“The Supreme Lord, Purushottama, or Shri Krishna, is the maintainer of all, in both the transcendental and material worlds. He is the life and friend of all because there is eternally natural affection and love between the living entities and the Lord. He is the one friend and well-wisher for all, and He is one without a second. The Lord maintains all the living entities everywhere by His six transcendental opulences, for which He is known as bhagavan, or the Supreme Personality of Godhead.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 3.9.22 Purport)
If we are really happy in some place, we owe a ton of credit to the maintainer. Without their effort, we would not have the stated enjoyment. Someone else’s association or a specific activity within such a place may be the immediate cause for the happiness, but without the higher authority maintaining the establishment, the potential for the activity would vanish. In applying such a mindset we see that every person should pay respects to the Supreme Lord, who is the greatest maintainer.
Whether one is a socialist, a communist, a libertarian or a capitalist, they are being maintained by the highest authority figure. In a certain style of government, I desire equality of outcomes. I do not want there to be any wealthy people or perhaps I want them only so that I can take money from them to give to others. My desire is equality, anyway, and I don’t consider God to be an influence. I don’t believe in God. Of course such a belief is silly, for from where did the nonrandom aspects of nature come? A schedule implies intelligence, and since nature operates on the most predictable schedule, there is intelligence in its workings.
In another style of government, I don’t want any interference from governing bodies. Let everyone live. If they want to earn a lot of money, so what? If they want to take drugs, whose business is it really? Let everyone do as they please, and only intervene when someone’s rights are being infringed upon. If there is fraud in a financial dealing, a thief on the loose, or an attack from a foreign enemy, then the government should step in.
In another style of government I want the businesses to get preferential treatment. They are the job creators. Let them drill for natural resources wherever. Let them open up a giant store on an unused land. Give them subsidies so that they’ll start places of business in regions that need help. This will solve the unemployment problem. As man is continuously progressing with respect to standard of living, let the government not stand in the way. Let the government be an equal partner.
God is more or less ignored in these scenarios. Sometimes he is acknowledged and purported to be on board with everything, but actually every living entity is His child. This means that the ants, the dogs, the cats, and the cows, which have no understanding of government, are within His jurisdiction as well. They don’t desire anything from government. They simply want protection and the ability to enjoy their senses. Though they don’t know of God, they are maintained by Him.
The human beings are maintained in the same way, except they have the ability to acknowledge God. They have the advanced intelligence to stop and consider His position. “Wow, I have all this around me and without doing anything for it. There is no monthly fee for the sun’s light. There is no charge for going to the river to get water. Last I checked, there is no oxygen tax, though some nations are on their way to creating such a thing, also employing similar mechanisms like fining citizens for not purchasing a product. We have all of these vital things, and they all come from God. He is thus the best maintainer.”
“O best among the glorious ones, all of this has been achieved by me through the divine grace of You and Your brother. One who does not repay the favors offered to him certainly is considered a disgrace among men.” (Sugriva speaking to Lord Rama, Valmiki Ramayana, Kishkindha Kand, 38.26)
Since even the most miserable person enjoys a little bit, all are indebted to the great maintainer. Only a miser would not return some of the favors sent their way. Sugriva in the Ramayana says that a true friend repays favors given to him when he has the chance. This is not a religious principle; it is common sense. If we do something nice for someone, will we not appreciate a kind gesture in return? A basic acknowledgment will suffice, but when even that is lacking, what does it say about the other person?
With a little intelligence we can discern for ourselves that there is a supreme maintainer, and from the Vedas our wise conclusion is supported through statements of fact. In those scriptures the Supreme Lord is described to be the maintainer of both the spiritual and material worlds. The spiritual world is the home of pure spirit souls who aren’t tainted by desires for separation from God. It would thus make sense that the Supreme Lord, who is the Supreme Spirit, would maintain the place that He calls home.
And yet He is the maintainer of the material world as well, a place where hardly anyone wants to think of Him. In any field of endeavor, as long as you ignore God, you will be praised by so many. Open up an animal shelter, feed the poor, help disadvantaged youths, research cures for diseases – do any such thing and others will praise you for it. Yet if you speak of God and the need for worshiping Him, get ready to meet staunch opposition. Every excuse in the book will be made to reject your ideas, though in reality all you’re asking for is some gratitude from the many who are being maintained by the one.
“In the Katha Upanishad (2.2.13) the Supreme Lord is described as the chief eternal being amongst all other eternal individual beings (nityo nityanam chetanash chetananam) and the one Supreme Lord who maintains innumerable other individual living beings (eko bahunam yo vidadhati kaman).” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 2.4.7 Purport)
He maintains the material world because through life comes the opportunity for salvation. In pain, misery, chaos, despair, and ignorance, there is no chance of reuniting with the best friend of the living entities. Through being maintained, at least the opportunity is there for all, though they likely won’t take advantage until after many lifetimes. Regardless, in each lifetime the support of the great maintainer is there. From this we get one way to understand Him, which is the most valuable understanding to have.
If to feed the poor you will say,
Or to helpless animals to give way,
Or to cure this disease or that,
From others on back to get pat.
But as soon as name of God you take,
Others every excuse and attack to make.
Know that all worlds He maintains,
Appreciation for Him for our gain.