Four Instances Where Teaching Just One Person Made A Significant Impact

[Lakshmi-Vishnu with Brahma]“Please tell me so that I may be taught in the matter by the instruction of the Personality of Godhead and may thus act instrumentally to generate living entities, without being conditioned by such activities.” (Lord Brahma, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 2.9.29)

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भगवच्-छिक्षितम् अहं
करवाणि ह्य् अतन्द्रितः
नेहमानः प्रजा-सर्गं
बध्येयं यद्-अनुग्रहात्

bhagavac-chikṣitam ahaṁ
karavāṇi hy atandritaḥ
nehamānaḥ prajā-sargaṁ
badhyeyaṁ yad-anugrahāt

“I appreciate everything the guru has done for me. Really, I mean that. I was wandering aimlessly in this world prior. I had no direction and was bewildered by the repeating pattern of weeks, months and years. I had so many questions as to the meaning of it all, especially when someone close passes on.

“To where have they gone? What was their mark in this world? Why did they have to leave? If every person has the same destiny after birth, what is the reason for appearing here in the first place? Perhaps family expansion and career advancement are not everything?

“These questions and more led to a fortunate meeting with the Bhagavad-gita, and my life has not been the same since. With all the increased happiness and clarity of purpose, the issue I am struggling with is helping others. I know that every person has the desire deep inside to serve the Almighty, to enter the one business that is something like the fountain of youth, bringing back a seemingly endless reservoir of energy due to the nature of the attachment and subsequent reciprocation.

“But I feel as if I am not reaching anyone. I am not a world-famous guru who has a flock trailing behind. I can barely convince someone to try a new food dish, let alone induce them to chant the maha-mantra for proper meditation. I feel like my efforts are of no value; I am worthless in furthering the mission. I will not be able to help others in the way that the guru saved me.”

While it is natural to feel this way, as who can match the amazing work of the Supreme Lord and those He has empowered to spread the message of Divine love, we see from Vedic literature that quality is more important than quantity. Reaching just a single person can make a significant impact.

1. Vishnu to Brahma

He is the creator. He takes the three ingredients of goodness, passion and ignorance to generate up to 8,400,000 different species. These are body types reserved as residence for jiva souls for varying lengths of time. The same individual could travel through the different species over successive lifetimes. The process is known as transmigration of the soul, or reincarnation.

Every person can trace their ancestry back to Brahma. He has much over which to be proud. One might find it interesting to learn that at first he did not know what to do. He had to receive guidance. Training came from Vishnu, who is the actual father of Brahma. Though Brahma is known as svayambhu, or self-born, he emerges from the lotus stem linked to the lotus-like navel of Vishnu.

[Lakshmi-Vishnu with Brahma]Brahma was ready to get to work, but he needed the help of a guide first. Vishnu taught only one person at that time. He gave direction to a single individual; many followers were not visible in that moment. That single information transfer led to the most amazing output: the creation of the world.

2. Narada to Valmiki

Just your average meeting of a robber and his victim. Nothing much to see. Curiously, Narada did not have anything with him. The thief waiting in the wings, Ratnakara, would come up empty this time. Except the victim did not just stand there. He asked some meaningful questions. Why was the thief acting this way? Was there family involved? Did he understand that the family would have to share in the sinful reactions of taking another person’s property?

That short bit of instruction resonated so much with the perpetrator that he agreed to surrender to Narada. The travelling devotee of Vishnu then recommended the chanting of the name Rama. Ratnakara could not properly pronounce it, but all hope was not lost. “Just say the word for death, which sounds like Rama anyway when repeated over and over.”

[Valmiki]Narada returned a long time later to find an anthill surrounding that person now so engrossed in the holy name of the Supreme Lord. He was initiated with the name Valmiki, and the rest is history. From a single interaction, in an isolated place, with no one else watching, Narada made such an impact that the world continues to benefit through the sacred Ramayana poem. This is Valmiki’s work beautifully describing the life and pastimes of Shri Rama, an avatara of Vishnu.

3. Narada to Vyasadeva

Originally, the scripture is one. There is just the single Veda. Through the ages man has a diminishing capacity for understanding higher topics. Due to Bhagavan’s mercy, saintly people appear now and then to provide assistance. Vyasadeva divided the Vedas into four and then further explained the concepts through historical accounts presented in many Puranas.

After an amazing output of meaningful literature attributed to him, Vyasa was still unsatisfied. A chance meeting with his guru, Narada Muni, changed the outlook. Urged to compose a work focusing on devotion to God, without material motivations mixed in, Vyasadeva gave the world the Bhagavata Purana, which is also known as Shrimad Bhagavatam. Once again, it was Narada guiding a single person, out of the spotlight but not any less important.

4. Shiva to Kakabhushundi

This famous crow goes to wherever Shri Rama’s pastimes are taking place. He can never get enough. He happily becomes victim to baby Rama’s childish play of taking the crow and placing it inside of His mouth. Kakabhushundi passes on the information to the worthy disciple named Garuda, who is actually the servant carrier of Vishnu in the spiritual world.

Kakabhushundi originally heard the story from Lord Shiva, who is always meditating on Shri Rama. Mahadeva takes great pleasure in describing God’s pastimes. He is an expert acharya who gives the ideal example of yukta-vairagya. Though he is a householder married to the most beautiful woman in Parvati, Shiva is completely renounced in spirit. It is not a dry kind of asceticism, either.

The positive activities are chanting, hearing and describing. Kakabhushundi heard and from there passed on the great story that eventually made its way to Goswami Tulsidas, who is considered the same Valmiki but appearing in a different time to offer mercy to the fallen people.

The idea is that even if only the walls are listening, Hari-katha should go on. At the very least the recitation will continue to purify the person who is speaking. If others should join in, all the better. As His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada says, it takes only one moon to light the night sky.

In Closing:

Okay if many not reaching,

Forward should go the teaching.

No harm in effort to try,

Just one moon in night’s sky.

Like Brahma from Vishnu heard,

Narada to thief a transformative word.

Even if only the walls to hear,

Hari-katha all obstacles to clear.

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