“In the Shrimad-Bhagavatam it is said that anyone who hears the story of the Syamantaka jewel or describes it or simply remembers it will be free from all kinds of defamation and the reactions of all impious activities and thus will attain the highest perfectional condition of peace.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 2, Ch 2)Download this episode (right click and save)
Imagine this situation. You live next to an ATM machine. Obviously, it dispenses cash to those who have a bank account. After swiping the card and entering in the corresponding PIN number, a series of prompts asks how much money will be withdrawn. You can’t withdraw more money than you have in your account.
In this case, let’s say that the machine dispenses unlimited cash. Just for you; not for anyone else. There is no account needed. You won’t get in trouble, either. In this make believe situation, you can withdraw as much money as you want, whenever you need it.
Now that the hypothetical is established, what would the result be? Would you find happiness? Imagine also that there is no effect on inflation. The price of goods won’t rise as a result of your having an unlimited cash flow.
We can look to the Shrimad Bhagavatam for answers. Also known as the Bhagavata Purana, it is the ripened fruit of Vedic literature. It is sufficient for resolving any issue, but especially those that go beyond birth and death. The soul is what gives life; it is the spark of energy necessary for an otherwise dull and lifeless body to function.
Within the Bhagavatam is the story of the Syamantaka jewel. Interestingly, the description of this historical incident is almost one hundred percent analogous to the situation of having unlimited cash. There were tangible results to having the jewel, and there was something much more valuable around as well: Shri Krishna.
1. The luster of all the gold in the world is defeated by Shri Krishna
The Syamantaka jewel was a gift from the sun-god to the king named Satrajit. Though a king, he lived within the jurisdiction of Dvaraka, which had Shri Krishna as the acknowledged leader. Satrajit worshiped and pleased the sun-god, and so he was rewarded with this amazing jewel. The Syamantaka could produce a huge amount of gold each day.
Satrajit was so taken by the jewel that he carried it with him through the city. People mistook him for the sun-god. Pure gold has an amazing luster, but actually it is nothing in comparison to the Supreme Lord. The spiritual effulgence known as Brahman is actually the light emanating from the amazingly large and transcendental body of Shri Krishna. The individual spirit souls are part of the Brahman light, and so Krishna is automatically the sum total of everything spiritual and more. As He says in the Bhagavad-gita, in His realm there is no need for external lighting.
“That abode of Mine is not illumined by the sun or moon, nor by electricity. One who reaches it never returns to this material world.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 15.6)
2. Gold brings false pride
Just imagine. Satrajit had God Himself living nearby. There was no need to get distracted. Krishna is the greatest order supplier. He creates the universes effortlessly through His expansion of Narayana, who is also known as Vishnu. Narayana simply lies down. When He exhales, everything manifests. The “everything” includes the many universes, the component planets, and the population of creatures within. When Vishnu exhales, everything that was created gets annihilated.
Satrajit became falsely proud due to the Syamantaka jewel. He established a temple for the worship of the jewel. This led to the huge amounts of gold produced newly each day. It was like having the ATM dispensing unlimited cash. Through acquiring such wealth a person easily forgets the temporary nature of life. What gets created must eventually be destroyed. The false pride known as ahankara only becomes purified through identifying oneself as servant of Shri Krishna, purely and without motive. Krishna can be served in many other forms as well, such as Vishnu, Rama and Narasimha. Even respect for the impersonal energy known as Brahman goes a long way towards purifying the consciousness.
3. Gold brings increased danger
There is the ahankara issue, and that in itself leads to rebirth. But even while having the Syamantaka jewel there was so much danger. The jewel became something like a hot potato, with so much envy and jealousy around him. Satrajit’s brother took it with him once and was then killed by a lion. Jambavan killed the lion and took the jewel.
Rumors then circulated that Krishna was jealous of Satrajit and had made a plot to take the jewel from him. To fix the situation, Krishna went out looking for it. He defeated Jambavan in a wrestling match, getting the jewel back and then returning it to Satrajit. Later on a bad character came and killed Satrajit in the middle of the night to take the jewel. That character ran away, giving the jewel to Akrura right before he fled. Krishna killed the bad character and eventually proved to everyone that Akrura now possessed it.
Material existence is built on kama, which is sense gratification. Uncontrolled it turns into lust, and when there is too much lust there is loss of intelligence. That is why so many bad things happened with the amazing amount of gold possessed by the worshipers of the jewel.
4. Krishna protects His devotees
The same danger is absent when there is intimate association with the Supreme Lord. Satrajit and others had the choice available. They didn’t have to go far. They could either worship the jewel or worship Krishna. The attachment to the gold was so strong that people went as far as to tarnish the reputation of Krishna Himself.
The Lord protects His devotees. He fixed the situation with the Syamantaka jewel. In the Bhagavatam a blessing is granted to anyone who hears the story. They are protected from defamation. Of course the larger benefit is increased consciousness of the all-attractive one. He possesses a level of greatness with no possible equivalent in gold or other valuable items.
What if possessing amount untold,
Like open ATM, so much in gold.
From there happiness to see?
Actually more miserable to be.
Example of Syamantaka take,
How soon a hot potato to make.
Krishna having luster beyond measure,
Gold like dust in face of that treasure.