Exercising Freedom

Shrimati Radharani“We often pray to Radharani because She is the pleasure potency of Krishna. The very word ‘Krishna’ means all-attractive, but Radharani is so great that She attracts Krishna. If Krishna is always attractive to everyone, and Radharani is attractive to Krishna, how can we imagine the position of Shrimati Radharani?” (Shrila Prabhupada, Elevation to Krishna Consciousness, Ch 5)

What is the purpose to our existence? Why must we continually suffer, day after day, with so many troubles? Even when there is happiness found in the steadiness of creature comforts, there is the constant fear that everything will be taken away. When things are lost, the past worries are validated and the overall enjoyment going forward is suddenly hampered as well. Therefore if we are miserable both when we have things and when we don’t, when will there be a peaceful condition? The philosophy of the Vedas, the ancient scriptures of India, is that the many living entities, the autonomous beings roaming this and many other lands, have an existence to provide pleasure to the fountainhead of all energies, the Supreme Lord, who is known as Krishna because of His all-attractiveness. As attractive as Krishna is, those who make use of their constitutional position to always act in His service become even more attractive, for they are capable of catching the Lord’s eye.

Lord KrishnaThe total number of living entities is impossible to count, or even fathom. Just think of all the different bugs and insects that appear on a summer night to come and disrupt your barbecue or your peaceful conversation in the backyard. Then think of all the ants and worms resting within the ground. Every life form that has autonomous movement, birth, death, growth, decay, etc. has a spirit soul inside. Therefore such entities are referred to as life forms, and though their specific outward functions may vary, they are all linked to the Supreme Lord. Even if we pay them no attention, it doesn’t mean that such beings are not related to God. For instance, the broker feverishly making trades on the floor of the stock exchange is not really concerned with the outside world. The fact that there are millions of children attending school at the same time trying to get an education does not appear on the passionate worker’s radar. Yet, just because we don’t contemplate certain things doesn’t mean that they don’t exist. No matter the level of intelligence or the body type assumed, every form of life is attached to the Supreme Lord.

Vedic information reveals that the spirit soul is the essence of identity. While the outer coverings may have different appearances, the properties of spirit do not change. We are all one, as we are all the same, fighting for one cause. When we walk into a room and see people dressed differently, the outfits mask the fact that every person is inherently the same. One person may be overweight, while another is skinny, but deep down they have a heart that keeps beating to maintain their life force. The Vedic angle of vision extends this perspective to all spheres of life. The eyes of the scriptures can see both the microscopic and the gigantic. The texts have the written sense perceptions and thoughts of great sages of the past, who documented both the activities and teachings of the Supreme Person when He was kind enough to present them to a notable personality. Thus simply by taking shelter of these great works, studying them under someone who knows the meanings behind the different verses, one can acquire a flawless vision.

In the absence of this instruction, we will require a lifetime’s worth of experiences just to learn that everyone is the same. It is seen that in closed communities where there is not much diversity, ignorance of other cultures and races is rampant. The practice of racism is sternly rebuked, but it is merely a viewpoint based on ignorance. A person who sees with the weakest eyes, a vision so impure that it can barely detect anything noticeable, thinks that one particular race is superior to another. Through enough exposure, sobriety of thought, and accumulation of sense perceptions, however, a better angle of vision can be acquired.

“The humble sage, by virtue of true knowledge, sees with equal vision a learned and gentle brahmana, a cow, an elephant, a dog and a dog-eater [outcaste] .” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita 5.18)

Lord Krishna with cowIn this area the Vedas have already done the work for us. Simply by accepting its wisdom through what is known as the descending process of knowledge acquisition, we can begin to see things clearly immediately. The first instruction taught to students of the Vedic tradition is aham brahmasmi, which means “I am Brahman.” Brahman as a concept is very important because it immediately explains the equality shared between every type of life. The dog, cat, dog-eater, cow, learned sage, business tycoon, and even the ant are the same in quality. That quality is that they are Brahman, or pure spirit. Without attaining realization of Brahman, the most extended outlook reached by the mind will remain limited.

What do we mean by this? Take the common practice of nationalism. One who is born in a particular land becomes proud of their nation and the people that live in it. But we know that we had no control over the circumstances of our birth. We had so little control that we can’t even remember emerging from the womb of our mother. We only know that we were born in a particular place because of what people tell us. From this we see that there is every chance of being born in some other land. If we maintain our identity from our country of origin, the identity is one that could easily change.

Another way to understand the same concept is to pretend that we’re preparing our favorite dish. In this example, let’s say we’re making homemade pizza. For the pizza to come out right, we need a nice oven, one that can evenly distribute the heat necessary for the dough to cook and the cheese to melt. Is there a difference between the pizza cooked in the oven in the upstairs kitchen and the one baked in the downstairs kitchen? What if both ovens are identical? Would we ever refer to one pizza as being a downstairs pizza and the other as an upstairs pizza?

Obviously the quality of the oven and the resulting outcome are what matter, not necessarily the geographic location of where the baking took place. Similarly, it is the makeup of the spirit soul that counts; and the Vedas tell us that every instance of life is considered Brahman, or pure spirit. The question remains, “What does this gain us? What if I do know Brahman? What then am I supposed to do with that information?” Aside from being able to view everything properly, the realization of Brahman is meant to serve as a launching pad to another stage of realization, one that is in line with the constitutional position of the spirit soul.

“One who is thus transcendentally situated at once realizes the Supreme Brahman. He never laments nor desires to have anything; he is equally disposed to every living entity. In that state he attains pure devotional service unto Me.” (Lord Krishna, Bg. 18.54)

Lord KrishnaLord Krishna states in the Bhagavad-gita that one who reaches the brahma-bhutah platform, the stage of understanding the individual’s true position as pure spirit, no longer hankers and laments. In that peaceful condition they take up bhakti, or devotion to God. If I know that I am pure spirit and not the temporary manifestation of matter surrounding my soul, I will be in a better position to judge everyone else and handle what life has to offer. The peace, tranquility, and evenness of emotion under pressure that I was so desperately seeking come through learning about Brahman and the equality of every individual spiritual fragment.

Activity does not stop here, however. The real business of the spirit soul is to please God. At this point the cogent question may be raised, “If we are supposed to serve God, why are we put into different bodies that are forced to suffer the effects of material nature? Why do we even have to undergo self-realization? Can’t God just remove our obstacles and let us serve Him?” Since the constitutional position of the soul is to be a loving servant of God, for that position to really make a difference, to take on its potency, there must be freedom in the exercise of service. The exaggerated viewpoint is to take God as being the supreme scientist and the living entities as sort of cloned creatures, “mini-frankensteins” if you will, resulting from an experiment that went awry. The intent of the scientist was to make autonomous entities that would act in the interests of the creator, but the experiment went horribly wrong.

This analogy can’t apply to Krishna, though. The living entities are His fragmental sparks, and they do have independence in their actions, but we are never capable of becoming stronger than Krishna, nor can we ever meet with total destruction. Based on the exercise of freedom, we are placed under the care of a specific energy. In the material land, the governing agent is maya, or illusion. In this respect our deference to maya is completely by choice, similar to how when a person plays a video game they agree to subject themselves to the rules and the obstacles that must be faced. The enjoyment in maya’s realm is short-lived, for gains acquired in a body that is destined for destruction cannot last forever.

Lord KrishnaOn the other hand, when freedom is exercised in favor of serving Krishna, the ruling agent becomes the spiritual energy, which is under the direct purview of the Lord. This is why devotional service, or bhakti-yoga, is considered the eternal engagement of the soul. Why would we want to live under the dictates of an energy that is not even autonomous in its own right? Material nature works under Krishna’s direction, but in an impersonal way. On the other hand, the spiritual energy is directly guided by Krishna; therefore it is always superior.

The constitutional position, by definition, brings great pleasure to the spirit soul. If Krishna were to force us to remain in the spiritual world with Him against our will, what pleasure would there be for Him? How would He gain satisfaction from exercising His domineering power over everyone? If you are God, you don’t need anything to validate Your supremacy or position of power. Rather, time is spent only in enjoying, having fun if you will. If you see pictures of Krishna, He is always happy. He is the very essence of ananda, or bliss. If He needs to punish someone, He’ll expand into a non-different form or He’ll order one of His energies acting under His direction to take care of the task, but Krishna Himself is always in full pleasure.

What is the source of Krishna’s pleasure? The Vedas describe the Lord as being atmarama, so He is in need of nothing. Though He is self-satisfied, the association of one particular person gives Him so much pleasure that He can’t even imagine how wonderful that person is. Shrimati Radharani, the eternal consort of Lord Krishna, is the topmost servant, the expansion of spiritual energy that never deviates from their constitutional position. She is so exalted that she enthralls Krishna at every second, showing what it means to take to bhakti and remain deferent to the reason for our existence.

Shrimati RadharaniThe rebellious spirit in us may raise some objections at this point. “I never asked to be created for Krishna’s pleasure. Why do I have to engage in something I don’t want to do?” The fact is that the serving principle is active within every single form of life. When service to Krishna is neglected, other entities and objects will be given favor. Since none of these target beneficiaries are all-attractive, the serving propensity will not bring the results that it should. Simply through following the example of Shrimati Radharani, honoring her, worshiping her, and asking her to bestow bhakti upon us, our real position can slowly and surely be reawakened.

To honor both Radha and Krishna, the sincere spiritualist seeking accompanying transcendental enlightenment regularly chants, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”, and thinks of their beloved divine pair standing together, always in each other’s company. Radharani is so nice that she doesn’t keep Krishna for herself. Rather, she is always looking for people to recommend to Krishna, for Him to spread His personal mercy upon even more sincere souls. Radha is not stingy in this regard. She would take the entire world back to the spiritual land in a second, provided that this was the desire of everyone. The purpose to our existence is to try to love Krishna just as much as Radha does. Though that is not possible, by remembering her sweet behavior and her undying devotion to Krishna, our reinstatement in the eternal pastimes of the Lord can take place very soon, giving us the boon of our existence and the ability to understand transcendental subject matters.

Radha and KrishnaIn Closing:

From Radharani’s devotion one thing is clear,

That to Shri Krishna, no one is more dear.

Expansion of the Lord’s energy is she,

Keeping Him happy, acts as His pleasure potency.

Spirit souls wandering the universe,

Are found in many species that are diverse.

Yet essence of identity is the soul,

At its core, lover of God is its role.

Follow the example of Krishna’s treasure,

Up to her standard of devotion yourself measure.

You will always fail in this regard, for she is the best,

From Her ability to love, Radha stands above the rest.

Though she is the Lord’s beloved and always by His side,

The glories of humble devotees in Krishna does she confide.

Therefore Their names do we go on chanting,

Fruit of existence for us is awaiting.

Categories: radha

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: