“O Lord of Koshala, even the Earth, who is the mother of the world and respected by everyone, suffers distress in the form of earthquakes.” (Lakshmana speaking to Lord Rama, Valmiki Ramayana, Aranya Kand, 66.10)Download this episode (right click and save)
The disciple who gains transcendental wisdom through association with a spiritual master feels so indebted afterwards. The guru does not have to be a formally accepted one. The interaction can be in the form of a conversation, where one person has doubts and the other removes it.
This occurred one time with Garuda and Kakabhushundi. One is the eagle-carrier of Lord Vishnu and the other is a crow who continuously speaks about the same Vishnu in His incarnation of Rama, the warrior-prince who brought further fame to the Raghu dynasty.
At one point in that conversation, Garuda describes five people/objects who work for the good of others. Even massive objects which are inanimate have spiritual identity to them. The idea is that man should have appreciation. Not everything is due to their own effort. Within the list, one in particular is relevant to the living entity struggling with the cycle of birth and death and everything that happens in between.
Shri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu gives the proper conditions for being able to always chant the names of Hari. Hari is another name for Vishnu, or God. One of the conditions He specifies is tolerance.
“One who thinks himself lower than the grass, who is more tolerant than a tree, and who does not expect personal honor yet is always prepared to give all respect to others can very easily always chant the holy name of the Lord.” (Lord Chaitanya, Chaitanya Charitamrita, Adi 17.31)
Be humbler than a blade of grass and more tolerant than a tree. The tree takes all sorts of abuse. That comes from the change in seasons alone. Then there are other living entities who cause trouble. The tree gets cut. There are forest fires. All the while, it just stands there, not protesting.
The tree is there for other living entities. The pious trees give fruit. The sinful ones, according to the Vedic definition, at the very least provide shade.
The more highly populated areas in a nation tend to be those situated near major bodies of water. Even in the modern age featuring extended air travel, the waterway is just as important. If a person has nothing, if they are completely destitute, they can still maintain life if they are near a river.
The Vedas give us the concept of sacred rivers. The Ganga and Yamuna are special due to their association with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. They originate from the spiritual world for the benefit of mankind. They sometimes swell. Sometimes their levels fall, but all the while the river is there; it can be counted on.
True wealth is not determined by how much of a paper currency a person possesses. This is because the currency can be manipulated by the government. The change can happen overnight. Suddenly, your vast wealth becomes worthless.
“The rivers, oceans, hills, mountains, forests, creepers and active drugs, in every season, paid their tax quota to the King in profusion.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 1.10.5)
From the Shrimad Bhagavatam we learn of real wealth in the kingdom of Yudhishthira. Among other things, the description includes mountains and hills providing for the people. The meaning is that the mountain provides so much value to the human society. It works for others. Despite all the effort made at raiding it of resources, the mountain does not protest.
4. The earth
The earth is known as Bhumi Devi in the Vedic tradition. She is the most loving mother. The earth is just as tolerant as the tree. Everyone walks all over it. In the modern age, they drill deep into her to extract petroleum. The process is very dangerous, as a slight move in the wrong direction can bring out toxic fumes. Nevertheless, the earth remains where it is. It even suffers distress from time to time in the form of earthquakes.
Lakshmana once remarked on this. Shri Rama, the person of whom Kakabhushundi constantly discourses, one time was upset that His wife Sita had gone missing. Rama was ready to destroy the entire world as revenge. Lakshmana asked his brother to remain calm. He referenced the earth, and how it suffers distress. The earth benefits everyone, and it remains in its position. The sober minded person behaves similarly, not taken off the righteous path by changes in fortune.
5. The saint
The saint is obviously on the righteous path. They have perfected themselves through following dharma, or religiosity. Their presence is so valuable that simply through a moment’s association a person’s life can turn around for the better. The saint is already liberated, as they are dear to the Supreme Lord. They have transcended birth and death. Since they are above the effects of the material body while still living in it, one term to describe them is jivan-mukta.
The saint stays in the world simply for the benefit of others. They offer the most valuable gift. Not just money. Not just food. Not just medical treatment. They give an occupation that can be practiced endlessly, and which provides bliss that cannot be matched anywhere else. Kakabhushundi was one such saint to Garuda, and fortunately their conversation was preserved and made possible for consultation by future generations through another saint, Goswami Tulsidas.
The earth daily trampled upon,
Suffering earthquakes continuing on.
On mountains and rivers others to rely,
Life sustained when having nearby.
Great ignorance since birth for me,
Only the saint can finally free.
Message from the Divine realm to bring,
Glories of Supreme Lord to sing.