By Swami Abhayananda Tirtha

Going down memory lane…(2003 world cup)

As all politicians, cutting across party lines and personal differences came together and unanimously congratulated the Indian team, the finance minister went a step ahead. Declaring tax exemptions for our heroes, the otherwise unpopular, Mr. Sinha’s decisions raised no eyebrows. On the contrary, the entire nation was united at this momentous hour when India crushing Pakistan to a humiliating defeat, reduced their arch – rivals’ prospects of making into the ‘Super Six’. In Calcutta, the home city of Indian captain, festivities continued until the wee hours. Mumbai, the capital of Pakistan bashing had its ‘Patriots’ flood the streets in a frenzied state of intoxication and madness. 

It’s hard to believe that only a week ago, the same lovers of the game had threatened to burn down the houses of their cricket gods. When their star – studded team lost miserably to Australia (in the first match of the world cup), stone pelting and harassment of their unsuspecting relatives was common news. In Calcutta, a mob carried a coffin containing placards of their fallen heroes and performed the final rites by immersing their ashes in the holy Ganges. The captain’s effigy, garlanded with shoes was paraded through the gullies of Bengal’s capital. Today it’s all forgotten and forgiven. It’s time to rejoice. But for how long?

Extreme emotions even in Vedic history

Although passionate human emotions sway between extremes, both on and off the field, devotees draw parallels from Vedic history. Hiranyakashipu too felt betrayed when his dearmost son dashed all his hopes. Since little Prahlada’s devotion became an impediment to his sense gratification, he lost all sanity. Earlier as he counseled his brother’s widows, he sermonized to them on the dualities of this material world. However, hovering on the sensual platform, his intelligence clouded, he was aghast to see his son’s defiance. Result? Intense love and attachment to son gets transformed to wrath.

“The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: It is lust only, Arjuna, which is born of contact with the material mode of passion and later transformed into wrath, and which is the all-devouring sinful enemy of this world.” (Bhagavad Gita 3.37)

This verse is interesting because just prior to this Arjuna had questioned Krishna, why one is impelled to act sinfully despite being aware of rights and wrongs. Lust, the desire to enjoy independently of Krishna is the reason for conditioned souls to hover from states of flickering happiness to that of delirium and frustration. This desire to enjoy is so deep rooted that one doesn’t give up sense gratificatory pursuits even if he is incapacitated. When senses and abilities pose limitations, the rebellious soul enjoys through others’ achievements. This is nothing but extended sense gratification. Of the 100 crore Indians, hardly eleven make it into the limelight, courtesy media hype and the rest contend themselves by identifying with the Sachins and Sehwags. Expectations rise and as the champions flourish, we relate to their success stories. As they bask on temporary glory, we feel pride and joy. Soon after, being mere mortals, they falter. That’s when, unable to reconcile to the vagaries of the game, much less to the dictates of material nature, the embodied soul protests. The failure of a bunch of mere wood wielding, overweight men evokes bitter memories of one’s own helplessness in confronting the indefatigable material energy. Then, like a restless child, driven by the fickle mind, one gives vent to his frustrations.

Tossed between hankering and lamentation

Dhritarashtra echoes similar sentiments as he enquiries,

“Dhritarashtra said: O Sanjaya, after my sons and the sons of Pandu assembled in the place of pilgrimage at Kurukshetra, desiring to fight, what did they do? ” (Bhagavad Gita 1.1)

His enquiry about ‘my sons’ and ‘sons of Pandu’ as others reveals his partisan attitude. Always turning a blind eye to his son’s

wrongdoings, the visually impaired Dhritarashtra was enjoying the kingly opulences through his crown prince. Hence he tacitly, always supported Duryodhana’s atrocities towards his brother’s children. Later after the Kauravas were vanquished in the great war, Dhritarashtra was crestfallen. Led by Krishna, when the Pandavas came to console their bereaved uncle and aunt, Dhritarashtra used all his prowess to try and kill Bhima in his embrace. Krishna protected Bhima by putting forward his iron statue instead. Choking blood and embarrassed by his outburst, Dhritarashtra’s personality reveals the mindset of a person constantly tossed between hankering and lamentation. In India, even today many fathers raise their children to become doctors or top IAS officers. Their reasoning is, “I couldn’t make it in life, but I will make sure my son fulfils my dream.” One of my friends revealed to me his sister’s plight. She couldn’t wear tight outfits or go partying as a teenager because of the orthodox culture. Today she derives great delight to see her young daughter socialize on weekends.

Uncontrolled enemy- the enemy number one

The unfortunate position of such an enjoyer is revealed in the Srimad Bhagavatam.

“In spite of achieving the power to control in all directions and in spite of enjoying all types of dear sense gratification as much as possible, Hiranayakacipu was dissatisfied because instead of controlling his senses he remained their servant. ” (Srimad Bhagavatam 7.4.19)

Notwithstanding the unlimited facilities for enjoyment, man continues to remain a puppet in the hands of his cruel enemy, the mind. Victimized by lust and an unquenched thirst for sense gratification, he hopes vainly that his idols won’t let him down the next time around. However if he turns towards Krishna, all his innermost desires will be satiated. When Krishna’s senses are satisfied, when He becomes the center of our lives, there is an oceanic flood of ecstasy in our otherwise dull and meaningless existence. Krishna never lets down and being eternally victorious, His Name, Form and Pastimes soothe us of our burning material itches. Meanwhile, the cricket fans are simply waiting to relive those agonizing moments as the Indian team plays yet another match.


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