Sunday, August 27, 2017

Even on the Royal Road

Some things learned from life as a householder:

Regarding the noble adherence to one's prescribed duties, Bhagavad gita 3.34 purport by HDG A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada warns: "One has to follow those rules and regulations, unattached to them, because practice of sense gratification under regulations may also lead one to go astray- as much as there is always the chance of an accident, even on the royal roads. Although they may be very carefully maintained, no one can guarantee that there will be no danger even on the safest road."

The biggest danger is so much material happiness can result that can give rise to false pride, which usually leads to offenses and the risk of rebirth. And there's the danger of complacency, as described in Bhagavad gita 14.6 and purport:

 "The living entities conditioned by material nature are of various types. One is happy, another is very active, and another is helpless. All these types of psychological manifestations are causes of the entities' conditioned status in nature. How they are differently conditioned is explained in ... Bhagavad-gītā. The mode of goodness is first considered. The effect of developing the mode of goodness in the material world is that one becomes wiser than those otherwise conditioned. A man in the mode of goodness is not so much affected by material miseries, and he has a sense of advancement...Actually, in the Vedic literature it is said that the mode of goodness means greater knowledge and a greater sense of happiness.

 "The difficulty here is that when a living entity is situated in the mode of goodness, he becomes conditioned to feel that he is advanced in knowledge and is better than others. In this way he becomes conditioned. The best examples are the scientist and philosopher: each is very proud of his knowledge, and because they generally improve their living conditions, they feel a sort of material happiness. This sense of advanced happiness in conditioned life makes them bound by the mode of goodness of material nature. As such, they are attracted toward working in the mode of goodness, and, as long as they have an attraction for working in that way, they have to take some type of body in the modes of nature. Thus there is no likelihood of liberation, or of being transferred to the spiritual world. Repeatedly, one may become a philosopher, a scientist, or a poet, and, repeatedly, become entangled in the same disadvantages of birth and death. But, due to the illusion of the material energy, one thinks that that sort of life is pleasant."

Repeatedly, for example, one may become a champion for Vedic dharma out of "familial, social and national affections" and miss out on absorption in and entering into Sri Sri Radha Krishna's divine pastimes in Vrndavana. (Bg 15.5-6)

And if there is no sense of urgency to counteract the repetition of birth and death, we can safely guess we're in trouble. A very comfortable life may be every materialist's dream come true, but the reality is how Prahlad Maharja described:

"How can a person who is most affectionate to his family, the core of his heart being always filled with their pictures, give up their association? Specifically, a wife is always very kind and sympathetic and always pleases her husband in a solitary place. Who could give up the association of such a dear and affectionate wife? Small children talk in broken language, very pleasing to hear, and their affectionate father always thinks of their sweet words. How could he give up their association? One’s elderly parents and one’s sons and daughters are also very dear. A daughter is especially dear to her father, and while living at her husband’s house she is always in his mind. Who could give up that association? Aside from this, in household affairs there are many decorated items of household furniture, and there are also animals and servants. Who could give up such comforts? The attached householder is like a silkworm, which weaves a cocoon in which it becomes imprisoned, unable to get out. Simply for the satisfaction of two important senses—the genitals and the tongue—one is bound by material conditions. How can one escape?" -Srimad Bhagavatam 7.6.11-13 "

Another problem is that although we may follow our dharma most carefully, there's no guarantee for always good results. In the material world, a place of calamities, we can expect that disasters must strike. Just look at what happened to King Nrga (SB 10.64) or King Anga (SB .13). Similarly, one may have been most attentive in her domestic duties, but some abuse or other misfortune may befall one or more of her beloved children. Or her good husband may lose their life savings in the course of a bad business deal, or again he may drift into the world of sense gratification. As a result she may lose her friends, status, health, etc.

But if the woman is fortunate to have followed her Krsna conscious sadhana every day in the mean time, she can then think about how bad things can actually be very good; how these things happen for our purification. Queen Kunti aptly said to let the disasters strike because:

 "My Lord, Your Lordship can easily be approached, but only by those who are materially exhausted. One who is on the path of [material] progress, trying to improve himself with respectable parentage, great opulence, high education, and bodily beauty, cannot approach You with sincere feeling."
(Srimad Bhagavatam 1.8.26)

So after all our hard work and many expectations, we should not be surprised nor lose our faith , when things go awry. This should be expected. Getting guru and Krishna's mercy via undergoing the austerity of varnasrama for their pleasure, can grant this realization. And a steadfast taste for the bhakti yoga process gives the power to follow prescribed duties by becoming transcendental to happiness or distress. Or like Srila Prabhupada said, "Unattached to them".  It's like having insurance along the way, in case of accidents.