Using Nature To Survive

[trees in forest]“If a person goes against Shri Rama, they won’t be able to get firewood from the Vindhyachal forest or water from the oceans, and Kuvera’s house will be empty.” (Dohavali, 72)

bindhi na īndhana pā’i’ai sāgara jurai na nīra |
parai upāsa kubera ghara jo bipaccha raghubīra ||72||

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Life in the material world is about survival. Defending is one of the four characteristic traits of the animal. It goes along with eating, sleeping and mating. Whether you are high or low, you have to defend. The middle class person installs a basic alarm system in their home and the wealthy person has a security detail to watch over their estate.

[home security system]Defense is an instinct since there is knowledge that death can come at any moment. Time has yet to be defeated; it operates on everything. Whether you make a call to time or not, it will work on your body and everything you call your own. Knowing that time’s most powerful weapon of death can arrive unannounced, it is natural for a person to worry over their wellbeing.

To this end there is the tendency to exploit. If animals find a large supply of food that accidentally falls on the ground, they’ll just eat what they need and move on. They won’t make plans to hoard. They won’t think that since such fortune rarely comes to them, they should take advantage.

“If a bag of rice is placed in a public place, birds will come to eat a few grains and go away. A human being, however, will take away the whole bag. He will eat all his stomach can hold and then try to keep the rest in storage.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Nectar of Instruction, 2 Purport)

[clipping coupons]Fear coupled with intelligence makes the human being do things like clip coupons, look feverishly for a deal, and trade up to the latest model to keep up with what others are purchasing. If a deal is expiring soon, better get on it right away. You don’t want to miss out on the savings. Even if you don’t really need that thing right now, you might need it later on. Then you’ll have to pay a higher price. You don’t want to get cheated.

Taking advantage of the sales promotion is exploitation and hoarding on the smaller scale, and conquering foreign lands on the larger. A ruler sees that another area is rich in natural resources. Rather than trade and risk high expense, why not take over that land? Build up your army and invade. If you can acquire the property outright, you’ll have some protection against loss. Though you know that death will come, you’ll be better prepared to live life until that time.

There is something important missed in this mentality. Goswami Tulsidas addresses it in his Dohavali. He says that one who opposes Rama can find even the ocean to be bereft of water. Though the comparison is meant to be understood symbolically, it can be taken literally as well. If there is no water, you obviously don’t have an ocean. If the forest is missing trees, it is not a forest. These characteristics define the respective objects.

Shri Rama is the Supreme Lord in His incarnation form that appeared in Ayodhya many thousands of years ago. Since His family descended from King Raghu, Rama is also known as Raghava. Since Rama was the brave hero of the Raghu dynasty, He is also known as Raghuvira, which is the name used by Tulsidas in this verse. Knowing that Rama is God is not vital for understanding this verse. You know that there is an original cause of everything, so understand that without that cause’s sanction nothing can exist.

[forest with trees]You want water. So you go to the ocean. You see the water. You’re ready to take some away using buckets. But you find that each time you dip the bucket in the water, nothing comes out. You want wood to keep your home warm at night. You go to the dense forest to cut down some trees. You go to chop one down, but nothing happens. It’s like your axe is swinging through air.

These things are not miracles; they can happen very easily if the Lord so desires. What we see around us is a collection of material elements anyway. Earth, water, fire, air and ether comprise the gross elements. In the individual, the soul controls the body. God is the original soul, the life of everything that lives. Therefore if He wishes to manipulate the material elements in a way that we can’t understand, He can do so effortlessly.

bhūmir āpo ‘nalo vāyuḥ

khaṁ mano buddhir eva ca

ahaṅkāra itīyaṁ me

bhinnā prakṛtir aṣṭadhā

“Earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intelligence and false ego – altogether these eight comprise My separated material energies.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.4)

[Rama's lotus feet]We use nature to survive, to keep spirit and body together. Though we act on what we see around us, we should not forget that everything comes from God. Going against Him is the original sin, the cause of the spinning wheel of reincarnation. Each day the wheel keeps moving, as it continues in each lifetime spent in a particular body. As soon as one goes back to the original consciousness of loving God, the misery ends. What seems like a difficult existence, riddled with worry that is so strong it leads to fear and hoarding, becomes pleasurable and exciting. This is due to the persistent freshness found in the Personality of Godhead, whose favor can make anything happen. Just as He can dry up the ocean and clear out the forest, He can fill the devotee’s life with bliss through replenishing opportunities for service.

In Closing:

Going into dense forest one,

Though chopping, wood not to come.

Going to ocean with bucket of mine,

Though water, empty coming up each time.

Not a miracle, Rama anything can do,

Reverse your outlook in life easily too.

With thought and deed devoted to Him,

On reincarnation’s wheel no more to spin.

Categories: dohavali 41-80, feature

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