“In the Shrimad-Bhagavatam it is said that anyone who hears the story of the Syamantaka jewel or describes it or simply remembers it will be free from all kinds of defamation and the reactions of all impious activities and thus will attain the highest perfectional condition of peace.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 2, Ch 2)
One of the many points made in favor of bhakti-yoga is the position above duality; an elevation of sorts. The material world is full of flaws, starting with the issue of limitations. Time and space are beyond the scope of understanding for the human mind, which means that even the smartest person in the world is held back in their potential. While the infant starts at a point of full dependence, there is the expectation that some sort of independence will be reached later on. Still, there is a threshold, a place at which further progress cannot be made.
Bhakti-yoga is spiritual; it targets the needs of the spirit soul. Though miniature in size, the ability of the soul is amazing. Take the tip of a piece of hair. Then divide that tip into ten thousand parts. One of the parts is comparable to the size of the individual soul, which animates every kind of living species. Both the elephant and the ant have the same kind of soul within. The infant and the adult, though with different kinds of bodies but a singular identity, have the same soul inside.
Spiritual life transcends the limitations of material life. The soul has the potential for boundless bliss. In the higher realm one minus one can equal one. This law is illogical to us, but such conditions can exist in a place without limitations.
Material life lacks perfection from the very fact that death must occur. Whatever gains are made must be erased at some point in the future. Moreover, with duality no single condition is universally auspicious or applauded. The story of a father and son travelling with a camel is an example.
1. Why aren’t they riding the camel
At first the pair is pulling the camel along. Father and son walking together, and the camel behind them. A group sees this and starts to snicker. They think the pair to be fools. There is a camel with them, so why are they walking? Even worse, why are they pulling and thereby expending more energy unnecessarily? The suggestion is that the father, the elderly person in comparison, ride on the camel while the child walks and pulls.
2. Why is the father letting the son suffer
A change in situation has not brought a change in level of acceptance. Another group sees what is going on and has their own criticism. They wonder how the father can be so cruel as to take service from the son. The poor child is walking and pulling, while the father is doing nothing. The suggestion is made for a role reversal. The child should sit on the camel while the father pulls.
3. Why is the son torturing the father
Another group sees the new orientation and wonders how the son could torture the father like this. Youths are known to have more energy. Their body hasn’t begun to break down yet. The father might do serious damage to himself by working so hard. The son should know better.
4. Why are they torturing the camel
The last change is to have both father and son ride the camel. This way no one is being shown favoritism. Of course this doesn’t please everyone, either. Another group sees this and is concerned about the welfare of the camel. They wonder how the father and son can torture the poor animal in that way. The suggestion is that it would be better if they both got off and walked alongside the camel.
Thus in every situation there was something positive and something negative. Those striving for perfection in reputation can also look to the incident of the Syamantaka Jewel, described in the Shrimad Bhagavatam. This occurred within the kingdom of Dvaraka, ruled at the time by Shri Krishna, who is God Himself, appearing in the material world as an avatara. Though blessing the eyes of the devotees and demons alike, there was still no contact with the material nature. Bhagavan is above the dualities with which we currently contend.
“Fools deride Me when I descend in the human form. They do not know My transcendental nature and My supreme dominion over all that be.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.11)
A person named Satrajit received this amazing jewel from the sun-god. Called the Syamantaka, it could produce so much gold on a daily basis, when worshiped properly. The wealth got to Satrajit’s head, and through a series of events the jewel became lost. Rumors began to circulate that maybe Krishna had stolen it due to jealousy.
Though the acting energy is different when in the direct presence of God, the illusion from that case is very instructive. No one is completely safe from defamation except the devotees, who escape the material world due to their fixed consciousness on the lotus feet of the Supreme Lord. They become liberated even before death, and so the dualities of material nature don’t have the same influence on them.
Father and son with camel to go,
First both pulling it so.
From outside criticism to find,
Then father on top to climb.
Later still positions to reverse,
Desperate for ideal solution search.
Ways of duality in material world showing,
Solved only when spiritual world to going.
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