Relevant Question, Absolute Answer

By Srila B.R. Sridhara Deva Goswamisukadeva and maharaja p

yac chrotavyam atho japyam, yat karttavyam nrbhih prabho
smartavyam bhajaniyam va, bruhi yad va viparyayam

Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.19.38

King Pariksit asked: “We are exercising our senses in this plane but what will be most beneficial for us? We are receiving things from outside to meet the demand of our internal self, but what will be the best utility of our senses? Which things should we imbibe within ourselves for our best interest? We are always accepting something from the environment for the inner interest. Now how should we utilize our senses, the channel of our knowledge, that they may best help our inner interest?”

Pariksit Maharaja put his question to Sukadeva, and Sukadeva accepted saying,

variyan esa te prasnah, krto loka-hitam nrpa
atmavit-sammatah pumsam, srotavyadisu yah parah

Srimad-Bhagavatam 2.1.1

Yes, it is a real question because two inherent signs of inquiry are here. Firstly, it is a general question: to find the solution is necessary for every one of us, and the answer to it will help us all. Secondly, one who already has proper knowledge of his own self will also accept this question to be most relevant. So, one sanction comes from the subjective realm, and another sanction is that it is good for the whole public. Such questions are real questions of universal interest, the solution of which will help every one of the inquirers, and not only with any partial or provincial solution, but with the absolute solution which will help solve the problem of the whole. It is the question that should be asked by anyone and everyone in this world. So, yes your question is bonafide. It will solve not only your problem but it will give the general solution to the whole problem of the entire world. This is the question to be solved, the only question. The general population does not have any perfect knowledge and so does not know what is what and therefore their inquiry may be faulty. One may therefore conclude that the public is always wrong. Since the masses are ignorant their questions may not be the proper ones. The demand of the majority may be erroneous. It cannot be admitted that vox populi is vox dei.

So it is necessary that there be intrinsic purity in the question. Therefore Sukadeva said that those who really understand their own position will also accept and give their sanction to this question as to what is our best benefit and how we can utilize our senses to draw knowledge from the environment so it will help us to the best advantage. It is passed by the subject-committee of the higher section who has faultless knowledge. They are infallible and they will give their sanction that this is a relevant question.

Sukadeva Goswami continued, “So, from two sides, from the upper and lower, they will accept your question as relevant. I am going to answer. You try to listen with perfect attention.”

srotavyadini rajendra, nrnam santi sahasrasah
apasyatam atma-tattvam, grhesu grha-medhinam

Srimad-Bhagavatam 2.1.2

“Oh King, there is no end of ways by which we can utilize our senses. There are thousands of engagements by which all the senses are kept so busy that they find no time for leisure. They are mostly all engaged in serving those that do not know the true necessity of the real self. Those who do not know their own want and home are travelling in a foreign land endlessly working to try to satisfy their curiosity. There is no proper diagnosis but they are very busy in treatment: that is the situation to be found in the world. But self-realization, atma-tattvam, is such an important thing.”

One of proper, normal understanding will therefore accept the necessity of revealed truth. Revealed truth does not rely on the majority consideration of the abnormal thinkers. Srauta-pantha means revealed truth, and that must come from the perfect realm: from God Himself. So here it is established the indispensable necessity of the Srauta-pantha, the method of revelation. It must come from the perfect realm, from sarvajna, from the quarter of omniscience. We find that there are thousands of engagements in those that are unconscious of their own real interest. They are very busy, but very busy about nothing. What do we see if we look around?

nidraya hriyate naktam, vyavayena ca va vayah
diva carthehaya rajan,  kutumba-bharanena va

Srimad-Bhagavatam 2.1.3

“At night we see two things; either sleep or playing with women. And the day-time is spent either in search of money or by serving the relatives.”

dehapatya-kalatradisv, atma-sainyesv asatsv api
tesam pramatto nidhanam, pasyann api na pasyati

Srimad-Bhagavatam 2.1.4

“In this world we tend to group with those we can exploit. We are surrounded by those who supply our sense enjoyment, our sense pleasure. We are fully engrossed in their interest and only use them for our own sense pleasure. We are so much engrossed in that sort of false duty that we have not the leisure to find out about our own death that is drawing near towards us. Seeing, but not seeing. It is a plain thing: everyone is going to the jaws of death with the mood, I see but still I can’t see. I don’t care to see and so I don’t see. And this is the peculiar position I hold now. The danger, the final danger is approaching and I am asleep to that. I don’t care to take notice of that greater duty. What can be stranger than this?”

King Pariksit had only seven days more to live but Sukadeva Goswami told him: “You say that you have no time, only seven days. But that does not matter at all. Seven days is time enough, only the necessity is your particular attention for the solution. Only a moment is enough. There are so many trees, mountains and hills; they are living years and years, ages after ages, but to no benefit. So what is the necessity of such a long life? It is not a question of longevity or a question of time but what is necessary is the attention to one’s own self: ‘What am I and what is mine?’ With that sort of attitude our attention will be drawn to our own real interest. That is the factor, and not the question of time. There is enough time.”

So seven days is enough, but the peculiar necessity is to find out how our attention can be drawn towards the reality. When that is discovered, then and there our real interest will be satisfied. And only by sadhu-sanga, the association of the higher, highly realized souls, is that possible.

khatvango nama rajarsir, jnatveyattam ihayusah
muhurtat sarvam utsrjya, gatavan abhayam harim

Srimad-Bhagavatam 2.1.13

In history we find a precedent in Maharaja Khatvanga. He had only one moment left of his life but he so perfectly engaged himself that he gave himself forever to the Lord. Without any reservation he surrendered to the feet of the Lord and he achieved the desired end. He achieved Hari. And who is Hari? Abhayam: when we get him, then all apprehension, all fear and every undesirable thing will be vanquished forever. That is the meaning of ‘Hari.’ ‘Hari’ means sat-cit-ananda, eternal existence, perfect consciousness and also the fulfillment of life in ecstatic joy. Maharaja Khatvanga achieved all that in a moment!

sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja
Bhagavad-gita 18.66

So the problem is how we can surrender, giving up our mundane attraction and our ignorance about our own interest. How can we jump into the Absolute Good – the ocean of our real interest? That is the problem and our questions should be of such a general character. Only there is this one question.

It is admitted by all that everyone wants the maximum happiness whether he be a stone, a tree, or any species up to the demigods, the rsis and munis: That is the only thing to be aspired for. Then how to attain it? What and who is the Lord? That is to be discussed and conceived. What is he? What am I? What is my end? How to reach the goal? What is the destination and how to reach the destination? Sambandha, prayojana and abhidheya. Under these three headings the Vedic scriptures have discussed the whole problem. Who am I? Where am I? Then what is my best benefit—the goal—and how to attain it?

Divine relationship, practice and objective— sambandha, abhidheya and prayojana—it is all to be discussed under these three headings. This is the general question. It is the question of everyone. It is not any partial thing and it has nothing to do with any sectarian or provincial interests, or anything of the kind. No such things can come against this campaign of the Gaudiya Math. Mahaprabhu began His campaign against maya—misunderstanding—and, to the conscious, saner section, which is the very thing of general demand in the world. The standard is not with the insane but it is with the saner section; they all will welcome the movement that was inaugurated by Swami Maharaja over the whole globe. And our Guru Maharaja began that attempt to attack maya, the illusory energy, and to devastate and smash it. This is kirtana, this is preaching. This is harinama. And Mahaprabhu came here with this: “Don’t fly away; don’t run away for fear of maya, misunderstanding.”

Ultimately it is misunderstanding but you want reality, so why should you be afraid? Your basis is a real one – you are standing on fundamental reality so you should not be afraid and run to the jungle or to the cave. Even there, you will also always be afraid that maya will enter. That is not being a bold soldier of the sankirtana party, fearlessly wandering through the length and breadth of the world and chanting about Krsna, about truth. Truth! Take up that missionary work and maya won’t venture to approach you, for maya is misunderstanding. By repeating your Krsna consciousness to others you will generate the truthful consciousness. With the help of Krsna consciousness you will be able to do away with everything infectious by spreading and distributing the disinfecting substances. That will be your duty. Be an agent of the disinfecting section, who is throwing around the medicine to disinfect the infectious area. Be such an agent and thereby drive away infection from all around. If you go on in that way then infection cannot approach you. Because you are distributing disinfectant all around you, the infection cannot come to attack you, and at the same time others will also be saved.

There is only one necessity: the necessity to spread Krsna consciousness. And our object is prema. Prema means to acquire more energetic tendency to spread higher and higher levels of Krsna consciousness. ‘Dasa kari’ vetana more deha prema-dhana: prema will help us more intensely to engage in service—to serve, and to get the remuneration as prema. The nature of prema is that it will excite us more and more for service. It will move in a circular way: what we receive as remuneration will be the tendency to produce more service to the object of our reverence. That is premaPrema is not a separate thing from service, but it will help us more and more towards service. So it is continuous, it is dynamic. It is not that, “I have acquired prema, now I am like a king and shall enjoy it—now there is no longer any necessity of service.” Such a stage will never come; rather prema will promote the speed and quality of the service. Love will actuate us more and more towards the service of the object of our love. So service will acquire prema, and prema will induce us to serve. That is our object of life.

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