“Since the Lord is the original source of all emanations, intelligent persons, enlightened by Vedic knowledge, seek the shelter of the Lord, just as birds who leave the nest again search out the nest to take complete rest.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 3.5.41 Purport)
“So, you want to move back in here? Couldn’t make it on your own, eh? Why did you leave in the first place? You had plenty of food offered to you daily. The house was always clean, you had a nice family around to give you company, and there was a support system built in. You told us that you wanted to enjoy life more, that it was high time you grew up. You told us that you needed your freedom, your space. Now you’re ready to give back that independence? Are you sure this is what you want? Why should we take you back?”
Indeed, the good parent hopes that their child will one day move out of the house and raise their own family. Not that they necessarily become absent from their life, but at least they should be self-sufficient. Otherwise, who will take care of the adult child when the parent is no longer around? How will the child fend for themselves? While this logically makes sense, the Supreme Lord has a different attitude towards His devotees. He welcomes anyone back with open arms at any time, since real independence is only found in devotional surrender. With His closest devotees, He acts like the attached parent who never lets go.
An example of this was seen with Narada Muni one time. He is a sort of space traveler. Think of a person who has no attachments. No job, no family, no house, no car – nothing except his instruments that he carries with him. He uses these to forever glorify the Supreme Lord, who is known as Narayana because He is the source of all men. He is also known as Hari because He removes the distresses of His devotees. He is known as Rama as well particularly because of one time that He came to earth. There were many reasons for this descent, with one of them involving Narada Muni and a painful loss.
Narada is a pure devotee. This means that he worships God without any personal motivation. He doesn’t pray to God to grant him some material benediction. He doesn’t meditate quietly in hopes of only blocking out all negative aspects of life. He doesn’t meditate in hopes of being very expert in mystic yoga. He simply worships wherever he is. He travels from place to place due to a curse laid upon him, but for him that curse is a blessing. It allows him to bring the glories of God to wherever he travels.
Since this is his occupation, it is not beneficial for him to get married. Not that no one should ever get married, but for people in Narada’s situation marriage isn’t required. It would only slow him down and make him unhappy. As we all know, sometimes we don’t know what’s good for us. Narada one time was swelling with pride over having conquered kama, or lust. He then visited Lord Shiva to tell him about it. Unlike Narada, Lord Shiva is married. He has the most chaste wife, Parvati Devi. This doesn’t mean that Shiva is swayed by material desires. It was at the insistence of Narayana that Shiva got married, so his association with Parvati is a kind of devotional service.
Shiva met Narada and saw that his pride had temporarily risen. He advised Narada not to mention to Narayana his accomplishment of having conquered lust. “Whatever you do, don’t tell Shri Hari.” Narada visited Hari next, and didn’t listen. He explained everything that had happened. The Lord could tell what Narada was feeling, that his pride had swelled up. Like a good surgeon, Hari planned on cutting out that disease that could ruin Narada. Hari decided to play a little trick on Narada. He created a majestic city which happened to be holding a svayamvara at the time. This was a self-choice marriage ceremony for a king’s daughter. Narada stopped by and fell in love with the daughter upon first sight. He wanted her to pick him for marriage.
You can’t remove devotion from a devotee, and so Narada naturally prayed to Hari. “Let this woman pick me.” Narada is an independent soul. In this instance, he wanted to leave the home that was devotional service in order to enjoy married life with a beautiful woman. The father should have no reason to interfere with the son’s personal desire to leave home and start a family, but in this instance Lord Hari did interfere. Rather than pick Narada, the woman picked another beautiful man, who was none other than Hari Himself. The whole thing was an illusion created by God. Narada was so angry that he cursed Narayana to come to earth and be separated from His wife. Narada didn’t get picked because Hari gave him a monkey face, and so Narada also cursed Hari to have to rely on monkeys for His friends. No one can actually curse God, but since the Lord loves Narada so much He happily agreed. And so Hari advented on earth as Lord Rama, and His famous pastimes are described in the Ramayana.
Narada wasn’t happy with what had happened, both the illusion and his subsequent submission to anger. So later on it was explained to him by Rama that the Lord’s devotees are viewed as helpless children. One parent is attentive during the child’s infant years, but when the child gets older the love is offered differently. On the other hand, the overbearing parent will always keep the same attention, regardless of the child’s age or maturity level. Towards His devotees, Lord Hari acts like the latter parent. The devotee may not like the kind of love they receive from time to time, but in the end it is what is best for them. This is what is best for everyone, but not everyone is so fortunate. If their foremost desire is to leave the nest that is the spiritual world, there is no force applied by God in getting them to return home.
Ah, but that return is allowed at any time. Narayana, who is also known as Krishna in His original form, never shuts the door permanently. The worst person in the world, after many lifetimes of reforming themselves, can return to Krishna’s land. Imagine, then, what is in store for the person who always chants the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.”
Despite full attention parents give,
In independence child wants to live.
When older, one parent relinquishes,
While other parent’s love never extinguishes.
Shri Hari to His devotees like the latter,
Takes concern with every single matter.
Narada this one time did not like,
But nevertheless eventually set right.