By Chaitanya Kishore Das
One of the most important days in a person’s life is his Birthday. This day is celebrated and cherished by everyone with special treats and gatherings from families and friends. Generally a Birthday is celebrated by cutting a well decorated and nicely prepared cake, by blowing the candles and making a wish. Then friends and family wish the person whose birthday is being celebrated followed by drinks, eating and partying with music and dance. This constitutes a successful Birthday Party.
Devotees on the contrary would celebrate the Birthday by inviting devotees to their homes, having a kirtan, Krsna Katha and distributing prasadam, which is quite revolutionary from the conventional approach.
People in general wish the Birthday boy or girl that they may live many more years, and this day may come again and again , and Devotees sing “May you never take Birth Again” . This may seem odd and strange to a common man the whole process of devotee’s celebration of this Day which is so special and dear to a common man. However Devotees are aware of the importance of this birth in the human form, based on the teachings of the Vedic Literature like Bhagavad Gita and Srimad Bhagvatam, this birth in the human form is extremely rare and has a purpose behind it.
Rare Human Form
As per the verse Jalaja nava-lakshani sthavara laksha-vimsati, krimayo rudra-sankhyakah, aksinam dasa-lakshanam. Pasavah trimsal-lakshani, manushah catur-lakshani only 400,000 species of life forms are humans, which is like 5% of the total number of species. Out of total population of living entities in the entire universe only 5% are humans. Prabhupada explains in many of his lectures that out of this many are uncivilized humans, aborigines, who although have a human body , do not possess a developed consciousness to understand the higher principles like animals. Out of the remaining human population around 90% in today’s world are after material possessions i.e. they are karmis who would perform karma kanda activities to achieve better sense gratification and for that purpose some may follow some type of religion. Most of the religions in today’s world do not touch upon the ultimate goal, the main goal of religions today is to achieve heavenly planets by following them. Out of this some who manage to understand the futility of material world become jnanis and become liberated in Brahma jyoti and out of this some people who are perfected beings rarely one person knows Krsna in Truth, which is the ultimate purpose of this human form of life. As explained in Bhagvad Gita
kascid yatati siddhaye
yatatam api siddhanam
kascin mam vetti tattvatah
“Out of many thousands among men, one may endeavor for perfection, and of those who have achieved perfection, hardly one knows Me in truth.” ( B.G. 7.3)
Purpose of Human Form
Statistics above shows the rare opportunity of the human life in addition to this, as modern science also agrees, humans possess a more refined intelligence and a higher developed consciousness. Vedic literature informs that these facilities are given to the human form in order to enquire about the higher absolute Truths. First aphorism of Vedanta Sutra says Athato Brahma Jijnasa (SB 1.1.1). Which means now enquire about the Absolute Truth, Prabhupada beautifully explains this as Now that you have this very rare human birth your business is to enquire about the Absolute Truth. Prabhupada also mentions in many of his lectures and purports that if one is not enquiring about Absolute Truth in this human form of life he is no better than an animal. These statements are confirmed by Srimad Bhagavatam which says, Ahara-nidra-bhaya-maithunam ca samanyam etad pasubhih naranam.
Once Prabhupada was asked, that it is so difficult to follow the four regulative principles strictly, to this Prabhupada replied, then you are an animal. So this implies that as per the Vedic standards one who does not come to the platform of following the four regulative principles namely no illicit sex, no meat eating, no intoxication and no gambling, he is not even considered a human let alone becoming a devotee. Thus during hariman initiation devotees vow to follow these regulative principles throughout life to at least come to the platform of goodness of becoming a human being in order to progress further in spiritual life.
Unfortunately in today’s environment people are so much accustomed to these vices that this seems an impossible task for majority of the population. A common man today when he sees devotees seriously dedicating their lives to follow these regulations, he thinks that the devotee has gone crazy and killing his life. However the scriptures inform us that even though we possess a human body , if it is utilized to engage in the base animalistic propensities of eating, sleeping, mating and defending than the quality is no better than that of an animal. One has to rise above these animalistic instincts.
How to Utilize Human Form
In order to achieve the purpose of human form, one has to come to the human platform, by trying to elevate ones consciousness to goodness by following the four regulative principles namely no illicit sex, no meat eating, no intoxication and no gambling. This will prepare the consciousness eligible to receive the transcendental knowledge. In parallel to this one has to practice positive engagements of yoga especially bhakti yoga for this age , Simplest and the Quickest way in this age is to Chant the holy names of the Lord, Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare/ Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare. This will cleanse the heart of all anarthas. Anarthas refer to the dirt of envy, pride, anger, lust, greed and false ego. Many a times even though at the gross level we abstain from the four sinful activities, owing to our unclean heart we fall prey to vices like criticism, faultfinding, pride etc. which are subtle roadblocks to our progress towards achieving the purpose of human life. If devotees start criticizing each other and finding faults with each other, this provides a bad example to common people and hence there is very little hope for common man. It is a great responsibility of every devotee following Prabhupada to not let our material conditionings of unconstructive and unauthorized criticism spoil the atmosphere in devotee communities to set an exemplary example for the world to follow. Prabhupada mentioned on many occasions, that Maya cannot destroy this movement from outside forces, but if devotees fight within themselves this movement will be finished in no time. So as Prabhupada’s descendants it is very important of everyone to co-operate and maintain harmony in spite of disagreements that is the sacrifice of a real devotee for higher purpose. If everyone understand this point and makes an attempt to avoid wasting time judging, criticizing or finding faults in devotees or for that matter any living entity, it will be easy to work towards the goal of human life, often we get distracted by our own conditionings and prejudices which mind creates on unimportant matters, without realizing that this is taking away a lot of valuable time and energy from our lives. On the contrary if we make it a habit to glorify the person we will soon get rid of our tendency to criticize of find faults.
In this age of Kali as Bhagvatam mentions
kaler dosha-nidhe rajann
asti hy eko mahan gunah
kirtanad eva krishnasya
mukta-sangah param vrajet ( S.B. 12.3.51)
Which means, chanting of Hare Krsna Hare Krsna krsna Krsna Hare Hare/ Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare is the only and most efficient way of achieving our goal of life in the human form.
In Conclusion, the way a Birthday is celebrated by devotees is based on knowledge of the valuable opportunity in this human form of life. Although being in the material world itself is a bad bargain, devotees make the best use of it by engaging this human form at every possible occasion to propound and expand the Yuga dharma of chanting the holy names of the Lord, which is the only means in this age of Kali.
harer nama harer nama
harer namaiva kevalam
kalau nasty eva nasty eva
nasty eva gatir anyatha ( C.C Adi 17.21)
“In this Age of Kali there is no other means, no other means, no other means for self-realization than chanting the holy name, chanting the holy name, chanting the holy name of Lord Hari”.