“The demoniac believe that to gratify the senses unto the end of life is the prime necessity of human civilization. Thus there is no end to their anxiety.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 16.11)
Everyone is looking for safety in life. The world-wide peace movements are an outgrowth of this desire. We all have possessions and family ties that we want to secure. It is the natural propensity of man to want to defend his property and protect his loved ones. This propensity is a byproduct of karma, or fruitive activity. Yet the Vedas tell us that this world is a temporary place, full of miseries, dukhalayam. The only way to protect ourselves from all dangers is to look to Lord Krishna, or God.
There are ways to protect almost anything related to the material world. The insurance industry survives on this very concept. These days you can buy an insurance policy for just about anything; health, life, automobile, home, etc. Lately the problem of identity theft has cropped up. Thieves have taken to stealing the social security numbers of others, and then imitating their identity. They use these false identities to open up credit cards and make other fraudulent purchases. When it comes time to pay, the burden falls on the person whose identity was stolen. In the entrepreneurial spirit, companies, such as Lifelock, have surfaced that now offer protection against identity theft.
Aside from protecting possessions and identities, people are always looking to protect their way of life. The Vedas tell us that there are four primary components to sinful life: meat eating, gambling, intoxication, and illicit sex. Sex is considered the highest form of material sense gratification, thus the Vedas advise one to strictly regulate this practice. Marriage was actually instituted by God so as to allow people to regulate their sexual urges. In the traditional system, parents would marry off their children as soon as they had any inkling for sex life. In this way men and women could live peacefully, without worrying about chasing after sex. Of course today’s situation is quite different. Since men and women are free to intermingle, illicit sex is quite common. Aside from being sinful, this sort of lifestyle has noticeable harmful short-term consequences. Sex life is meant for procreation, so those who engage in it illicitly run the risk of unwanted pregnancies. To combat this problem, modern health experts have advised the use of contraceptives such as condoms. Yet condoms don’t work all the time and people are still left with unwanted pregnancies or sexually transmitted diseases. This reality doesn’t scare people enough to give up illicit sex. As a last resort, people now take to the practice of killing an unwanted child in the womb, or abortion. In this way the initial sin of illicit sex worsens into an even worse one of child killing.
The problems relating to illicit sex serve as an example for how material life works. Activity done on the level of karma has intended and unintended consequences, both good and bad. Yet the fruits of this activity are temporary. The mind is always hankering after things it wants and lamenting over things it doesn’t have. All our possessions, along with all our relationships, are temporary. Even the thrill resulting from sex doesn’t last very long, and yet still people go to so much trouble just to engage in it. The Vedas tell us that this life is meant for God realization. This can only be achieved by curbing the demands of the mind and living a life of moderation.
“There is no possibility of one’s becoming a yogi, O Arjuna, if one eats too much, or eats too little, sleeps too much or does not sleep enough.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 6.16)
By engaging in tapasya, or austerities performed for a religious benefit, we can marshal our forces for a higher purpose. Working hard at eating, sleeping, and mating is the business of the animal kingdom. We see that as soon as an advanced lifestyle is achieved, the propensity to defend kicks in. By the rules of nature no amount of defending can give perfect protection for our material possessions or activities. This is because this very world itself is subject to destruction.
“When Brahma’s day is manifest, this multitude of living entities comes into being, and at the arrival of Brahma’s night they are all annihilated.” (Lord Krishna, Bg. 8.18)
The world is destined to end, just as it was destined to be created many millions of years ago. One can hang on as much as they want, but the forces of nature will eventually take everything away. This fact is on full display in the health care industry. There is a growing movement in America to get national health care implemented, a system whereby all medical procedures are subsidized by the government. Proponents of this system state that everyone has an inherent right to free medical care offered by doctors and hospitals. The idea is that if people don’t have health care, they will die. This may or may not be true, but we know for a fact that people who do have health care most certainly will die. In fact even wealthy people with the most luxurious health insurance plans still die, sometimes at very young ages. This is because karma determines our birth and death, and not any health insurance plan or the care of any doctor. If God’s forces of nature decide that it is our time to die, there is nothing in the world that can stop that.
“We have personal experience of a person of such demoniac mentality, who, even at the point of death, was requesting the physician to prolong his life for four years more because his plans were not yet complete. Such foolish people do not know that a physician cannot prolong life even for a moment. When the notice is there, there is no consideration of the man’s desire. The laws of nature do not allow a second beyond what one is destined to enjoy.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bg. 16.11-12 Purport)
There are many countries that already have a national health care system in place, and we see that people are still dying. In fact, since market forces and prices are out of the equation, we see that there is nothing in place to control demand or to increase the quality of care. For these reasons the waiting times for medical treatment are, on average, very high. Many people die simply waiting to get to treatment.
In a single-payer system where prices are controlled, a doctor has no incentive to lure more patients his way. Also since profits are controlled, prospective doctors are lured away from the field of medicine, thereby decreasing the number of practicing doctors, which then leads to long waiting lines.
Health care, driving, sex life, etc., no area of material life is immune from problems. The fact of the matter is that no amount of insurance or money can provide perfect protection.
“Those who are not actually philosophers, scientists, educators, administrators, etc., but who pose themselves as such for material gain, do not accept the plan or path of the Supreme Lord. They have no idea of God; they simply manufacture their own worldly plans and consequently complicate the problems of material existence in their vain attempts to solve them. Because material energy (nature) is so powerful, it can resist the unauthorized plans of the atheists and baffle the knowledge of ‘planning commissions.’” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bg. 7.15 Purport)
Man’s real business is to engage in his eternal occupation; bhagavata-dharma, or devotional service. Lovingly performing work for the Supreme Lord is a timeless discipline that can never suffer destruction or loss. Even those who take up this type of yoga, and still don’t fully achieve Krishna consciousness in this lifetime, get to continue their service in the next life.
“On taking such a birth (in a high family), he (the unsuccessful yogi) again revives the divine consciousness of his previous life, and he tries to make further progress in order to achieve complete success, O son of Kuru.” (Lord Krishna, Bg. 6.43)
Knowing these facts, intelligent people make devotional service the primary duty of their life. This was precisely the path taken by the sags living in the Dandaka forest many thousands of years ago. Lord Rama, an incarnation of Krishna, had appeared on earth to provide protection to His devotees. The Lord comes to earth from time to time to also kill the demons, but this is not necessarily required. The laws of karma usually take care of all good and bad forces. On the highest level of understanding, there is actually no concept of good or bad in a material sense. Any activity which keeps one bound to the repeated cycle of birth and death is considered bad in the spiritual sense. In this regard even mundane pious activity is considered bad because it only leads to ascension to one of the heavenly planets in the material world. The time of residence there is fixed since it is commensurate with the amount of spiritual merits accumulated during one’s lifetime. These merits eventually expire, causing one to fall back down to earth.
During Lord Rama’s time, many sages had taken to living in the forest for performing their sacrifices and austerities. These brahmanas were very smart. They renounced the materialistic way of life in favor of tapasya and yoga. Problems arose, however, in the form of Rakshasa demons. There are are 8,400,000 varieties of species in the world, each possessing different qualities. Rakshasas are atheists by nature, who are expert in black magic. They live off meat eating, intoxication, and illicit sex. The saintly people are their greatest enemies. The sages actually don’t care about the Rakshasas, but the Rakshasas view the sages as the biggest threat to their way of life. The Rakshasas know that if all of mankind takes to devotional service, their sinful way of life will wither away. For this reason the Rakshasas took to harassing the sages by disrupting their sacrifices. Many sages were even killed and eaten, so horrible were these demons.
“After hearing these words spoken to Me by the sages residing in the Dandaka forest, O daughter of Janaka, I promised to provide them My complete protection. Having already vowed to offer this protection, it is impossible for me to act in any other way while I am still alive. Indeed, the truth is always dear to me.” (Lord Rama speaking to Sita Devi, Valmiki Ramayana, Aranya Kand, 10.16-17)
The sages living in the Dandaka forest went to Lord Rama as a last resort. Playing the role of the perfect prince, Rama was roaming the forest as an exile from His kingdom of Ayodhya. This was done at the behest of His father, Maharaja Dashratha. Rama was accompanied by His wife, Sita Devi, and younger brother, Lakshmana. Rama and Lakshmana were known as the greatest warriors of their time, expert in the military arts. The sages asked Rama and Lakshmana to protect them. In the above referenced quote, Lord Rama is explaining to Sita how the sages approached Him and how He promised to protect them.
On the surface, this situation appears to be that of a prince protecting a group of priests, but in reality, it is God offering perfect protection to His sincere devotees. Rama and Lakshmana would indeed come through for the sages by eventually killing thousands of Rakshasas, including their leader Ravana. Ravana was extremely powerful and had amassed great amounts of wealth. His island kingdom was even set up so far away from land that it seemed impenetrable. Yet his wealth, piety, kingdom, and possessions were all destroyed due to his sinful activities committed against the sages and Sita.
The lesson here is that everything in the material world is temporary and subject to destruction, regardless of whatever we may do in the areas of security and protection. Devotional service is just the opposite. Since it is directly connected with God, it is blissful, provides knowledge, and most importantly, it is eternal. Pure love for God can never be checked, even by the demons. This was proven by the protection offered by Lord Rama.
Categories: protecting the saints