“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)
Friend1: Though bhakti-yoga is beyond rules and regulations, we know that there are certain offenses to be avoided.
Friend2: Particularly when chanting the holy names. By the way, these are really an offense to other devotees. The Supreme Lord does not mind. He is not some angry, old man living in the clouds, hovering over everyone in disappointment.
Friend1: He is always in bliss, ananda, and attractive in every way.
Friend2: Shri Krishna has the most justification for being offended. Consider how many people have forgotten Him through the years. A person can go many lifetimes, in fact, until they finally surrender.
Friend1: Okay, we know that the offenses are listed. One of them is to not equate the holy name with some sort of activity bringing a material benefit.
Friend2: Karma. This is action and reaction pertaining specifically to a temporary body. There is a whole section of the Vedas dedicated to this purpose. Karma-kanda.
Friend1: Yes, and so we’re not seeking after anything in that area. The maha-mantra is simply a humble offering to the Lord and His energy to be allowed to further engage in their service: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Friend2: You nailed it.
Friend1: Well, of course I have set you up once again.
Friend2: Time to raise a contradiction?
Friend1: If a person hears the Bhagavata Purana, also known as Shrimad Bhagavatam, they find sprinkled here and there some rewards.
Friend2: Such as?
Friend1: Take the story of the Syamantaka Jewel. At the end, the reciter, Shukadeva Gosvami, promises something to the effect of immunity from defamation.
Friend2: You mean if someone hears that story with attention and faith they will not be falsely accused of something, in the way that Shri Krishna in Dvaraka was?
Friend1: Exactly. At the beginning of the Ramayana there is the promise of getting to enjoy in the heavenly realm with your ancestors and relatives. I think that’s what Narada says, but I could be imprecise with the exact details. Regardless, you see what I am getting at.
Friend2: I do not.
Friend1: Come on! Those are material rewards. Who cares if I am free from defamation? Shri Krishna was accused of stealing a silly jewel that produced gold. Sita Devi, the wife of the Supreme Lord, had false rumors spread about her time in Lanka against her will. If those two can’t get a fair shake, who am I to expect one?
Friend2: I’m not sure what you are saying here. Is this something like the football team declining a penalty? You don’t want these benefits, since you are so advanced in consciousness?
Friend1: You know that is not what I am saying. If the Bhagavata Purana is the ripened fruit of Vedic literature, why are there rewards of karma included?
Friend2: That is an easy one. I use this analogy all the time. Trying to get an infant to do anything important is difficult. Some babies flip over immediately when you go to change their diaper. You have to distract them with a toy or something. The toy is not important to the equation, at all. You give a temporary reward in order to progress towards a higher benefit.
Friend1: And the same applies to these promises for hearing with attention?
Friend2: Absolutely. Maharaja Parikshit sat for seven days and did nothing but hear. We would love to do the same, but who actually can follow through? These rewards make you feel good, hopefully. You will develop a further attachment to Krishna-katha, which as a standalone can provide liberation.
Benefitted those who hear,
That avoiding defamation’s smear.
Or that in heaven to reside,
When with Ramayana to side.
But offense to bhakti not,
Since material benefit got?
Idea that grab attention a way,
More important that after to stay.