“Mother Yashoda further told Krishna: My dear son, because of playing all day, Your body has become covered with dust and sand. Therefore, come back, take Your bath and cleanse Yourself. Today the moon is conjoined with the auspicious star of Your birth. Therefore, be pure and give cows in charity to the brahmanas.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 10.11.18)Download this episode (right click and save)
It’s baffling to say the least. At the outset the emphasis is on acknowledging Ishvara, which is one of countless Sanskrit words to describe the Almighty. Ishvara is important to know because it means a great controller. There is a controller within the body, also known as Ishvara. But God is different. He is the controller of controllers.
“The bewildered spirit soul, under the influence of the three modes of material nature, thinks himself to be the doer of activities, which are in actuality carried out by nature.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 3.27)
There is the instruction to remember that the living entity, the individual Ishvara, is not the doer. They make the choice to act, but it is nature which must cooperate for any result to manifest. That nature can block something as basic as the decision to get up in the morning.
And of course everything in nature comes from God. Vedanta, which is the conclusion of knowledge-gathering, focuses on the Supreme Lord. At the same time, we learn that those on the highest platform of understanding forget that God the person is actually who He is. They have a different understanding. The supposed forgetfulness in that instance is intentional, as there are amazing benefits that result.
1. No more asking for stuff
You’re on a family trip. You’re excited about reaching the destination, but the travel itself isn’t so much fun. Even though your father has just purchased a new car with the comfort level of the very trip in mind, there is so much fighting. Your brother wants to sit where you want to sit. Your mother keeps picking at your father about every decision he makes.
As you are a child to the father, you have no problem asking him for things. “Stop here. I want to eat this. The hotel you chose stinks. Pick a better place.” It is only natural to have this kind of relationship. The person in power has the ability to grant desires.
And so the natural tendency is to approach God to fulfill orders. “O Lord, please come through for me this time. I promise I’ll never ask for anything ever again.” He can certainly supply any order, but this kind of relationship isn’t very blissful, to either side.
The residents of the spiritual world who interact with God the person actually forget His position as the highest living entity that exists. They interact with Him in transcendental mellows, known as rasas. Rasa is a taste, and so with each kind of relationship there is a unique kind of enjoyment.
People like mother Yashoda don’t ask anything from God. He is her son, in His adorable form of Shri Krishna. She never asks for money, beauty, wealth, or good health. She doesn’t ask to be liberated from the cycle of birth and death.
2. No more viewing in awe and reverence
There is still a rasa in the preliminary stage, where you view God as God. The mood is known as shanta, which can be translated as “neutrality.” It’s something like being awestruck by an important personality. You are afraid to offend them, so you worship from a distance. You know that God is great, and so you don’t want to do anything that might upset Him. He has so much power.
The mood of awe and reverence is there with Lord Vishnu, who is the expansion of God residing in the Vaikuntha planetary realm. Vaikuntha is like the real heaven; it never gets destroyed. Its very name means “free of anxieties.”
Krishnaloka is also in Vaikuntha, but it is the place where the higher rasas are tasted. Mother Yashoda is not in awe of her son. In fact, she is not afraid of Him at all. She will call out for Him to return home from the fields, where He plays during the day with His friends and His elder brother Balarama.
3. Urgency for service
Mother Yashoda, who is in vatsalya-rasa, has an urgency in service. Not only does she love her son, but she thinks He will not be able to survive without her love. She has this urgency that can never be present when there is fear of God. If you’re looking for Him to fulfill your material desires, then you won’t feel anxiety about insufficiently caring for Him.
4. Greed in service
There is plenty of God to go around. A classic example is the rasa-dance. Shri Krishna met the gopis in the forest in the middle of the night, when the moon was at its fullest and brightest in the entire year. The gopis wanted desperately to enjoy with Krishna in the mood known as madhurya. This word translates to “sweetness,” and with the gopis it means the most intimate relationship.
There were many gopis and only one Krishna, and each wanted to feel like they were with Him alone. Thus the all-attractive one expanded Himself and engaged in a wonderful dance, which has been famously depicted in artwork ever since. This kind of greed is not harmful, since the strong desire to enjoy with God is very heartwarming. This greed doesn’t take away from anyone else’s opportunity for service, either.
5. More bliss
At first you learn about God and the difference between matter and spirit. This is to escape maya, or illusion. The more knowledgeable you are, the happier you will be. With the proper understanding of the imperishability of spirit, there is no reason to fear death.
In Krishnaloka, the forgetfulness of Krishna’s supreme standing actually brings more bliss. The relationships have no comparison in the material world. All the residents are pure of heart, as that is the lone requirement for reaching that sacred land. As soon as there is a hint of desire to compete with God, to ask Him for benedictions for the purpose of continued forgetfulness, the living entity goes to a different land, where the bliss is never the same.
Purpose after human birth earning,
Individual and Supreme Spirit learning.
That outcomes not from me alone,
Sanction from highest authority known.
But not the end, still higher to go,
In bhakti of His Divinity not to know.
Like Yashoda with utmost love feeding,
And gopis quickly into forest night proceeding.