“Nityo nityanam: He is the chief of all living entities; He is one, but He maintains many, many living entities. God maintains all other living entities, but no one can maintain God. That is His svacchanda-shakti; He is not dependent on others. Someone may call himself independent, but he is still dependent on someone higher. The Personality of Godhead, however, is absolute; there is no one higher than or equal to Him.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 3.24.33 Purport)
As it was a Saturday morning, Amit was all set to sleep in. The children usually awoke early to watch cartoons on television, and his wife knew not to bother him. But this morning was a little different. Amit was first awoken by the ring of the doorbell. Then a few minutes later his wife came into the room.
“Amit, you have to wake up.”
“It’s Saturday, you know that,“ he complained.
“Your father is here. You guys are painting the house today, remember?” she said.
“Oh great. I totally forgot about that.”
After getting up and using the bathroom, Amit felt something was off in his throat. He thought he might be coming down with something. His wife told him not to make excuses and that he had to help his father no matter what.
When he went downstairs, Amit’s brother Tarun was there as well. He had come over to help paint their house. It was going to be a family job, with the father in charge. Amit’s mother was there too, cooking breakfast for everyone.
“Dad, I don’t think I feel so well. I was around sick people at the office this week, and I think I maybe got something,” Amit said. His mother immediately rushed over to him. Feeling his forehead, looking into his eyes, with concern she told her husband not to paint the house.
“Dear, our boy is sick. He needs to rest. I’m going to call the doctor.”
“Oh, you always do this,” complained Amit’s father. “He’ll be just fine. He should be tougher.”
“That’s nonsense. How can you think of painting when our son is sick?”
“Oh, you were like this while they were growing up also. You coddled them too much. Now they’re too spoiled to even get their hands dirty. I think you want him to be sick. You need your sick little boy around so that you can take care of him.”
Amit didn’t like this verbal abuse from his father, and his brother’s laughing in the background did not help matters. Amit’s brother taunted him, speaking to him as an adult would a small baby.
“Alright enough. I’m fine, Mom. Let’s go paint the house already. You guys woke me up, so we might as well do this,” said Amit emphatically.
The father was like the drill sergeant, and the two boys were the loyal subjects. They didn’t like how their father treated them, but at the same time they knew that he was knowledgeable on such matters. If it were up to him, Amit would have hired professionals to come and paint the house. As the day went on, Amit started to feel worse and worse. Finally, after much begging, he was able to get a break in order to eat lunch.
Amit’s mother had lunch ready on the table. To their surprise, a family friend was also in the kitchen. He was a doctor, and Amit’s mother had called him to come to the house to do an informal checkup on Amit. The father was not too happy about this. He reiterated his theory that the mother was exaggerating things to have a child to take care of. He also believed Amit was convincing himself that he was sick in order to get out of painting. Tarun backed up his father.
To the father’s surprise, the doctor said that Amit was indeed ill. He was advised to immediately get rest. The father was then silent, while the mother shot him a dirty look. She then took charge of the situation. She told Amit to march on upstairs and get right into bed. She then made him some bread and soup, just to his liking. She took care of his every need, so much so that the brother became a little jealous.
“Mom, I think I’m coming down with something too,” he said while letting out a few coughs.
“Okay, you lay down on the couch. I’ll make you something.”
In this way the boys felt so good being cared for by their mother. They were happy to get out of painting, but more pleased to be maintained by someone who was an expert at caring for them. Their appreciation for their mother increased immensely, for even though they were adults she never stopped offering her motherly affection. Despite all opposition telling her to act otherwise, she was confident in her way of parenting.
“That was how my mother maintained us,” Tarun told a small gathering of people interested in bhakti-yoga many years later. “She was one person, but she could take care of our every need. It was such a comfort to have her there that I even pretended to be sick from time to time. My father accused her of wanting her boys to be sick, but in actuality we were the ones who enjoyed the attention.”
He continued, “Just imagine then how great God is. He is the chief living entity. He maintains all, but no one maintains Him. And taking shelter from Him is even more comforting. One who surrenders to Him in full becomes directly maintained by Him. The truly surrendered souls abandon hopes for material gain. They no longer desire mystic perfection or full transcendental knowledge, for they know that the chief maintainer has everything covered.”
Tarun told them that the surrendering process is through the chanting of the holy names, that through the name itself one can be protected from all dangers impeding the progress towards full ecstasy in devotion. He then led the group in the congregational chanting of those holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
In God power for all wounds to heal,
By His protection supreme comfort to feel.
By Him maintained living entities all,
But none for Him, as supreme stands tall.
Even if to fully surrender you can’t,
With some attention holy names chant.
In this way find progress slow,
And soon His caring hand know.