“The Maha-Vishnu lies down in some part of the spiritual sky by His own free will. Thus He lies on the ocean of karana, from where He glances over His material nature, and the mahat-tattva is at once created. Thus electrified by the power of the Lord, the material nature at once creates innumerable universes, just as in due course a tree decorates itself with innumerable grown fruits.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 1.3.2 Purport)
Friend1: If you think about it, every great person needs some help along the way.
Friend2: I think that is rather obvious, stemming from birth alone.
Friend1: Well, yeah, but I’m referring specifically to things done that make them known as great.
Friend2: So am I. You can’t build a large business empire unless you were educated to some degree during youth. You can’t run a marathon without first learning how to walk. And you can’t walk and talk without some assistance from elders.
Friend1: Okay, thank you for getting in the way of my presentation again. You are correct. Parents, educators, guardians, role models – they are vital to success. Even in adulthood there are outside factors that contribute to meeting objectives.
Friend2: For sure. From Vedic philosophy we get the three sources of misery. The place where you live can get struck by an earthquake. That is completely out of our control. There could be a bad character in society who causes harm to innocent people. Then there is disease. Someone wants to compete in the final round of the championship, but they are injured. Nothing can be done to fix the situation.
Friend1: You look at great figures from history. Shri Hanuman. He is so amazing, but he got help from people, most notable among them Shri Rama.
Friend2: This is the original help that every person receives. Rama is Bhagavan, or the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He is within every single being as the Supersoul, also known as Paramatma. Supersoul is also Vishnu, who is God in His four-handed and opulently adorned form.
Friend1: Sita helps Hanuman, too. She is the goddess of fortune, the wife of Rama. She provides whatever Hanuman needs to continue in his devotion.
Friend2: Very good. And in turn Hanuman helps so many people to find the right path in life. He is an inspiration for reaching success in spiritual life, which is the second and more important birth of which the human being has the potential for entering.
Friend1: Okay. I am glad we are in agreement. It’s acknowledged that people need some kind of help. Could we also use this truth as another way to define God?
Friend2: What do you mean?
Friend1: Could we say that God is the one person who doesn’t need help?
Friend2: Oh, for sure. He is atmarama. This means “completely satisfied in the self.” He doesn’t require anyone’s assistance. He can accomplish His tasks effortlessly. Shri Hanuman even once noted this feature in Rama.
“If I narrate about Rama, her dear husband whose actions are effortless, she will not be frightened, as her mind will be absorbed in thoughts of her husband.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 30.41)
Friend1: Alright, so do you know the counterargument, i.e. what people who disagree will say?
Friend2: What is there to disagree on? Give me one example where God needs someone’s help to do something.
Friend1: I can give you many. Rama needed the help of the Vanaras to build the bridge to Lanka. During youth He received mantras for fighting from the preceptor, Vishvamitra. During the final battle with Ravana, Agastya Rishi taught Rama the prayer to the sun-god for achieving victory. As Krishna the Supreme Lord got assistance from the father Vasudeva in being transferred to Gokula after emerging from the womb of Devaki. Need I go on?
Friend2: No need.
Friend1: What is your response, then?
Friend2: None of those invalidate the claim. Those are all opportunities for service. They give the chance for others to offer assistance. If Bhagavan only manifest in aishvarya, or amazing opulence, no one would have impetus to serve. They would stay far away, respecting in awe and reverence.
Friend2: Very good!
Friend1: I try.
Friend2: Bhagavan makes Himself a dependent so that others will feel the need for service. It’s the only way the higher rasas, or transcendental mellows, can be entered into. And from those other interactions there is more pleasure derived. So it is a kind of mercy.
Friend1: I see.
Friend2: And remember, this universe comes to be through simple breathing. Bhagavan in His form of Vishnu lies down and exhales. From a single breath so many universes manifest. At the corresponding inhalation, everything gets destroyed. Vishnu does this while lying down. The material world is thus not very important to Him. The scene also symbolizes how God does not require much effort to do something that is inconceivable to us. We know of no other person who can create, maintain and destroy on such a scale.
Without effort, while lying down,
From exhaling countless universes abound.
Then inhaling into Him coming back,
On largest scale, exhaustion to lack.
Still sometimes dependent becoming,
So others to His assistance coming.
Like Vanaras the bridge to build,
With devotional love those hearts filled.