“O son of Pritha, there is no work prescribed for Me within all the three planetary systems. Nor am I in want of anything, nor have I need to obtain anything — and yet I am engaged in work.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 3.22)
Children in school sometimes have to bring something in to discuss with the rest of the class. Known as “Show and Tell”, the purpose is to get the child to open up to others, to speak about something which is dear to them. At the same time, it gives them an introduction into the art of communication, in learning how to convey your thoughts to others. Similar to the “Show and Tell” is the classroom talk by a parent. The “father of the week” is the father of a student chosen to speak in front of that class for that particular week. They discuss what they do for a living, which will hopefully spark an interest in the children. The Supreme Lord is the father of all, and since He does everything when He doesn’t have to do anything, His work is the most interesting.
A doctor, an engineer, a computer programmer, a teacher – these fathers have a lot to discuss with students. Every occupation has its necessary work and also the fruits of labor accompanying it. Even the housewife is a tireless worker, a person who must incorporate love into her work in order for there to be success. Success in her case is a properly fed family that lives in a household that operates smoothly. The reward is the peace of mind of knowing that your family is cared for. If they are cared for, their association will be more enjoyable.
Yet each person ultimately works because they have to. Though they may choose their occupation, without working they could not survive. Even those who are on the government dole must rely on someone’s work for their sustenance. Look around the entire world and you’ll never find someone who doesn’t rely on work, no matter how renounced they are. But there does exist one person who never has to work. This is because all the energies of this world operate under His direction. The many aspects of this world, including eternal truths relating to this world and its origin, are like pearls resting on a thread that is this original person.
“O conquerer of wealth [Arjuna], there is no Truth superior to Me. Everything rests upon Me, as pearls are strung on a thread.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.7)
Not surprisingly, the person of whom we speak is God. In the Vedas His most descriptive name is Krishna, which means all-attractive. As a personality, Krishna has a form, attributes and pastimes. One of those pastimes is teaching, which was seen once on the battlefield of Kurukshetra some five thousand years ago. In that discourse to a hesitant warrior named Arjuna, Krishna mentioned, among other things, that there is no work ever prescribed for Him, and yet He still engages in work.
Every person is assigned some type of duty. The father cares for the family, the child goes to school, the mother nurtures the children, the teacher teaches students, the head of state watches over the citizens, etc. In ideal circumstances, the prescribed work is accepted based on inherent qualities, or gunas. In ancient times this is how work was assigned, and the qualities were determined by those in the mode of goodness. There are three modes of material nature, and those in goodness are at the highest level. They can see things clearly, meaning they know the difference between matter and spirit. They can thus assess material qualities in others and then give the prescribed duties, which are originally handed down in the Vedas, the first scriptural tradition of this world.
Krishna is the origin of the Vedas, so He is the person who first instituted the prescribed duties. Those in the mode of goodness read the Vedas, study Vedic wisdom, perform sacrifices, and teach others to perform sacrifice as part of their duties. The martial class, those in the mode of passion, runs the government, protects against foreign attack, and gives in charity. The business section generates wealth, produces food, and protects cows. The laborer class serves the three higher classes, and in each division the participants are suited for the work based on their qualities. Prescribed work is the real meaning to karma, as it aims to provide fruits that are worth having.
Though Krishna doesn’t have to do anything, He still does pretty much everything. If He were to give a presentation before a classroom, there would be no end to His discussion. This is because He can go on and on about everything He has done in the past, does right now, and will do in the future. Through a simple exhalation He generates this and many other universes. Through an inhalation, everything comes back into Him. And just as we breathe in and out many times in a day, so Krishna creates, maintains and annihilates the creations over and over again.
Even the work assigned to deputies like saints and demigods is in one sense done by Krishna, who is responsible for the creation of the elements used to carry out that work. The very act of describing Krishna is also something done indirectly by the Lord, which means that there is infinite recursion in the definition of the Supreme Lord.
Krishna does all this work to set a good example and also to derive pleasure. Just as the father is appreciated by the son for the love that he offers and the work that he does, we too can honor the Supreme Lord for all that He does for us. And that act of honoring will bring us the greatest pleasure, simultaneously providing meaning to all the other work that we do.
Ultimately, we work to maintain something, so if our work is done to maintain the connection to Krishna in a loving mood, then it is worthwhile. The loving mood is best created through the chanting of the holy names in full surrender. Repeating, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”, is work that can be done anywhere, and if there is some faith applied in the chanting process, the rest of the work will be adjusted properly. If the supreme father works for our benefit, then we can surely work for His, glorifying Him with our sacrifice.
Father of student to classroom invite,
So that inspiration in students to ignite.
To describe his work opportunity he takes,
Explains how a living with action he makes.
Supreme Lord is the father in a sense too,
He takes to working though He has nothing to do.
The entire creation He does start,
Of Him His energies are also a part.
To His work there is never an end,
So your heartfelt obeisances to Him send.