“O son of Kunti [Arjuna], I am the taste of water, the light of the sun and the moon, the syllable om in the Vedic mantras; I am the sound in ether and ability in man.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.8)
The ways to remember Krishna are many. The different ways are found in activities that can be grouped into four categories: religiosity, economic development, sense gratification and ultimate liberation from action in karma. These are often referred to as the four rewards of life, or the purusharthas. As there are seemingly endless ways to pursue these rewards, remembering the origin of life and matter, the person whose association is a reward far greater than anything we could conceive, is not as difficult as it may seem.
Dharma is religiosity. Think of it like doing things the right way. More than just a way to come up with a list of sins and pious acts, dharma is the system of laws aimed at bringing a better condition. In dieting there are so many laws. “Don’t eat after a certain time of the day. Avoid this food and that. Lower your carbohydrate intake. Increase the amount of protein that you eat. Stay away from saturated fats.” The fatty foods are even playfully described as “sinful”, which means that they lead to something bad.
In the same manner, if we’re not following religiosity the stuff we’re doing is bad. If we go to church once a week, we’re supposed to be good. If we’re praying five times a day, then we’re saved. If we avoid meat for a certain time period of the year, we’re okay. If we don’t have sex before marriage, we’re in the clear. These are the commonly held beliefs, anyway. The mind can easily become consumed with following such regulations, all the while forgetting their ultimate purpose.
Artha is economic development. In governments around the world today this is the primary focus, or at least this is what the politicians say they are concerned about. In industrialized nations food production is not a problem. In fact, so much food is produced that the farmers are given subsidies to hold back their production; this way they’ll stay profitable. A lower supply means less competition, which means more profits, which means the farmers will stay in the business of farming longer.
Artha can consume the mind of someone who has no interest in dharma. “Let me get a good job. Let me do what I really want to. Let me start a business selling a product that I really like. Then I will be happy. This way I’ll have enough food to eat, a beautiful home, fancy cars, and a way to support my family.” It is easy to go on thinking like this until the end of life, not worrying about anything else.
Kama is sense gratification. In a life devoid of genuine God consciousness, this is the real purpose to following dharma and artha. “Let me follow religion so that I can ultimately enjoy my senses. Let me produce economically so that I can enjoy the fruits of my labor.” Kama is very tricky, as one of its meanings is also lust. Lust is never satisfied. Think of it like really wanting a slice of pizza. You have one today, and tomorrow you will want another. The next time the satisfaction will be even less. Then you’ll look for something better, as your senses need to be satisfied. Each time the itch is scratched, it gets worse in intensity the next time, requiring even more scratching.
Moksha is liberation. When kama has left such a disgusting taste that one completely swears off of everything, they want a way out. “No more of this hell. I don’t want to keep wanting stuff. I’m sick of working. I’m sick of following rigid religious principles. I’m sick of hankering after food and sex. These things only lead to misery. Just get me out of here. I no longer want to be. I just want to remain in a state of freedom, where I don’t have to do anything.”
In this way a single lifetime can be spent entirely in pursuit of rewards that don’t bring lasting satisfaction. Mind you, this is only in the human species. In the other species there is only kama. The intelligence isn’t there to pursue dharma, artha or moksha. These four rewards can consume the mind of the individual for many lifetimes over, making it very easy to forget that there is a Supreme Controller, a person who instituted all of these practices and guidelines with the hope of one day reclaiming His lost souls.
Not that He couldn’t find them, but they did choose to remain away from Him. Remembering Him is therefore the best activity, as it brings His association. In that association, there may or may not be dharma, artha, kama and moksha, but these factors are of little concern. The remembrance itself brings the highest pleasure. That remembrance is known as God consciousness, and it is the real form of liberation. It is the liberation of the consciousness, which means that the individual can peacefully survive under any circumstance.
Remembering God really isn’t that difficult. The lotus flower is the smile of Krishna. Just look at it and remember that the Supreme Lord is all-attractive in His original feature. His position is not determined by sectarian sentimentalism. It is not determined by one’s blind faith, either. It is scientifically based, as in He has properties that can be understood through basic tools of perception. Granted, the magnitude of those properties is immeasurable, but through beautiful objects like the lotus flower we get a slight understanding of the transcendental features found exclusively in the origin of matter and spirit.
Krishna’s smile is as beautiful as the lotus flower. It calms the raging mind consumed with worry over the next quarter’s earnings report. It soothes the burning for sense gratification. It eases the worry over following this religious guideline and that. It allows the mind to forget about liberation from birth and death. If you’re seeing Krishna’s smile, why would you care about leaving your present situation?
You can remember Krishna by looking at the dark raincloud. It is of the precise complexion of Krishna’s body. And that body is the most beautiful. The complexion of the Supreme Lord’s original form was not concocted by Vedic scholars and writers. They merely jotted down what they saw. We have never seen anyone with the shyama complexion, so the description seems like mythology. But we can look at the dark raincloud or the tamala tree and understand immediately how beautiful Krishna’s complexion is. We can also understand that His body is real.
By looking at the tree we can remember Krishna. In Vrindavana it gives shade to both He and His close friends. The tree also produces the flute that Krishna enjoys playing. Thus through a simple object from nature, an object that we may see so many of in the course of our commute to work each morning, we can remember God.
As Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita, He is the taste of water. Who doesn’t drink water? Even if you drink something else, originally that liquid is based in water. Therefore everyone can remember Krishna every day simply in their consumption of liquids. Though it’s very easy to forget Him, the ways to remember Him are many as well. The ways to remember are kindly taught by the merciful spiritual masters, who represent Krishna’s interests in this world. Through their instruction, either written or spoken, one can learn the art themselves and apply it to achieve the highest end.
From dark raincloud that is blue,
Remember Krishna’s bodily hue.
From opened lotus flower’s sight,
Remember Krishna’s smile so bright.
In of drinking water course,
Remember Krishna is taste’s source.
Endless actions there in pursuit of rewards four,
So use them to remember Krishna more and more.