“The Lord says that everything is resting on Him. This should not be misunderstood. The Lord is not directly concerned with the maintenance and sustenance of this material manifestation. Sometimes we see a picture of Atlas holding the globe on his shoulders; he seems to be very tired, holding this great earthly planet. Such an image should not be entertained in connection with Krishna’s upholding this created universe.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 9.5 Purport)
Contract time is coming up. You’ve just completed a career year. You are the league leader in goals and assists. Your plus-minus rating is not only tops amongst all players, but it is even better than what others in the past have accomplished. You are still relatively young, especially for the sport in which you play. You had an integral role in a championship run.
You love the city in which you play and live. You’ve never known another team in your career. The issue is that you want to be paid. The team has taken advantage of the entry-level contract you signed after being drafted. They understand that you’ve been a bargain for them. But now is the time to even things out.
In this hypothetical situation of being a professional athlete playing for a franchise in a league, a common difficulty is negotiation. The player wants to get as much money as possible, extended out for as many years as possible. If the money is guaranteed, then that’s even better. Another added bonus would be to get a no-trade clause, wherein the player can veto any trade proposed to another team.
The franchise, on the other hand, is trying their best to get a bargain. For their own interest, they will not want to praise the player too much. As the situation is awkward, one thing that helps is having an agent, someone to represent the player. The agent can practically say or do anything, and it won’t reflect negatively on the player. The agent does all the negotiating. They have a stake in the outcome. They get a cut of the final contract amount.
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada explains that the way religion is commonly practiced is analogous to the above situation. Shrila Prabhupada makes the criticism that man has made God an agent for their sense gratification. The situation is like this. I want something. It could be good health, food, or success in a particular venture. The exact objective doesn’t matter, since whatever is asked for will only remain manifest temporarily. I’m looking to satisfy a personal interest.
Since I know that God is the Almighty, the most powerful person, I naturally approach Him. It is something like shopping at an online retail outlet. Instead of using a credit card or points accumulated from prior spending, the payment is made through worship. I simply show up to a particular location once a week and make a heartfelt plea. “God, give me this. God, give me that.”
The criticism is offered because there is much more to the Almighty than this. To view Him as an order supplier is to only see one aspect to Him. And even that aspect only represents a portion of His splendor. He says in the Bhagavad-gita that from a fraction of His potency He creates and maintains all the universes. Though He performs such work, He is still the non-doer. He is not affected by the work.
yad yad vibhūtimat sattvaṁ
śrīmad ūrjitam eva vā
tat tad evāvagaccha tvaṁ
“Know that all beautiful, glorious, and mighty creations spring from but a spark of My splendor.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 10.41)
Do the birds eat? Do the tigers find shelter? Is the animal community in general lacking the necessities of life? Obviously, life in the animal community continues. The next question to ask is do they approach the Almighty? Do they shop at the retail outlet known as the house of worship? Again, the answer is obvious. The animal community has no sense of religion and yet the necessities of life come to them without a problem.
The more intelligent human being is fit for a more intelligent way of life. The sharper mind questions the real reason for the existence of the Supreme Lord. There must be a relationship to Him. There must be something that comes from that relationship.
Vedic philosophy is there to reveal everything. The relationship is known as achintya-bhedabheda-tattva. There is simultaneous oneness and difference between God and the living entity. The intelligence of the species is one indication of oneness. Both God and the living entities are intelligent. The persistence of life is another indication. Both individual spirit and Supreme Spirit are imperishable.
The approach of the human being towards God to fulfill orders is one indication of the difference. God is great and the many living entities are not as great. The relationship between the two is achintya, or inconceivable. It is impossible to fathom how something can be both different and the same.
The agent of the Supreme Lord is there to help explain. He canvasses on behalf of God the person to rescue the souls who have fallen into delusion, thinking they can compete with the Almighty in the various categories of opulence. The agent represents God’s interests. He doesn’t ask for anything but devotion, which looks like a sacrifice but really isn’t. Is it not worth it to spare some time for bhakti-yoga in order to feel the highest bliss, pleasure that is transcendental?
The agent shows the way for God to be known in truth, as He is. The Supreme Lord is much more than an order supplier. He is surely the sustainer of the universes, but He is also the most well-wishing friend of the living entity. He wants only the best for everyone. The person who tries to understand Him and connect with Him comes to realize this. Then they soon can’t live without His association. They maintain the link through chanting the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Though atlas tiring when world holding,
From only a spark of Krishna universe unfolding.
When personal desire in me springing,
Prayers to house of worship bringing.
But much more than order supplier is He,
The Supreme Soul, having relationship to me.
Meant to have connection with Him steady,
By words of agent for bhakti-yoga ready.