everything and moves more swiftly than the wind, He is still always in Vaikuntha, resting on the serpent bed of Ananta Shesha Naga, and enjoying the company of Lakshmi Devi. He is always interested in the welfare of the devotees, and they in His.
Land free of anxieties, as Vaikuntha known,
Of personal God Vishnu the home.
Of spiritual world somewhat aware,
But what the Supreme Lord doing there?
Visitor Bhrigu His patience testing,
Lakshmi giving massage while resting.
Demigods for help to His lotus feet coming,
Destination when souls liberated becoming.