“Since everything is in full opulence in the Personality of Godhead and is existing in full truth, there is no duty for the Supreme Personality of Godhead to perform. One who must receive the results of work has some designated duty, but one who has nothing to achieve within the three planetary systems certainly has no duty.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 3.22 Purport)
“I’m so independent. No one tells me what to do. I can go wherever I want, whenever I want. I can eat at any restaurant, and I can sleep late into the night after watching television for hours. You can’t put a price on this freedom. I have the best gift in the world, and I won’t let anyone take it away from me.”
Picture the ideal scenario where a person has seemingly complete freedom. No one can get in the way of their fun. Once you have that person and situation in mind, know that even then there is strict dependency on outside forces. Though that person thinks they are not beholden to anyone, they are still a servant to so many things. This fact is applicable to every single person but one. As He is the exception, His behavior can’t be judged in the conventional method.
The quickest way to nullify the claim that one is completely independent is to point to the laws of nature. Try as hard as you may, you will feel cold when you touch ice. You will feel warm when in contact with the scorching rays of the sun. These are nature’s laws that cannot be altered. You can try not to let the weather affect you, but that is a different matter. You can try to remain inside of a climate controlled area, but this still means that you are dependent on the temperature of the surrounding environment to avoid discomfort.
Then there is sleep. You want to party all night, but you can’t. You want to get up early in the morning to go for a run, but the invisible magnet that is the bed just won’t let you get up. It is actually the influence of nature on your body acting. Despite your desires, you have to live by the rules of the nature around you. You have to sleep because of fatigue, and nothing can be done to stop the fatigue. You have to drink water to quench your thirst and eat food to curb your hunger.
In this way every single person is a servant. The wealthy business mogul has so many assistants doing their work, but they are still not independent. They must serve someone. They must also obey the laws of society. They are not to tell a lie, lest they risk public ridicule. If they take illegal drugs, they will be punished. If they fail to pay taxes, the IRS will come after them. If their wife doesn’t like them, she can call for a divorce and get half of the estate in a settlement. Thus the person who is the role model for the ambitious fruitive workers is also a servant.
The Supreme Lord, however, is not beholden to anyone. He is the origin of matter and spirit and also the controller of both. Through a simple exhalation He can generate universes containing millions of planets and living creatures. And then through an inhalation the same can merge back into Him. He can go without sleep for an endless amount of time and He can survive without any material objects feeding Him. He is also the origin and object of dharma, or religiosity. He does not need to follow any system to reach a particular goal.
“The great sage Narada heard that Lord Krishna had married 16,000 wives after He had killed the demon Narakasura, sometimes called Bhaumasura. Narada became astonished that Lord Krishna had expanded Himself into 16,000 forms and married these wives simultaneously in different palaces.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 2, Ch 14)
Theoretically this all makes sense, but the Supreme Lord doesn’t leave any room for doubt. He appears on earth from time to time to show just how He is not beholden to the rules of society. He does amazing things and then doesn’t suffer the consequences. He indeed flaunts the laws of society and only betters the condition of others. Such was the case when He married 16,108 wives while on this earth some five thousand years ago.
“Why marry so many women? Doesn’t that show that He is lusty? Doesn’t that prove that He is dependent on women to satisfy Him? If He is, doesn’t it mean that He cannot be God?”
The more appropriate question should be, “Why can’t God marry one million women?” After all, if He is the origin of matter and spirit, the person holding up all of the planets of massive weight in space, shouldn’t He be able to maintain an unlimited number of dependents? The wife is the protected and the husband the protector. The average husband has a difficult time keeping one wife safe and protected, so what to speak of sixteen thousand? Yet God as Shri Krishna can deliver an unlimited number of dependents from the greatest danger.
“In this endeavor there is no loss or diminution, and a little advancement on this path can protect one from the most dangerous type of fear.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.40)
To become a dependent of His is not difficult; one simply has to show a little sincerity in the endeavor known as devotional service, or bhakti-yoga. During Shri Krishna’s time, there were sixteen thousand women in particular who practiced this devotion with their minds. They couldn’t go to a temple, chant on beads, or read from scripture. This is because they were held prisoner by a king named Bhaumasura. As the beautiful youth with a blackish complexion named Krishna, God rid the world of this vile king.
The issue remained of what to do with the captured queens. They couldn’t go home because they had been in the custody of another man. No one would marry them. They wanted Krishna as a husband, so what was the Lord to do? He is not a slave to the mundane laws of society, which frown upon polygamy. He is not beholden to the dictates of others, though sometimes He voluntarily abides by them to set a good example or to please His devotees. In this instance, Krishna immediately accepted the women as His wives. They each got their own palace and thought that Krishna was only spending time with them. Only God can do this; no one else.
As He is the origin of all rules, know for certain that anyone who accepts His protection available through devotional service will not be hamstrung by rules either. There are so many examples throughout history that attest to this. Sugriva regained a kingdom although his more powerful brother had driven him out. Vibhishana was rewarded with a kingdom though he did the sinful act of leaving his brother’s side and joining the opposition. Ajamila received the protection of the Vishnuduttas, the direct servants of the personal Supreme Lord, although he deserved punishment in the afterlife because of his acts in karma. The residents of Vrindavana were saved from a torrential rainstorm though they had no protection available. Krishna used a massive hill as an umbrella, something which is unthinkable.
We see that the surrendered souls who have managed to keep their practice steady through sincerity in devotion are free from the vices of gambling, intoxication, illicit sex and meat eating. Their routine of chanting the maha-mantra, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare,” cannot be broken by any bribe or offer for a better life. While the rules of society continue to apply so much pressure in the opposite direction, persuading us to become a servant of this force and that, the devotee is content with finding any situation that allows their worship to continue. In this way they are protected by the greatest protector, who proves His existence through the steadiness of His servants.
Can have as many wives as He chooses,
No pious credits from this He loses.
Only this way because Krishna is supreme,
In His amazing acts on this earth it’s seen.
Nature’s laws all others must obey,
No one fully independent can say.
With Krishna, greatest fear can be gone,
With steadiness Him devotees rely upon.