“The value of a moment's association with a devotee of the Lord cannot even be compared to the attainment of heavenly planets or liberation from matter, and what to speak of worldly benedictions in the form of material prosperity, which is for those who are meant for death.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 1.18.13)Download this episode (right click and save)
Good and evil. They are perpetually at odds. It’s like man has this choice to make. It’s always there. One is the path of light, goodness, strength, and happiness. The other is darkness, sadness, misery, chaos and despair.
The two are found in a human being, sometimes toggling. Those people who exhibit the qualities then have an effect on others. In Vedic culture there is emphasis on sadhu-sanga. A similar term is satsanga. Basically, be associated with the truth. Be around saintly people. The sinners will do you no good. According to the analysis of the wise, poetic, and eloquent Goswami Tulsidas, both groups cause distress.
1. Violating property
One way to tell a sinner is to see the stark difference between how they treat others and how they want to be treated. They like to have their property protected. If they have an expensive car, they prefer that no one steals it. They don’t want that car to get damaged. If they work hard to earn money, they are not interested in being forced to give most of it away in the form of high taxes.
Yet the sinner has no problem when these violations occur to others. Indeed, the sinner may even play an active role in the violation. One example from Vedic history is the king of Lanka, Ravana. He had many beautiful queens in his kingdom. He was feared throughout the world for his strength. He wouldn’t be too happy if his property was violated, yet without scruples he secretly took the wife of Shri Rama, failing to challenge to a fair fight.
2. Violating life
This is the other component to good government. In the modern age of democratic-style rule, there are so many debates as to what the government should and should not do. At the foundation is the protection of life and property. This is simply the extension of the natural right of the individual. Each person protects their life and their property, and so government is the collective right of a community of individuals.
“They say that this world is unreal, that there is no foundation and that there is no God in control. It is produced of sex desire, and has no cause other than lust.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 16.8)
The sinners appreciate continued living. In fact, they don’t really believe in the afterlife. They think the body is everything. According to their understanding, after death everything is finished. Due to this attitude borne of ignorance, they are more prone to violating life. Better somebody else gets hurt than them. Better to take whatever you want right now.
3. Their very presence
Tulsidas shares the realization that sinners cause distress by their very presence. You just need to have one around. That is enough to want them to go away. They are constantly annoying you. They can’t leave other people alone, though they insist that no one bother them.
4. Confirming how deplorable material life is
This is the area where the saints cause distress. One definition to the Sanskrit word sadhu is “one who cuts.” They speak frankly, as they have learned the highest truths from their own spiritual master, another sadhu. The saint reveals to me that material life is terrible. It is not fit for a gentleman.
Visual evidence of the truth is everywhere. Friends remain so for as long as an interest is met. The one time you don’t do what they want, they never talk to you again. Family can even turn against you. People chase after fame and money, but after getting it they are still not happy. The deficiencies are due to the fact that material life is not at the core of the individual, who is spirit soul. Spiritual life is where real happiness is found.
5. Through their absence
The saints cause distress by their absence. They are so wonderful to have around. In addition to accurately identifying the flawed nature of material life, they reveal the boundless glory and joy that come from spiritual life. They teach us that God can be found through something simple as sound: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
The saint’s presence is so comforting. Even though they may not be physically strong, they lead by example. This kind of saint is known as an acharya, and such a person is fearless in their treading the path of righteousness. They are a symbol of sacrifice, and when their association is missing great distress results. Foreseeing the condition, they try to alleviate that pain by saying that the association will continue through the following of instruction, vani, the heart of which is devotion to God the person.
Sinner and saint in duality two,
Distress coming from both of them too.
Hellish life for innocent making,
Against rules property taking.
Sinner by their presence alone,
Truth of material life by saint is known.
When disappearing most pain of all,
Sadhu asks that instructions recall.