Christmas is generally viewed as a festive occasion around the world. It is a time for gift-giving, tree decorating, parties, and all around good fun. For many people, it is their favorite time of the year.
Christmas is a religious holiday celebrating the birth of Lord Jesus Christ, and for this reason it is viewed as a time for goodness, peace, and joy. Jesus wanted everyone to become God conscious and to realize the kingdom of God. Having a God conscious society would hopefully lead to peace on earth. Christmas reminds people of that hope, especially since Jesus is viewed as the savior to millions. The time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day is generally accepted as the Holiday Season since both Christmas and Hanukkah occur during that time. Christmas decorations are seen everywhere, with many people lining their houses with festive lights. Driving around suburban neighborhoods, one will see many houses well lit up in hopes of spreading the Christmas cheer to one and all.
The Holiday Seasons is also known for its movies. Since Christmas movies are so popular, film studios always come out with new films around this time of year. There are so many Christmas movies that many cable channels play then non-stop during the month of December. The movies generally all have the same theme: There is some problem within a family that poses a threat to the Christmas celebration. In the end, everything usually works out with the family being together on Christmas and everyone getting what they want from Santa Claus or from their other family members.
These movies are well-received because they are positive in nature. They stand in stark contrast to the realities of day-to-day life. What we know as normal life, going to school or work five days a week, the Vedas describe as karmic. Karma can have several definitions, but it primarily means work performed for a desired result. Not only is the work performed with an intended result, but the laws of nature dictate that such activity must have a consequence, either good or bad.
“The Supreme Lord said, The indestructible, transcendental living entity is called Brahman, and his eternal nature is called the self. Action pertaining to the development of these material bodies is called karma, or fruitive activities.” (Bhagavad-gita, 8.3)
“By the law of karma a common man is perpetually entangled in repeated birth and death…If a karmi performs auspicious acts, he is elevated to the heavenly planets, and if he acts impiously, he is put into a hellish condition of life.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 2, Ch 33)
Karmic activity also means competition. Everyone has different needs and wants, and these desires are bound to overlap. Collisions occur, which then result in fierce competition over the accumulation of wealth and possessions. The vaishyas, the mercantile class of men (businessmen), generally engage in this type of competition. On the surface, living on the platform of karma isn’t necessarily a bad thing. We all have to meet our bodily necessities after all. One is required to work in order to have money to pay for food, clothing, and housing. Yet since karma often falls in the mode of passion, when left unchecked, it can lead to lust and anger.
“While contemplating the objects of the senses, a person develops attachment for them, and from such attachment lust develops, and from lust anger arises.” (Lord Krishna, Bg., 2.62)
This lust can lead people away from honesty, turning them into misers. “I work so hard to accumulate my possessions, why should I be so generous to others? Let them work hard on their own. Also, if I give away my hard earned money, then all my work went to waste.” This sort of thinking is quite common, but it represents a lack of intelligence with respect to how nature works. All of our allotted possessions and fortunes come and go as a result of our actions performed in this life and in previous ones. The karma of others also plays a role. In essence, we are not the doer.
“The bewildered spirit soul, under the influence of the three modes of material nature, thinks himself to be the doer of activities, which are in actuality carried out by nature.” (Bg. 3.27)
We may work very hard to achieve something, but it doesn’t mean that we’ll get it. Other pieces of the puzzle must fall into place for things to work out. Keeping this mind, intelligent people refrain from hoarding their possessions. Knowing that God is the original proprietor of everything, one should not become too attached to their possessions.
Christmas is the one time of the year where even the biggest misers become charitable. That is the lesson of the famous short story, A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens. The main character in the story, Ebenezer Scrooge, starts off as a cheapskate, but slowly changes his ways during Christmas time after he is visited by three ghosts.
In the real world, the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future aren’t needed. Christmas is well received by most. People spread good cheer during Christmas through many ways, with one of them being music. Christmas carols are very popular. These songs are upbeat and positive in nature. They glorify Jesus Christ and all other good things relating to Christmas time. Many radio stations play Christmas music non-stop during the Holiday Season. Famous recording artists also make albums dedicated to Christmas.
“Devotees of the Supreme Lord are twenty-four hours daily engaged in glorifying the pastimes of the Supreme Lord. Their hearts and souls are constantly submerged in Krishna, and they take pleasure in discussing Him with other devotees.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bg. 10.9 Purport)
Christmas time is certainly nice, but why not spread good cheer throughout the year? This is the primary teaching of the Vedas, and more specifically, that of Shri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. The Vedas tell us that the original form of God is Lord Krishna. He is referred to as Bhagavan, meaning He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He is a person just like us, except He is much greater. God is so great that He expands Himself into the hearts of every living entity as the Supersoul, or Paramatma. He further expands Himself into the all pervading impersonal energy known as Brahman. The source of Brahman and Paramatma is Krishna and that is what makes Him God.
“The total material substance, called Brahman, is the source of birth, and it is that Brahman that I impregnate, making possible the births of all living beings, O son of Bharata.” (Lord Krishna, Bg. 14.3)
The Lord personally appears on earth from time to time. On the surface, it seems that the Lord comes simply to annihilate the miscreants, but that is not the real reason. The good and the bad both rise and fall on their own as a result of the forces of nature. God also can send His authorized representatives to deal with the demons. The real reason purpose for His incarnating is to give protection to His devotees. If they are harassed and their devotional service interrupted, God personally comes to save them. In His incarnation as Lord Rama, Krishna gave protection to the great sages living in the forest at the time. The sages were being harassed by Rakshasa demons that would come and disrupt their sacrifices and eat their flesh after killing them. In the Dvapara Yuga, Lord Krishna personally appeared to deliver Devaki and Vasudeva from the clutches of the demon Kamsa.
Around five hundred years ago, the Lord appeared in disguise in Navadivipa, India. Taking birth as Lord Chaitanya, God played the role of a perfect brahmana and preacher. Lord Chaitanya provided the same level of protection as Krishna and Rama, except His weapon was different. Lord Chaitanya roamed the streets in the dress of a mendicant, having a shaven head and saffron clothing. His weapon of choice was the holy name of God. He inspired all of India to take up chanting the maha-mantra: “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”.
There is no difference between God and His name. By loving repeating His name found in the maha-mantra, one comes into direct contact with the Lord. This contact with God serves as the highest form of protection for any living entity. Lord Chaitanya taught everyone to take up bhakti yoga all year round. Not merely a method for self-realization, bhakti yoga is the natural disposition of every living entity. Bhakti means love; a feeling which does not have to be taught. Loving God is the purest form of love there is.
To help people reawaken their love for God, Lord Chaitanya and His disciples would tour India and chant the maha-mantra wherever they would go. This is very similar to how people spread Christmas cheer, except it was done all the time. Some people view the loud chanting and the drumbeat of the mrdanga to be annoying, but such sounds are completely transcendental in nature when directed towards the Supreme Lord. This collective sound vibration, known as sankirtana, brings tidings of comfort and joy to any person, of any age, and of any religious persuasion.
God is great, so His glories should be discussed and praised all the time, in every month of the year. His name, quality, forms, and pastimes bring joy and bliss to all His devotees. By taking up devotional service and inducing others to chant, we can create the Christmas atmosphere all year round.
Categories: devotional service