Tragedies–preventing them or transcending?
“My close friend ran away with my sister. I feel cheated and my parents are wild”. As the 21 year old sobbed his tale of woe, I was struggling to conceal my own shock, while simultaneously consoling him. Devotees preaching Krishna Consciousness are constantly bombarded with disturbing news. Terrorists bomb the trains, and your friend’s lost his father in the blast. Another man you trusted with has gone crazy, and someone else absconds with devotees’ money. Politicians woo the masses with populist measures while farmers continue to commit suicide. Stock markets crash, friends turn enemies, brother divorces his newly wed wife- there seems to be no end to life’s problems.A challenge facing devotees is to hold on to the sublime teachings of Krishna Consciousness, as our fragile faith is being challenged by terrible natural disasters, human savagery, philosophical hotchpotch, and a reckless enjoyment spree that has left the frenzied moderns, lost and confused. Each month we propose to share with our readers the Krishna Conscious view to life in this world. Some may consider the daily news events as bizarre, yet others may view it as informative, and a few may regard it as a learning experience. Whatever way we look at it, the Krishna Conscious philosophy as presented by Srila Prabhupada enables us to view the myriad events of this world unbiasedly, yet compassionately. Besides, Srila Prabhupada ‘s writings offer a penetrating vision, that’s blunt, yet truthful.
Miseries- the inevitable laws of nature
“Whatever goes up has to come down”, stated Newton, in his Law of Gravitation. Similarly, the Vedas declare, “You cannot escape seven miseries”- a universal law, applicable irrespective of who we are and what we do in life. The scriptures reveal the seven miseries as birth, death, old age, disease, miseries inflicted by -our own body and mind, other living entities, and natural disturbances.
“But I am not going to be bogged down by this doomsday kind of talks. Be positive!”
Wishing away these miseries in the name of being optimistic doesn’t solve the problem. Srila Prabhupada compared this attitude with that of an ostrich who sensing a lion nearby, digs his head under the ground. He hopes the lion wouldn’t see him. By avoiding discussion on these topics we do not necessarily transcend them.
kalau nasta-drsam esa
Seeking relief- is it possible?
As life unfolds one unpleasant event after another, many in a desperate hope for relief succumb to gratifying the body and mind with a variety of allurements. Yet we remain dissatisfied, and a few go bonkers as well. The numerous pleasure aids act like a painkiller, providing temporary relief but no lasting happiness. In the long run the painkillers fail to remedy the disease. One has to accept a healthy lifestyle and medicines to cure the disease. Similarly unrestricted enjoyment as championed by the modern society gives instant relief, but leaves the disease of perpetual sadness unattended. A healthy lifestyle centered on the medicine of spirituality offers lasting happiness. A devotee seeks shelter of Krishna and attempts to see personal tragedies as Lord’s sweet will. This philosophical understanding coupled with the medicine of chanting the holy names of Krishna keeps him/her sane even as tragedies mercilessly strike.
“But why does the Lord make such cruel laws?”
These God made universal laws ensure that we get fed up of life in this world and seek permanence. By this we transcend troubles, rather than complicate them further by imperfect solutions. A man fallen in a deep dark well needs a kick from below as well as pulling from above to help him get out. Likewise to get us out of this material world and inspire us to return to our original home at Krishna’s abode, the kind Lord arranges this two pointed progrrame- miseries in this material world which motivate us to get out of this world, and attractive presentations of the spiritual world that inspires us positively to seek Krishna.
Can we prevent heavy rains lashing Mumbai again this year? The government is busy working out a disaster management program to handle monsoon floods. Rather than attempting to check rains- an impossible act, we prefer to carry an umbrella. Similarly we can’t avoid the deluge of setbacks and miseries from striking us. We can however keep ourselves protected through the umbrella of a spiritual path. Spiritual endeavors help us bravely face the challenges hurled at us by the material nature.
A spiritual life is centered on chanting the Holy names of Krishna, regular association of devotees, and studying the sacred scriptures like Bhagavad Gita and Srimad Bhagavatam. This purifies our consciousness, keeps the intelligence sharp, and helps us discern illusion from reality. We also have a choice to ignore these spiritual practices, and thereby expose our consciousness to the degrading bombardment by the media that goads us on to seek false bodily pleasures.
Srila Prabhupada cuts through the pretense
Srila Prabhupada’s books expose the fallacious goals of modern civilization, and offer a refreshing alternative.
kṛṣṇe sva-dhāmopagatedharma-jñānādibhiḥ sahakalau naṣṭa-dṛśām eṣaḥpurāṇārko ‘dhunoditaḥ
“This Bhagavata Purana is as brilliant as the sun, and it has arisen just after the departure of Lord Kanea to His own abode, accompanied by religion, knowledge, etc. Persons who have lost their vision due to the dense darkness of ignorance in the age of Kali shall get light from this Puraea” (Srimad Bhagavatam: 1.3.33)
A blind man armed with a sword, running hither thither is dangerous to self and others. If his lost sight is restored however, he can do something constructive with the sword. Similarly the Srimad Bhagavatam reveals that in this dark age of Kali, persons devoid of true spiritual vision will hold responsible positions in society. Their spiritual blindness coupled with wielding the sword of power will spell doom for the general populace and cause unlimited bloodshed. The blindness of the modern society is revealed by the inability of the population, including the leadership, to see beyond the four basic activities of eating, sleeping, mating and defending- a prerogative of the animals. The Scriptures extol humans to seek a spiritual path that illuminates our blinded vision, and guarantees a level of happiness that transcends bodily miseries.
Krishna Consciousness will thus cure this cataract, and help us tread life’s slippery path with caution. Thus equipped with the torchlight of transcendental knowledge, humans can make a tangible contribution to the society, and leave behind a legacy that ushers sanity in an otherwise crazy world.
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