“But those who worship Me with devotion, meditating on My transcendental form – to them I carry what they lack and preserve what they have.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.22)
Friend1: Brahma, Vishnu, Mahesha
Friend2: The four-faced one, the four-armed one, and the foremost of the Vaishnavas.
Friend2: You like that, eh?
Friend1: The creator, the maintainer, and the destroyer.
Friend2: Very good.
Friend1: If they are in those roles, how can you say that any of them is superior? Isn’t creating just as important as maintaining?
Friend2: Absolutely. You can’t maintain something that hasn’t been created.
Friend1: Destruction is important, too. It keeps the cycle of birth and death going. It facilitates the desires of the jiva souls, who want to enjoy separate from God.
Friend2: Vishnu is superior because He never touches the material world, even in His role as maintainer, which is done through an expansion.
Friend1: Right, there are different Vishnus. They take on different roles, but they represent the same Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Friend2: Vishnu is purusha, while everything in relation to Him is prakriti. He is the cause of the creation, while everything else is the effect.
Friend1: Let me ask you this. What’s wrong with praying to Vishnu for maintaining things? Actually, let me put it more generically. What is the harm in asking God to maintain the present situation?
Friend2: Such as for your possessions and the like? You’re asking God to preserve what you have. You know there is a verse in the Bhagavad-gita that addresses this.
Friend1: Okay, don’t get too far ahead. Stay within this realm. We’re not talking about the Bhagavad-gita here. Just basic prayer. What is wrong with asking for stuff for the purpose of being maintained?
Friend2: Who said it was wrong?
Friend1: Come on. I know about bhakti-yoga. There are different stages to it, but on the highest platform there is no hint of material desire. Basically, you don’t want anything except continued devotion to God the person.
Friend2: There you go. I think you answered your own question.
Friend1: What about someone who doesn’t know bhakti? How do we explain to them the harm in asking the Divine to maintain?
Friend2: What exactly are you maintaining? Don’t answer yet; that was a rhetorical question. As jiva souls deluded by the illusory energy known as maya, we don’t know what is good for us. We mistake a snake for a rope and vice versa. We think one politician will save us, but four years later we are eager to get rid of them. We blame the politician instead of the people who voted them into office.
Friend1: How can a home be bad for us, though? What is wrong in asking God to keep food on the table?
Friend2: Lack of true freedom. Being stuck in the cycle of birth and death. Having attachment to temporary things. Hari is another name for Vishnu. This means “one who takes away.” He is so merciful that He sometimes takes things away from the devotee that are very dear to them. He does this to benefit them.
Friend1: What is the benefit?
Friend2: The removal enables detachment from material things. What we’re asking to be maintained may be the greatest obstacle towards the purification of our consciousness. That’s why no matter the situation we find ourselves in, we should approach God the person, directly.
Friend1: Without a guru?
Friend2: By direct, I mean to the personality, not some vague concept. Obviously, we can’t reach the personality until someone explains to us who He is, how to offer prayers and the like. Even if you have a desire to maintain, approach Vishnu or one of His non-different forms like Krishna or Rama. Then there will be purification. That’s why that Gita verse is relevant. Krishna brings to the devotee what they lack. He maintains what they have, in terms of what is necessary for their devotion to flourish. That’s why bhakti-yoga is always the safest path to follow.
Through karma coming loss and gain,
No need through prayer to maintain.
My desire greatest obstacle could be,
Then with eyes of wisdom never to see.
To personal God better approach to take,
Even with desires auspicious situation to make.
For your devotion to flourish and thrive,
So after death in spiritual world to arrive.