Preparing Tradition

Vyasadeva“This transcendental literature is especially prepared by Shrila Vyasadeva to give the utmost satisfaction to the people in general by narration of the activities of the Lord, as instructed by Shri Narada Muni to Shrila Vyasadeva.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 2.6.46 Purport)

So much literature is produced on a regular basis. You would think that with so much information available for consumption, no one would ever be sad. How could there be time for lamentation when you have something new to read? In the advanced technological age, you don’t have to travel to the newsstand or bookstore to satisfy your craving for information. You can go online and get endless amounts of reading material. But does this provide satisfaction? If the material were so great, then no one would repeatedly look for new information. Since the search continues, there is a defect in the message itself. One author, however, tapped into the happenings of a person who is timeless. Therefore the descriptions of those actions are also timeless, allowing us to park our inquisitiveness in one place, in the process satisfying our desire for information while also purifying our consciousness.

If a movie is popular, the fans will watch it over and over again. Perhaps when it first comes out they will go to the theaters to see it a few times, and thereafter the viewing turns into a regular occurrence, like perhaps an annual viewing. The same can be said of television shows. Just because you finish one season of a show doesn’t mean that you will never watch it again. Let some time pass and you’ll surely want to relive the moments that made you laugh, cry, smile, etc.

The pastimes of the Supreme Lord are timeless. They can be heard about in any age, in any time period, and by any person, and bring satisfaction. Moreover, if the underlying culture is created, then those pastimes will bring more pleasure each time they are heard. This should make sense if we think about it. The Supreme Lord takes pleasure in love, as does everyone else. As He is not bound to the cycle of birth and death, and thus not beholden to the forces of nature, His love is transcendental. It is affection, but of a different kind.

One who develops that same love through practice of bhakti-yoga, or devotional service, appreciates God’s love even more. The first time you hear that Shri Krishna stole butter from the homes of the neighbors in Vrindavana, you might chuckle at the prank. “That sounds pretty funny. A young child going in and taking stuff without people seeing Him; And then when He gets blamed, He pretends like He didn’t do anything? Great stuff.”

Krishna stealing butterThen, as you practice chanting, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”, you might look at the same incident with a different perspective. “Oh, that is just like Krishna. He is so beautiful that He loves to give others a glimpse of His true self. Moreover, His stealing of butter shows just how kind He is. He is not mean at all. In fact, it is we who are mean to Him, forgetting our eternal relationship to Him. That relationship is a loving one, and since we are the same as God in quality but vastly inferior in quantitative output, we should always serve Him. But we are reluctant to do so.”

If your practice of bhakti-yoga advances even further, you will have yet another perspective of the same incidents. “This is Krishna at His best. He knows that mother Yashoda loves God in the mood of vatsalya, or parental affection. The butter also belongs to Him, as He creates this and innumerable other universes through a simple exhalation as Narayana. Then Narayana, who is non-different from Krishna, inhales to bring everything back into Him. Why shouldn’t Krishna steal butter then? He comes to this earth to delight the purest devotees with His pastimes, because they love to love Him. The pleasure they feel from that love is so great that they don’t really like to do anything else. Material existence is not an option for them, and since they are helpless in that way, Krishna makes sure they are always safely immersed in divine love.”

If devotional service is so wonderful, it would stand to reason that devotees would appreciate the person or people responsible for creating, maintaining, and passing down devotional information, which would include the accounts of Krishna’s pastimes. Krishna is God. He is the same figure worshiped in other spiritual traditions. There is only one God, but according to time and circumstance, the details of His features are not always readily available. Try telling someone who doesn’t even believe in God that there is a person who is full of the attributes of beauty, wealth, strength, fame, knowledge, renunciation and wisdom. They might not follow you. They might also not believe that God can be a person, as to ere is human. A human being is a person, and since a human being is fallible, a person is considered flawed as well. If God is a person, then He must be fallible.

VyasadevaThis logic seems plausible enough, but through following bhakti-yoga under the guidelines of an authority figure, namely someone who practices it themselves, these issues and more are cleared up. The Supreme Lord’s ultimate feature is Bhagavan, which can be translated to mean the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He is a person, more than just an impersonal force. He is a person, but not ordinary; He is the supreme person. He is also the fountainhead of all forms of divinity. The personality Krishna is that origin, as explained in the Bhagavad-gita and Shrimad Bhagavatam.

Those two works are among the many given to us by Vyasadeva, who acted at the direction of his spiritual master, Narada Muni. The Bhagavatam is a lengthy work, and the Bhagavad-gita is just one small section in one of the largest books in history, the Mahabharata. In addition, there are many other works by Vyasadeva which give stories about Krishna and His incarnations, which are non-different from Him.

The tendency towards hearing needn’t be renounced. We like to hear about others, so why not hear about God? We’ll get delightful accounts too, not just a bunch of rules and regulations that we must follow or be eternally damned. In attachment to Vyasadeva’s works, the repeated hearing we indulge in purifies our existence.

In Closing:

Of useful information we like to hear,

Towards news sites our attention we steer.

But still to new information we go,

Flaw in original message this shows.

Better if timeless message we can accept,

Something we never have to reject.

Pastimes of the Supreme Lord are fitting,

As place for our ears to be sitting.

Vyasadeva this information liberally gave,

So that from misery humanity to save.

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