“Materialists are very much advanced in enjoying money and women, yet dissatisfaction prevails within human society because human society cannot be happy and peaceful without Krishna consciousness. As far as material sense gratification is concerned, materialists may go on increasing their enjoyment as far as they can imagine, but because people in such a material condition are servants of their senses, they cannot be satisfied. Hiranyakashipu was a vivid example of this dissatisfied state of humanity.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 7.4.19 Purport)
An important personality has passed. More to help the grieving family than anything else, there is a funeral ceremony held shortly after the departure. The final goodbye, getting closure after a typically unwanted and unwelcomed incident. The soul has moved on, but others are left to feel the separation.
At the ceremony friends and family are asked to speak. It is a tough speech to give, since there is strong emotion weighing on the heart. From the importance placed on certain aspects of material life, it is interesting to see what praises are generally not part of the eulogy.
1. They slept so much
You likely wouldn’t hear the following, as it is not considered complimentary:
“This man slept so much. I mean, they really got everything out of the sleeping arrangements. On average, ten hours a night. They didn’t require medicine or other physical aids. They were naturally able to take rest for that long. They had the softest mattress, with the most comfortable sheets and pillows. They sure knew how to relax.”
2. They ate so much
The following probably wouldn’t be included in the speech, either:
“Wow, could they put down food. An entire pizza in one sitting? Fifty chicken wings to devour in a contest? A twenty-four pack of beer? No sweat. They knew how to enjoy their food. They would eat gigantic meals, three times a day. More calories than with your typical Olympic athlete. They sure knew the meaning of the word ‘bhoga’.”
3. They enjoyed so many women
Especially if the wife of the departed is present at the ceremony, the following wouldn’t be considered pleasant:
“Wow, did they get around! It’s impossible to get a final tally, but ten to twenty thousand is a safe estimate. They were a travelling athlete, after all. In every town they arrived, the women lined up after the game. There was no reason to decline, as this was considered the height of enjoyment. They knew how to take advantage of everything that accompanied fame and power.”
There is an important Sanskrit word of relevance to the discussion: ajitendriya. A negation of two combined factors, the description is specifically applicable to two infamous personalities within the history chronicled by Vedic literature.
Indriya refers to the senses. The connected activities are tasting, speaking, touching, hearing and seeing. Jita refers to victory. A person who is jitendriya has conquered the senses. Suffice it to say, this is not easily accomplished.
In fact, the more a person falls on the side of jitendriya, the more that attribute is highlighted in the above referenced hypothetical situation of a eulogy. A charitable disposition automatically involves restriction on the senses. Sacrificing time and body for the benefit of others means that there is less attachment on the objects of the senses.
अवश्यं विनशिष्यन्ति सर्वे रावण राक्षसाः|
येषां त्वं कर्कशो राजा दुर्बुद्धिरजितेन्द्रियः||
avaśyaṃ vinaśiṣyanti sarve rāvaṇa rākṣasāḥ|
yeṣāṃ tvaṃ karkaśo rājā durbuddhirajitendriyaḥ||
“O Ravana, inevitably all of the Rakshasas will be completely destroyed, for they have a person like you, who is stupid, lustful, and unable to control his senses, for their king.” (Sita Devi speaking to Ravana, Valmiki Ramayana, Aranya Kand, 48.22)
Both Hiranyakashipu and Ravana were described as ajitendriya. The senses controlled them, instead of the other way around. The mention is significant since in every other analysis they would be considered victorious. They succeeded in material life beyond anyone’s imagination. More than having loads of stock in a publicly traded company, they possessed genuine wealth. In Hiranyakashipu’s case, there was control over the demigods. Everything produced by nature went for his pleasure first.
Yet the ajitendriya condition means that happiness was elusive. The same applies to everyone engaged in material life. If becoming king of the world itself doesn’t make you happy, why chase after it? There has to be more. The one who is jitendriya is at peace. They have kept the senses at bay, and so they are free to meet the needs of the soul.
The jitendriya trait arrives seemingly without effort when everything is offered in sacrifice to the master of all senses combined, Hrishikesha. This was the case with Prahlada, the soon to arrive son of Hiranyakashipu. He was only five years old when he showed his amazing ability to conquer the forces of nature. The connection with Bhagavan was too strong for even the formidable enemy in the form of the father to overcome.
Departed’s qualities to consider,
When task of eulogy to deliver.
Likely on these dwelling not,
Over how much sleep they got.
How many targeted women found,
Or large meals regularly put down.
Rather any sense control to address,
For devotee Krishna easily to bless.