“It is by great fortune that one comes to Krishna consciousness on the path of bhakti-yoga to become well situated according to the Vedic direction.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 6.47 Purport)
“By some way or another they managed to chant ‘Hare Krishna.’ Never mind their personal circumstances. Whether we consider them intelligent or not doesn’t matter also. They may not know the law of the conservation of energy or the price of tea in China, but at least they know that they are not God. At least they know that there is a supreme controller. From knowing these things they’ve decided to chant His name and also the name of His energy. This will benefit them greatly. All others are most unfortunate, despite what they may think.”
We all have seen instances of good luck. Someone who gets this luck constantly is considered fortunate. If they failed to study for a test in school, somehow school gets cancelled the next day. Or the teacher gives the test but only puts questions that the particular student knows the answers to. Then another person finds money on the street, wins the lottery, or matches up with the person of their dreams. They are considered fortunate because they seem to always get what they want.
This definition of “fortunate” is based on the short-term view. There is immediate enjoyment, which is known as preyas in Sanskrit. Long-term gain is actually more important. This is known as shreyas, and it makes sense that it would be more important. If I do something that earns me five dollars today, I think I am happy. If I instead forgo that action, with the objective of earning a much larger annual salary in a few years, that is better. In that scenario, earning five dollars will be much easier. In achieving the higher goal, the lower goal seems so trivial that it will go unnoticed when earned.
In the short-term, it’s difficult to think of the long-term. As they say, it’s hard to see the forest for the trees. For life’s most important goals, we are given the eyes of scripture, shastra-chakshu. These eyes have a vision perfected through both personal observation and divine intervention. The divine intervention came first. The divine is responsible for the existence of shastra. The Supreme is one who can see infinitely into both the past and the future. As such, He has perfect knowledge of events.
Knowledge of the outcomes to actions is one thing, but knowledge of the qualities of the individual is another. Of course the Supreme has this knowledge as well, which He incorporates into His scripture. The shastras are lengthened by the teachings of those who are devoted to the Supreme. They realize the original truths passed on to them by practical application. They then note down their observations for the future benefit of mankind. Think of it like having a book written by your parents which tells you of all the pitfalls to avoid in life. The pitfalls are listed from their experience, which in this case is limited. Even so, the information will be helpful, as our parents have lived longer than us.
The past sages know of all desires. How can a sage from thousands of years ago know that I want a new video game? How can they know what a smartphone or tablet PC is? Actually, both of these desires fall into the category of fruitive activity, or karma. More specifically, they are desires in the mode of passion, which leads to a neutral state. All such desires for personal sense gratification are in the mode of passion, which is a concept the past sages are quite familiar with. They also know the modes of goodness and ignorance, and the divine mode of goodness reserved specifically for those devoted to God in a pure way.
This last mode is the most important. The infinite wisdom of shastra aims to teach everyone that this objective is the most worthwhile. Thus one who somehow realizes this objective is considered most fortunate. They are the luckiest person in the world because despite all odds against them they found true gold. Even if they stumble upon this knowledge by accident, without knowing what they are striving for, since the process to achieve the stated objective is so powerful, they are guaranteed to eventually reach the best destination.
One who is considered fortunate in the standard definition may actually have their “fortune” work against them. The wealthy businessman is accustomed to getting what they want through hard work. What need do they have for worshiping God, then? The person with beauty finds it easy to attract members of the opposite sex. Why should they worship someone else, then? The person who is expert at mystic yoga can bend and shape their body in amazing ways. Why need God, then?
Devotional service, or bhakti-yoga, is for meeting shreyas, or the ultimate long-term benefit. Prahlada Maharaja, a famous teacher of bhakti-yoga, says that the personal, short-term interest of the living entity is also met through the same bhakti. He says that the best destination is Vishnu, which is a name for God. One who gets too much preyas can easily forget the time factor and how it erases everything. On the other hand, the poorest man, who has less distractions, can require less convincing to take up devotion, for what else do they have in life?
Bhakti-yoga is best practiced through the chanting of the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.” There is nothing lost in this chanting. There is no reason for anyone to refuse to chant. If they have a specific allegiance that they don’t want to break, they can still chant this mantra and think of their worshipable personality. Sounds are repeated all the time, so what is the harm in repeating an ancient Sanskrit mantra?
Despite its innocuity, the chanting process will likely not be taken up in earnest, even with so much cajoling. Therefore one who does take it up should be considered most fortunate. They hear God through chanting, and since God is the greatest, the ultimate, what can be better than hearing Him? He has everything, so why couldn’t He share that with those who want to be with Him? All other fortunes quickly vanish, but the priceless gift of devotion remains forever.
Person with good luck always to see,
Think they are more fortunate than me.
Shreyas only a temporary gain,
But preyas repeatedly to bring the same.
Even though a person may be poor,
Know they are fortunate for sure,
If holy names always to say,
Towards God’s realm on their way.