“Prahlada Maharaja replied: Because of their uncontrolled senses, persons too addicted to materialistic life make progress toward hellish conditions and repeatedly chew that which has already been chewed. Their inclinations toward Krishna are never aroused, either by the instructions of others, by their own efforts, or by a combination of both.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 7.5.30)
Shri Krishna is all-attractive. That is one of the meanings to His name. He is also blackish in complexion. The color is compared to the dark raincloud. While the cloud on the horizon is ominous if there is a desire to play outside, with Krishna the shower portends endless opportunities for service. This service is blissful since it is the soul’s essential characteristic.
A living thing cannot live without service. In the conditioned state it chooses against Krishna, or God, going for maya, or illusion, instead. In addition to His all-attractiveness, Krishna is the right person to approach since He uses discrimination. In other words, He might not give me what I want.
He is extremely kind for applying this discretion. In both material and spiritual life there is buyer’s remorse. In material life we make mistakes all the time. In spiritual life we approach different divine figures, defined as demigods in the Vedic culture, and ask for things. There are some classic examples of buyer’s remorse, where we regretted our decision after the fact.
1. That full pizza pie
I was so hungry after a long day at the office. Then I went and exercised outside. It’s the summer time, so the heat increases the exertion. When I got home, I heard that my wife went out to pick up pizza. I can’t say “no” to that. When the pie arrived, we all sat at the dinner table and started eating. I know that no one else in the family enjoys pizza as much as I do. Since I was hungry, I was eating faster than the others.
We have a big family, so there were two pies. Pretty soon, I noticed I was close to eating an entire pie myself. Everyone else urged me on. They said to go for it, as otherwise the food would go to waste. I felt okay. I was no longer hungry. Still, I decided to finish it off.
My initial desire was met. What was the result later on? Major indigestion. My stomach felt like it doubled in size about an hour later. I had so much trouble sleeping at night. When I woke up after a full eight hours of sleep, it felt like I hadn’t slept at all. Going for the whole pie was a mistake.
2. That brand new job
My boss started getting to me. I didn’t like the way he was treating the other employees. The direction of the company didn’t look good. It was time to move on. I desperately wanted to work somewhere else. I worked hard sending out resumes and going on job interviews to the point that I finally got a position somewhere else.
Once again, my desire was met. I quickly became even more miserable at the new job. Previously, I had my own office, but now I shared a small space with six other people. Everyone on top of one another. You could hear every person’s conversation. You had to punch in and out. They tracked your hours. It was miserable. I hated it.
3. That woman
This is the age-old tale for men and women alike. Meet someone, fall in love, get married, end of story. Or is it? I went after this girl that I was so attached to. I wouldn’t take “no” for an answer. I prayed that we would get together, for it seemed like I couldn’t live without her.
My desire was met, but soon thereafter we grew to hate each other. I looked for a divorce attorney quickly. I wanted out as soon as possible. I could no longer stand this woman. She made my life so miserable. How quickly things can change.
4. A night of drinking
It’s the end of the week. My friends and I don’t have to go to work until Monday. Let’s go out for a night of drinking. What else are we going to do with our free time? Why not enjoy a little? Have some fun, get a little crazy.
The next morning I feel terrible. I’m throwing up constantly. I’m in no mood to eat. I don’t want to go anywhere. Let me just stay in the house the entire day. My original desire was met. I got what I wanted. But why am I so miserable now? Boy did I make a mistake.
5. That reward from the demigod
Any of the above can be granted by a divine figure. Of course the scope of rewards is much greater, spanning everything in a material creation. This needn’t be a theoretical exercise exclusively. Vedic texts have examples of worshipers who received so much. Hiranyakashipu got protection that made him about ninety-nine percent immortal. Ravana was similarly blessed. They both worked hard in worship to get what they desired.
Vrikasura asked for the boon to be able to kill someone simply by placing his hand on their head. Lord Shiva granted the boon and the ungrateful fiend thanked him by promptly chasing after him. Eventually, Lord Vishnu, who is the same Krishna, convinced Vrikasura to test the boon on his own head. Crisis averted.
The reward from the demigod is regretted later on since it doesn’t bring enlightenment. If I ask for money, wealth, fame, power, success in marriage, and the like, I may get what I want. But the reward doesn’t necessarily bring me closer to my real identity of servant of God. It doesn’t make me any happier in the long run since everything in the material world is temporary.
“The unsuccessful yogi, after many, many years of enjoyment on the planets of the pious living entities, is born into a family of righteous people, or into a family of rich aristocracy.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 6.41)
There is no buyer’s remorse in bhakti-yoga, devotional service, since the benefits never get erased. Even if at the time of death I am not a perfect yogi, I get to continue in the next life from where I left off. Approaching Krishna directly gradually brings an elevation in consciousness. I soon see the futility in chasing after material rewards. Prahlada Maharaja knew this at a young age. He taught this to his friends, hoping to save them valuable time and effort. His father was on the other side of things, and in the end it became clear that Prahlada’s side was the superior one.
Remorse to have as buyer,
Since regretted what to transpire.
After what I asked for getting,
Pain of the mistake quickly setting.
Prahlada to chewing the chewed comparing,
When to father supremacy of bhakti declaring.
From Bhagavad-gita the promise made,
That even to unsuccessful yogi benefits paid.
Categories: the five