“Mother Yashoda chased Him to all corners, trying to capture the Supreme Personality of Godhead who is never approached even by the meditations of great yogis. In other words, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna, who is never caught by the yogis and speculators, was playing just like a little child for a great devotee like mother Yashoda.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 9)Download this episode (right click and save)
Theory is nice. You can conceptualize things. You get an idea of what is possible, in every direction. After all, the human being is in the dark when first emerging from the womb. It can barely do anything. Walking, talking, eating, moving, reasoning - these happen by experience.
Theory is based on principles, and those principles come from both descending authoritative word and personal experience. If no one tells me about the seasons, if I am paying enough attention after a few years I will figure out that it is cold in January and warm in July. The same information could have been accepted from someone else, an authority figure.
The Vedas are the knowledge that comes from authority in a descending chain. Consulting the Vedas is the way to save significant time, for there is a race to the finish as soon as birth occurs. Death is guaranteed; nothing can be done to prevent it once birth takes place.
“For one who has taken his birth, death is certain; and for one who is dead, birth is certain. Therefore, in the unavoidable discharge of your duty, you should not lament.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.27)
Before that unknown time arrives, becoming enlightened is beneficial. Then you can make the best use of the human form of body, which the Vedas declare to be the most auspicious. Thankfully, the Vedas provide more than just theoretical information. Mixed in with the philosophy are sterling examples of the best of everything.
Birth happens through the efforts of the parents. A child doesn’t magically appear. Pregnancy is not like catching a cold. Once the child is born, how should it behave? What is the ideal way? Should the parents eventually be ignored? Should the child remain forever dependent?
The Vedas say that the aim of the human life is to become God conscious. In the Shrimad Bhagavatam there is the teaching that one should not become a person of authority, responsible for another, unless they are able to deliver their dependents from the cycle of birth and death.
From this we can deduce that it is the job of the parents to make their children God conscious. The children hopefully will do the same. The Sanskrit word for son is putra. The root meaning to this word is “one who delivers from hell.” The idea is that if the father is really sinful, by the son making offerings in an authorized, religious way after the father has passed on, the father will be saved from suffering for those sins. It is a kind of reward after-the-fact for having raised a pious son.
The Vedas give many examples of great sons. Shri Krishna acted as the perfect son to mother Yashoda and Nanda Maharaja in Vrindavana. This was a special circumstance, where God Himself played the role of putra. This meant that the parents automatically were fully God conscious, just through their parental affection.
Krishna was not always well-behaved. Sometimes He would steal butter from the homes of the neighbors. This wasn’t like going into the fridge, as Vrindavana was a rural community dependent on cow protection. The mothers in the neighboring homes would keep stocks of butter in different rooms. Krishna and His friends would hatch elaborate schemes to break and enter and enjoy the supply. Through adorable pastimes such as these, not only were the parents of Krishna benefitted, but so were the parents of other children in the community.
The father should be God conscious, and so should the mother. Yashoda had so much affection for Krishna that she never stopped thinking of Him. She worked the entire day, helping the family at home. While working, she would compose songs about her amazing child and His activities.
Yet she wasn’t one to spoil Krishna, either. One time He broke a pot of butter in anger, and so Yashoda chased after Him. After Krishna was caught Yashoda tied Him to a mortar as punishment. From that motherly affection Krishna earned the named Damodara.
The aim of the human birth is to become God conscious, but how will that happen unless there is instruction? We can’t learn to speak, read and write properly unless someone teaches us. In the same way, there is the spiritual master, or guru, who carries information of spirit. The formal acceptance of training from the guru is known as the second birth. The first is from the parents. The second is more important, as it signals the departure from the animal way of life.
Who is the best guru? Is there a way to tell, objectively? The Vedas provide many examples. One is Narada Muni. An obvious candidate for a sterling guru would be one who teaches many people. What better way to reach people than by travelling? Narada is fortunate in that he is compelled to go from place to place, not staying anywhere for more than three days. This is the result of a curse he received from Daksha, one of the progenitors of man.
Narada’s disciples are like the best of the best in terms of Vedic scholars, writers and teachers. Originally, the Vedas are one, known as the Veda. They are divided and expanded upon in literature by a person named Vyasadeva. For this he is also known as Veda Vyasa. Vyasadeva’s guru is Narada.
There is also the famous Ramayana, which describes the life and pastimes of Shri Rama, an incarnation of God appearing on earth. The author of the Ramayana is Valmiki. His guru is also Narada. Sometimes even the bad guys are manipulated in the right direction by Narada, to fulfill the Divine destiny. This happened with the king of Mathura, Kamsa. In every way Narada’s association is auspicious.
One of Narada’s unofficial disciples is Parvati, the daughter of the mountain king. In her previous life she was Sati, whose name means “chaste.” A daughter to Daksha, Sati one time could not bear an insult her father directed at Shiva, her husband. She was so upset that she voluntarily entered fire and ended her life. In the subsequent birth she was known as Parvati, and it was her destiny to marry Shiva.
Parvati’s parents learned of this when Narada happened to visit their home. He revealed the future of the beloved daughter. The parents were a little upset at first, but Parvati took the words to heart. She left for the forest to practice amazing austerities, essentially qualifying herself to be married to Shiva.
From Parvati, we get an example of the best kind of wife. She is forever devoted to her husband, who always speaks to her about the glories of Rama. She is like his disciple, and the two live very happily together. Parvati also works, managing the fort-like material creation; a role for which she is known as Durga. But she never acts independently. Everything she does is for the benefit of her husband and the person her husband worships constantly.
The Vedas also give examples of the best of the worst. Today there is the common caricature of the wealthy businessman. All they care about is money. Having one large home is not enough. They have to have multiple properties. The private jet has gold throughout. Only the most beautiful woman will suffice for a wife. If her beauty starts to fade, divorce her and find another, younger woman as a replacement.
We have some examples from the modern day, but the Vedas give the best examples in Hiranyakashipu and Ravana. They were from different time periods, but the underlying mentality was the same. They were both consumed with material power and enjoying the senses. They viewed God the person as the greatest enemy. Indeed, both were originally devotees from the spiritual world who descended to the land of birth and death to play the role of villain perfectly.
From their example we see that there is practically no limit to material opulence. At the same time, there is also limitless anxiety. Neither man was ever at peace. Hiranyakashipu was so scared by his five year old son, who happened to be a devotee of Vishnu. Ravana lost everything by chasing after a married woman.
These examples help the bewildered mind get an idea of what is possible in life. Just as important as whom to emulate is whom to avoid. Be more like Parvati and Yashoda and less like Ravana. Respect a guru like Narada and avoid the counsel of the evil, who can never liberate anyone.
More than just in theory exercise,
Vedas examples of best provide.
Son, father and mother,
Even materialists like no other.
Parvati most ideal wife,
To Shiva dedicating her life.
Human birth for liberation meant,
For that saints like Narada sent.