Saturday, July 23, 2016

Keeping Attention To Avoid A Wasted Effort

[Shri Hanuman]“O Devi, by my good fortune my passing over the ocean has not gone in vain. By my good fortune I shall get this fame of having had your vision.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 35.78)

diṣṭyā hi na mama vyartham devi sāgara langhanam |
prāpsyāmi aham idam diṣṭyā tvat darśana kṛtam yaśaḥ ||

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In the material world there is danger at every step. The leaders of a nation get asked the question, “Is the country safe?” For maintaining high poll numbers, the answer has to be in the affirmative. For the challengers in the upcoming election, the answer is the opposite. After all, if the current officeholders were doing everything right, why even have an election?

“For one who has accepted the boat of the lotus feet of the Lord, who is the shelter of the cosmic manifestation and is famous as Mukunda or the giver of mukti, the ocean of the material world is like the water contained in a calf's hoofprint. Param padam, or the place where there are no material miseries, or Vaikuntha, is his goal, not the place where there is danger in every step of life.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 10.14.58)

The honest answer is that no one is truly safe. And this is not necessarily the fault of government. When there is birth, death must follow. It is not guaranteed that the end of life will happen after a certain number of years. Death can strike at any moment. In Kali Yuga, even the child in the womb gets attacked by a knife.

Death is the destruction of the material body. As time is the great subduing agent, it is synonymous with death. The Sanskrit word is the same for both: kala. There is destruction of the body, leading to the exit of the individual soul for another body, and there are destructions within the time spent on earth.

It is satisfying to work hard at something and see it through to the end. If you build a house with your own hands, you feel a sense of accomplishment upon conclusion. Then there is remembrance to consider. You don’t want all that work to go to waste. You want the house protected. You want to make sure it stays up for a very long time.

The general rule is that the concern is linearly related; the more difficult the work, the more strong the desire to maintain the results to that work. We can only imagine what Shri Hanuman must have been feeling, then. He did the most amazing thing in leaping over an ocean. The journey was around eight hundred miles in length. He accomplished this through properly utilizing the siddhi of yoga known as mahima. Though in the body of a forest dweller, similar to the monkey species, Hanuman one time became bigger than the biggest. He did this to succeed in the mission to find the wife of Shri Rama.

Hanuman’s feat was so amazing that many years later Bhima wanted to see it. Bhima was also an offspring of the wind-god, making him a brother to Hanuman. Meeting the famed servant of Shri Rama on a mountain, Bhima repeatedly requested Hanuman to again show that form, to which Hanuman finally obliged.

In the verse quoted above from the Ramayana, Hanuman acknowledges that it was by his good fortune the crossing of the ocean would not go in vain. The reason was that he had the darshana, or vision, of Sita Devi. He found Rama’s wife. Hanuman succeeded in the mission. He did not do that amazing thing for nothing.

Since he was engaged in devotional service, the protection of the work was guaranteed. No effort made in support of the Supreme Lord ever goes in vain. If I spent an hour chanting His names today, I will not lose the benefit accrued from that hour. Even if I immediately go back into forgetfulness of God afterwards, that time spent in remembrance will pay dividends at some point.

[Shri Hanuman]The same cannot be said of any material activity. Maybe there are residual benefits in terms of maturity and increase in knowledge, but then at the time of death everything gets erased. For the yogi in bhakti, the afterlife is not an issue. The ideal conditions for practicing the same yoga will be there in the next life. In the special case of Shri Hanuman, he remains on earth for as long as Rama’s glories continue to be told. This is the boon he asked directly from the Supreme Lord. Just as Hanuman’s leap over the ocean did not go in vain, so will any honor paid to the dearest servant of Sita and Rama bring lasting benefits to the individual.

In Closing:

Hanuman like wind coursing over water vast,

Benefits of honoring him continuing to last.

 

Since an eye on wasted effort kept,

That not for nothing over ocean leapt.

 

From seeing Rama’s wife of Sita the name,

Success in the mission to that servant came.

 

No effort in bhakti ever to go in vain,

Life of devotion Lord Himself to sustain.