“All glories to Kunja-vihari, whose forehead is decorated with a splendorous tilaka made of mineral pigments, whose garland made of champaka flowers moves during His play, and who meets with the girls of beautifully decorated eyebrows in the mountain caves.” (Shrila Rupa Gosvami, Shri Kunja-vihary-astakam, 7)
subhruvām jayati kuñja-vihārī
“Precious minerals fill this earth, so what are we to do with them? Should we harvest them as much as we can? If we don’t, then someone else will. They will grab as much as they can, keep whatever they need for their own use, and then sell the rest. Since they’ll have it all, they will have an upper hand with respect to financial security. If they’re going to take these resources, why shouldn’t I? “
From the above referenced verse from the Shri Kunja-vihary-astakam, we get an idea of how to use the minerals of this earth properly. Everything in this world exists for a purpose, though we might not see that immediately due to our fears borne of illusion. The wise are always on the course that dissipates the illusion, clearing the way for transcendental bliss, which incorporates all aspects of the creation for the pleasure of the source of the creation.
The example of hoarding minerals gives an indication of the effect the illusion has. Under the false notion that acquiring more will advance my plight, I feverishly pursue collection. It doesn’t have to be just minerals. I might want more digital music than anyone else. I may want to amass greater material wealth. Perhaps I want the fanciest cars in the world, which will mostly sit in my garage, rarely to be driven.
The illusion is that I will be happy pursuing this line. If gathering were the gateway to happiness, the effort would stop early on. Think about it. If just adding one more car to my collection will make me happy, why would I ever need to get another car? Oh, but as soon as I get one car, I need another. In addition, I must protect that which I acquire. To protect means to give attention, and to give attention means to tax the brain. Therefore there is mental struggle before, during and after the collection process.
In the Vedas hankering after something and then rejecting it as no longer useful is known as bhoga and tyaga. It’s like being on a swinging pendulum. We’re not really learning anything we don’t know here, but the purpose of pointing this out is to show that no matter what you do, you will want to enjoy and then renounce. So if the gathering propensity exists already, why not purify it? Why not use the elements of nature in the ideal way and find happiness that does not strain the mind?
The origin of creation is one way to describe God. Another is to say that He is all-attractive. Therefore in the Vedas the Supreme Lord is known as Krishna. He is not an abstract concept, the negation to all that we see around us. He is complete with transcendental attributes, which are displayed during His trips to this mortal world. Not that He becomes a mortal, but He walks among us to show what awaits us should we follow the proper course of action.
“Fools deride Me when I descend in the human form. They do not know My transcendental nature and My supreme dominion over all that be.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.11)
Krishna’s most recent appearance on earth took place five thousand years ago. No need to worry about having missed Him, as the saints have documented His life and pastimes. Even saints who weren’t around during that time have added to the descriptions. This is sort of like writing a book about Abraham Lincoln today. No one alive today was alive during Lincoln’s time, but through referencing works that describe him they can learn all they need to about the famous president. They can then add to the descriptions, introducing to the discussion their own realizations based on life experiences.
The Vaishnava saint Shrila Rupa Gosvami, who graced this earth during the medieval period in India, says that Krishna likes to enjoy in the forest of Vrindavana. On Krishna’s forehead is a splendorous tilaka made of mineral pigments. The tilaka is a sacred mark, and on the body it is the sign of devotion to a particular divine figure. The mark on Krishna’s forehead indicates devotion to Lord Vishnu. Vishnu is the same Krishna, except He has four arms instead of two. Devotees of Vishnu are unique in that they worship a personal God. Worshipers of Krishna, Rama, Narasimha, Vishnu, and other non-different personal forms of the original God are all considered Vaishnavas.
The tilaka applied to the body is a paste that can be made up of different minerals or powders. In this verse, it is said that Krishna’s tilaka is made of mineral pigments, which means that it is not a cheap paste made of ordinary mud. In Krishna’s childhood home, the best ingredients are used for cooking and decorating. The best doesn’t have to mean the most expensive. Nature automatically provides minerals to us, and the milk from the cow can be used to prepare the most delicious dishes. Vrindavana, the land of devotion that Krishna enjoys the most, is a rural community, but it is not poor. The residents have enough food from what they grow on their own, enough milk from their protected cows, and enough enjoyment through Krishna’s association.
Krishna wears a garland of champaka flowers around His neck, and this garland jumps up and down as He moves about. He plays with the cowherd women and meets with them in secluded areas like the caves in the mountains. All of Krishna’s activities point to the ideal use of objects. The flowers in Vrindavana are collected to make garlands for the delight of mother Yashoda, and the minerals are used for His tilaka marks. The milk is used to feed Krishna and the homes to store the butter that He comes to playfully steal. In this way know that you can gather the elements of material nature to use for God’s pleasure, offering them to Him in sacrifice. Such a practice will purify the hoarding mentality and lead to liberation at the end of life.
Tilaka mark so splendorous,
Adds to vision so marvelous.
Of mineral pigments it is made,
On Krishna’s forehead it stayed.
Garland of flowers bounced up and down,
As He played on Vrindavana’s hallowed ground.
Milk for food, and butter for Lord to steal,
In Vraja all objects put to use ideal.