“O my Lord, best of the givers of benediction, if You at all want to bestow a desirable benediction upon me, then I pray from Your Lordship that within the core of my heart there be no material desires.” (Prahlada Maharaja, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 7.10.7)
Friend1: What is the most important gift?
Friend2: To me?
Friend1: Of all gifts. Let’s play the game that I am a genie.
Friend2: I always knew there was something wrong with you!
Friend1: Very funny.
Friend2: And why do I only get one wish? What kind of genie are you?
Friend1: Are you finished?
Friend2: I didn’t even rub a lamp. You just appear from out of nowhere?
Friend1: You’re getting one wish. Anything you want. What are you going to ask for?
Friend2: The purpose of this is to criticize me somehow, I’m guessing.
Friend1: We’re trying to figure out the most important thing in life. The most precious gift.
Friend2: I hope you realize that it’s relative. Every person is in a different situation. The time continuum operates, and so there are different snapshots of the body-spirit combination.
Friend1: There you go again with one of your lectures. You can’t pick one thing that would be important to everyone?
Friend2: If it’s a child that is lonely because their father has to travel, they would wish for the association of their father. That would be the most important thing to them. A person struggling in school would ask for knowledge. A couple trying to conceive would ask for a child.
Friend1: Like King Dasharatha.
Friend2: There you go. He was advanced in years and still childless. More specifically, he was without a son. A brahmana helped him to perform a yajna, and from the remnants partaken by the three queens, four beautiful and divine sons came soon thereafter.
Friend1: I think you have accidentally stumbled upon the answer.
Friend2: What’s that?
Friend1: Dasharatha got God’s association. The first son was Rama, an avatara of the Divine. That must be the most precious gift.
Friend2: Not everyone is going to get His association in that way. Moreover, it was temporary for Dasharatha. Rama did not stay in this world forever. The king was so heartbroken at the thought of fourteen years of separation, that he quit his body.
Friend1: That is a good point. We know of many people who have seen God, interacted with Him, done amazing things for Him. And yet the association ended at some point. What gives?
Friend2: The answer to your question is remembrance of the Supreme Lord. More specifically, continued remembrance in service. There is nothing more valuable. It is the most precious gift.
Friend1: Thank you.
Friend2: We can take it on the authority of Prahlada Maharaja. He suffered so much for his devotion. The father turned into an aggressor. Practically, there were no friends in the kingdom. God arrived as Narasimhadeva to protect the boy. He asked Prahlada to take any boon of his choosing. Prahlada asked to simply continue in bhakti, to remember the Lord, by remaining free from material desires. He didn’t want to be rewarded materially for having been such a good devotee. The same applies for Hanuman, who asked to remain in this world for as long as Rama’s glories continue to be told. These wise souls knew what they were doing. They knew the most valuable gift and they made sure to get it.
A genie from lamp suddenly to see,
Kindly asking to take wishes three.
But what if only getting one,
Which gift most valuable to be won?
From Prahlada Maharaja learn,
Who favor of Supreme Lord to earn.
Asked only of material desires to be free,
From clear consciousness God always to see.