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Walking Wood by the Yamuna River

Saturday, 12 April 2008 / Published in Bhurijana dasa, Quotes / 4,546 views

By Bhurijana dasa

By the Yamuna River, an elderly Vrajavasi lady still follows the ancient system and bears upon her head the burden of a large bundle of wood.

Clearly, she carries her load by the mercy of Krsna, for not a blade of grass moves independently of Him. But yet, also clearly, the ability and strength to carry her bundle is not the full limit of Krsna’s mercy.

Srila Prabhupada told of a distressed yet faithful, wood-carrying lady’s prayers to Krsna in a 1974 Bhagavatam lecture in Bombay. May his clear words purify my heart!

He said:

“Krsna can fulfill any purpose you desire. It is not very difficult for Him, because He is almighty, full with all opulences. So if you want something, material happiness, from Krsna, it is not very difficult for Krsna. He can give you mukti even. But to ask from Krsna anything else than bhakti is foolishness. That is foolishness.

My Guru Maharaja used to give this example: just like if you go to a rich man and he says, “Now whatever you like, you can ask from me. I shall give you,” then if you ask him that “You give me a pinch of ash,” is that very intelligent?

Similarly, there is a story, that one old woman in the forest… I think it is in Aesop’s Fable or somewhere. So she was carrying a big bundle of dry wood, and somehow or other, the bundle fell down. It was very heavy. So the old woman became very much disturbed, “Who will help me to get this bundle on my head?”

So she began to call God, “God, help me.” And God came, “What you want?””Kindly help me to get this bundle on my head.” Just see. God came to give a benediction, and she wanted “Give this bundle again on my head.”

So we are doing the same thing.

When we go to God we ask Him, “Kindly give me the bundle on my head. My family may become happy. I may have a large amount of money to enjoy material things.” We ask that. That is our foolishness.

Caitanya Mahaprabhu teaches us, therefore, that actually, if you want something from God, that should be only begging for His service.

This Hare Krsna maha-mantra means addressing God, “Krsna,” “Hari,” and His energy Hara, Srimati Radharani or Laksmiji, Hare: “O this internal potency of Krsna…” ….So this Hare Krsna mantra is first addressing the energy, the internal energy, potency, of Krsna. Hare….”O my Lord,O my Lord’s energy.”So when you address somebody, you want to ask something. So if they reply, “Yes, why you are calling?” then we’re calling, “Please engage me in Your service.” This is the prayer, not that “Give me money” or “Give me beautiful wife” or many followers. This is material hankering.”

Everyone wants some prestigious position, labha puja pratistha, some material profit, labha, and prestigious position so that people will give him salaam, minister, president, and to become very famous, historically very famous. These are material hankerings. But Caitanya Mahaprabhu says, “No.” Na dhanam na janam na sundarim kavitam vajagadisa kamaye [Cc. Antya 20.29, Siksastaka 4]. We don’t want. This is animitta bhakti. Nimitta, for some certain reason. If you become that kind of bhakta, then you are not a suddha-bhakta. You are avrddha-bhakta, a polluted bhakta.

Pure bhakti is anyabhilasita-sunyam [Brs. 1.1.11], zero.”….The Buddha philosophy teaches nirvana, devoid of all material desires, that much. He does not give any more. Sankaracarya gives further, more, that brahma-nirvana, that “You become desireless of this material world, but you enter, merge into Brahman.” That is called brahma-nirvana. And the Vaisnava philosopher says that “You make null and void all your material desires, enter into Brahman and be engaged in the service of the Lord. “This is called bhakti….This bhakti-yoga, one who is actually employed, engaged in pure devotional service, animitta, without any motives, without any material purpose, that is real spiritual service.”

5 comments

  1. 0
    Suresh das ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    One thing I have learned is to always ask God for everything that I need. What I mean to say is practice developing a dependence on God for everything. See how God is providing all our needs. Learn to see how all things that are beneficial or are meant to teach us, are coming to us directly from God. We must develop the faith that we are each lovingly cared for by the Supreme.

    We must of course be grateful for what each of us has been given, and not covet or desire what others enjoy. Isavasyam idam sarvam – I chant this verse each time I see someone else who has more material enjoyment or greater material possessions than I have, so I won’t feel so envious and disappointed. I have been given the perfect quantity of everything by the Lord. Because I am a neophyte devotee, if I were given any more, surely I would forget Lord Krishna, and fall down. It is very advanced consciousness to not ask anything material from Lord Krishna, a consciousness that can’t easily be imitated. If we are not allowed to ask God for all our needs, then how can we hope to develop our constant relationship with God?

    Gradually, as we develop in our spiritual life, and we learn more and more about bhakti-yoga, our desires will become more mature. It is only due to lack of education that a person asks for paltry things from God. I have also noticed that often when I pray for material things they don’t come. We have to have a mature understanding of how the material world works. I have found I can pray and pray for something for years without it coming. I have found that if I instead work for what I want, the results often come through work. It is not a guarantee that I can get what I want through my work, but because Lord Krishna is the supreme sanctioning authority, whenever I do achieve success through my work, I know my success is a gift from God.

  2. 0
    Akruranatha ( User Karma: -11 ) says:

    A very good article, and a fine response from Suresh.

    It is one thing to know theoretically that all we really need is devotional service. It is quite another to actually live our lives that way.

    Hillary Clinton out campaigning recently quoted Benjamin Franklin: “‘Well done’ is better than ‘well said’.”

    Whatever we need is actually being supplied by the Lord. Whatever we think we are getting from demigods or from our own endeavor is really ultimately coming from Krishna. But do we really have that vision?

    Suresh makes a great point, that Krishna gives us what we need, not what we *think* we need. People generally think it would be so nice if they unexpectantly inherited great wealth or won some lottery. I often foolishly think like that. But I know theoretically that it would probably be bad for me.

    People think, “If I was a billionaire I could do so many nice things and all the problems that vex me could be easily resolved.” But we can already do the nicest thing: chant Hare Krishna offenselessly and induce others to chant.

    And many problems will not be resolved by unlimited money: we still cannot stop disease and old age; we still cannot win the respect or love we crave from family members and others; we still may not have the physical beauty or education we desire, or the peace of mind.

    There are special counselors and therapists for people who have become wealthy quickly and discovered it was not what it was cracked up to be.

    If we think about it there is really not that much we truly need, as opposed to desire. I have a Corolla but think I need a Lexus. I have a flat screen TV but think I need Hi-Def.

    It is harder when we think about people who are profoundly materially distressed: who cannot afford the medicine that will save their baby’s life, who have no access to clean water, or food. The material world is not pretty and we should become captivated by hearing about Krishna’s abode where there is no distress. (BG 15.6 purport) Even Brahma’s life will eventually come to an end.

    The idea of work producing results quickly reminds me of B.G. 4.12 “ksipram hi manuse loke siddhir bhavati karma ja.” Krishna does not advise us to stop working (we can’t even maintain our body without work), but to learn to make our work transcendental by dovetailing it in devotional service.

    And when we are really mature, we may become animitta, “ananya-cetah”, unalloyed bhaktas. There is no greater reward.

  3. 0
    Suresh das ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    There is much difficulty in asking for anything from Lord Krishna in return for our service. Everyone in the material world is more or less attached to receiving a result for their efforts. That is the normal consciousness of almost any ordinary man. The problem comes from the fact that virtually none of us knows what is really good for us. We can not see past, present, or future events, so we don’t really know what is actually beneficial for us individually, or what the outcome of events will be. Say we desire that the results of our service go not to benefit ourselves, but are offered instead to our family members. The Srimad Bhagavatam states “who actually is your mother and who is your father?” We have had so many fathers and mothers throughout so many unlimited lifetimes, so to which family member should the benefit be offered to? That is why it is best to cultivate the mode of goodness, by not asking for any benefit, and leaving all results up to the will of the Lord.

  4. 0
    Akruranatha ( User Karma: -11 ) says:

    Whether one has all desires or no desires or desires liberation, one should worship the Supreme Personality of Godhead with bhakti yoga in great determination.

    Knowing that we do not necessarily know what is good for us is important, and knowing that Krishna is really our best friend and knows exactly what is good for us as well as all past, present and future is also important. And we have Prabhupada’s instructions that only pure devotional service is really good for us and that approaching the Lord for anything else is unintelligent.

    The story “Deliverance of Lord Siva” in the Krishna book answers King Parikshit’s question about why devotees of Lord Siva, the renounced ascetic, are often materially opulent, whereas devotees of opulent Lord Vishnu are often materially impoverished. One part of the answer is that Krishna is more kind, that He does not fulfill foolish desires of His supplicants (like that demon whom Siva gave the power to crack people’s skulls by touching them).

    We might disclose in our prayers that we have some notion that something will help our progress in devotional life, but we should humbly admit that we do not know and leave it up to the Lord to grant us whatever will help us become pure devotees.

    Remember how Srila Prabhupada let us pray, during his illness, “Dear Lord Krishna, if You so desire, please save Srila Prabhupada”? We can try to remember that even though the Lord is maintaining us and we are dependent on His mercy, He is not our order supplier. We are His servants.

    The story of Prahlada Maharaja is instructive: he did not want to take any boon, because he was a pure devotee. He was not seeking anything in exchange for his service like some kind of businessman. When pressed, he thought of the welfare of his wicked father, but the Lord assured him that already so many generations of his family were liberated on account of his pure devotional service.

    I might have told this story before (I heard it from Vaisesika): Once Guru Kripa and his party of brahmacaris were in Mayapur trying to go on a preaching tour, but obstacles kept coming. The bus broke, the weather didn’t cooperate, the devotees were sick, the roads were closed, somehow they couldn’t get started.

    Finally Gurukrpa called his boys together and asked, “Has anyone here been praying for something?” One fellow sheepishly admitted, “Maharaja, I have been praying for purification.” Gurukrpa angrily responded: “Idiot! Pray for bhakti.”

  5. 0
    Suresh das ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I heard that Badrinarayan Prabhu said “we must act in life as if there is no God, but always pray to God that there is one.” Those are very sage words. I honestly very much believe too that they are correct. My problem is how do I apply that teaching to my life? In other words how I can I practically apply it. Where is the knowledge that shows how to practically apply it? Srila Prabhupada’s books are filled with the topics of how to practice pure bhakti-yoga, complete dependence on God for everything.

    It reminds me of a saying I used to hear before I became a devotee: “you can’t love anyone else, unless you love yourself”. What a great saying but how can I love myself? Where is the practical methodology that teaches me, and that actually works?

    In Krishna Consciousness there is practical methodology for seeing God everywhere, and for depending on Him for all our needs. In the Vedic Culture, there is perfect methodology for gaining all that we need in life through the performance of sacrifice. We have to convince people, especially in the West, to understand the idea that everything we need can not be provided simply by our own hard labor, from a Godless society, and that we are dependent instead on a higher power, a Supreme Sanctioning Authority, Who fulfills our desires and provides for all our needs.

    We must also convince people who already understand this reality, especially the Indians, that one does not need to worship the demigods themselves for all our needs, because they are only indirectly sanctioning authorities. We must instead completely depend upon Lord Krishna, and at the same time be satisfied by whatever He gives us. That is the philosophy of Krishna Consciousness.

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