Never Having To Grow Up

[Krishna playing with friends]“Krishna’s words are absolute, as well as His form, qualities and activities. They are always fresh and new. If they were not, how could the devotees glorify them day after day with greater enthusiasm?” (Shrila Prabhupada, Teachings of Lord Kapila, Vs 34 Purport)

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Toys R Us, a major retail outlet in the United States, in the past had a series of commercials that had a theme relating to growing up. The child in the commercial identifies as a “Toys R Us Kid,” and they sing about how they never want to grow up. The problem with growing up, they state, is that they cease being a Toys R Us Kid. When they reach adulthood, they will no longer enjoy visiting the famous toy store and feeling the excitement that walking through the aisles brings. Indeed, so many joys vanish upon maturity into adulthood, but fortunately with one discipline the excitement of youth remains forever fresh. That is due both to the activities attached to that discipline and the beneficiary Himself, who forever remains the grown-up.

[Toys R Us]Imagine this scene. You’re a young child living at home with your parents and elder brother. One Christmas you decide to try your luck at getting a gift. Based on the cultural tradition you inherited from your parents, your family doesn’t typically exchange gifts on Christmas or other holidays. In fact, if there is any particular mode of celebration, it is in giving away gifts to others. The birth of a new child, the union of a man and a woman, and even the mournful loss of a loved one are all marked by the profuse donation of gifts to those who are priests by occupation.

As all the other kids in the class are getting gifts for Christmas, this year you figure you’ll give it a shot. You enlist the help of your brother. The two of you want the same thing: a Nintendo Entertainment System. Video game consoles are a relatively new thing, and thus far you’ve had limited exposure to them. You got a Colecovision a few years back, but this Nintendo looks way better. Your brother wants to play the Mario Brothers game that comes with the console, and you’ve got your eye on the Baseball game that you would have to purchase separately.

[Nintendo Baseball]The two of you beg and plead, almost annoying your father, until he finally relents. Your mother isn’t happy about it, but your dad has always been more liberal. He doesn’t know what this Nintendo is, so he brings you along to the store to pick it out. You walk in and marvel. “This store is the best,” you think to yourself. “I can honestly say that this is my favorite place in the world. There are so many toys here. Not just toys, video games too. They have bicycles and board games also. We hardly ever come here, so I better make the most of this trip.”

Your brother wanders off to check out what’s in the different aisles. After perusing yourself for a little bit, you finally reach the section that has the game consoles. For a big purchase like this, you need to take a ticket and bring it to the counter; they don’t keep the items on the shelf. Your dad has been so kind that he’s allowed you to get the extra game, Nintendo Baseball. You can’t believe your good luck. This is the best Christmas ever, you think to yourself.

Upon bringing the console home, you and your brother eagerly unwrap the packaging and start playing the games. Sometimes gifts don’t match the expectations going in. This isn’t one of those times. You get so much enjoyment out of these games. You play them nonstop, waking up early during your break from school. Over the next several years you make good use out of the system, periodically visiting the same store and picking out new games to play.

[Super Mario Bros]Of course in adulthood things are not the same. The games aren’t as much fun to play. You did grow up, so you no longer are a loyal patron to that store that caters to children. There is a way to get back the exuberance of youth, though. That way is devotional service, or bhakti-yoga. At the outset it looks like a difficult system based upon restriction. No meat eating. No gambling. The adult’s version of fun, drinking, is also prohibited. Forget about gambling when you are bored.

So how is bhakti-yoga supposed to be fun? For starters, the person practicing it is always in the position of dependence. It is not exactly the same as childhood, as eventually the child becomes a father. They reach adulthood and become the person to provide protection. In bhakti-yoga, the Supreme Lord is always the protecting father, even if He appears in the form of a child. He is always the person to petition for help. For one who realizes that God takes care of what is actually good for them, they get supreme comfort. They feel safe knowing that in whatever condition they find themselves, even if it’s in a different body in a future life, they will maintain the connection in consciousness to the Divine.

[Lord Krishna as child]Then there is the endless play of the Lord Himself. Everywhere He plays. Though we can’t see what’s going on in other universes at the moment, it should be understood that the Supreme Lord in His original form of Krishna is somewhere at this very moment getting chased by mother Yashoda for having broken a pot of butter. Somewhere He is appearing from the womb of mother Devaki in the prison cell in Mathura. Somewhere He is lifting the mighty Govardhana Hill and saving the residents from a devastating flood instigated by the vengeful Indra. Somewhere He is delivering the essence of Vedic knowledge, the Bhagavad-gita, to the distressed warrior Arjuna.

So the adult mind can keep these activities with them, basking in their sweetness. More importantly, they can glorify the activities and the actor Himself whenever they want. In childhood the same person awoke early on a Saturday morning to watch cartoons on television, and in adulthood they can wake up just as early to chant the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

In Closing:

Why childhood form have to rid,

And not stay always a kid?


Not the same when all grown up,

To deal with real world strange and tough.


In one path always like a child to stay,

In glorification is spent every day.


Like a field with endless play,

Found only in bhakti’s way.

Categories: devotional service

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