“Even at the risk of death such a devotee is never bereft of the transcendental loving service of the Lord. A glorious example of this ecstatic love was exhibited by King Parikshit when he was at the point of death. Although he was bereft of his entire kingdom, which spread over all the world, and although he was accepting not even a drop of water in the seven days remaining to him, because he was engaged in hearing the transcendental pastimes of the Lord from Shukadeva Gosvami, he was not in the least distressed.” (The Nectar of Devotion, Ch 37)
“One thing I constantly hear emphasized is the importance of Krishna-katha. These are discourses or discussions on the Supreme Lord in the two-handed manifestation, considered the original by certain Vaishnavas. Within that discussion there is particular importance given to the lila, or pastimes. The suggestion is to listen with rapt attention to the daily activities of the avatara who so kindly graced the sacred land of Vrindavana.
“Just to take the skeptic’s point of view, what is so special about what anyone does on a regular basis? If death is the guaranteed end to life, then everyone is pretty much on equal footing. One guy drinks adult beverages every day for forty years. Another person runs for miles and miles and consumes a healthy diet. The end-result is the same. Therefore, what is significant in hearing about Krishna stealing butter, dealing with bad characters, and speaking the wisdom of the ages to the bow-warrior named Arjuna?”
1. They are nice stories
A wicked ruler of the town called Mathura wants a baby dead. This is the king’s own nephew. Kamsa will stop at nothing to get the job done, as a prophecy warned him of the worst fate. The eighth child emerging from the womb of Devaki would signal Kamsa’s demise.
To hear how an infant and then later a toddler reacted to and triumphed over bad characters is heartwarming. No one likes it when evil wins over good. Even the thieves are upset should one of the members of their band of criminals happen to walk away with a larger portion than what was originally agreed upon.
Krishna deals with a witch who tries to kill through poison on her breast. He defeats a powerful creature who takes the shape of a false cave. He weighs down a whirlwind who was so proud of his ability to ascend high into the sky.
There is the lila associated with Bhagavan’s other avataras, as well. As Shri Rama, the Supreme Lord honors the commitment to honesty in the father, Dasharatha. He defends the innocent sages residing in the forest against the attacks of night-ranging ogres who are known to change their shapes at will.
2. There is already the tendency to hear about others
Newspapers stay in business for a reason. They discuss other people. They can make an ordinary person famous, and they can take down the most powerful person in the world, if they so choose.
Books, television and audio recordings belong to the same category. People have a tendency to hear about others. This is nature’s way. The mind can escape to a different environment and setting without having to change physical location.
Why not use the tendency for good? Bhagavan’s lila is endless. While there may be a limit in terms of page-count for the total of available published volumes describing His accounts, that only begins to scratch the surface. The Vedas are ever-expanding for a reason. The glorification of Bhagavan’s gunas is as endless, ananta, as Bhagavan Himself.
3. It is better than fiction
The less intelligent will not believe that an empowered individual in a monkey form could leap over an ocean. The cheaters and the mental speculators will vehemently argue against taking any of the Vedas literally.
“Understand it for the symbolism only. Take it as allegory. The rishis intentionally hid the truths in these mythical accounts in order to attract people towards the Divine way of life.”
As Bhagavan is the very source of life, His pastimes are better than art. He has the most artistic mind, and so His play in the manifest world defeats anything a fictional writer could ever imagine.
Deep down, the non-believers understand that there is something significant to the pastimes of the Lord. Otherwise, they would happily dress up as the different characters and celebrate at regular intervals, as they are known to do with popular fictional television and movie franchises.
4. Why not be happy
Even if you are the greatest skeptic, where you swear to never believe in God and the concept of an intelligent designer to the creation, you still have to pass the time in some way. Why not make the experience enjoyable? Why not be happy instead of miserable? The material path guarantees only that: continued misery.
Even if you succeed in something, you have to deal with time’s devouring nature, which thereby limits the enjoyment. If you take pleasure in someone else’s misfortune, then why not hear about the catastrophic fall from grace of Ravana, the ten-headed king of Lanka? Bhagavan is accessible from all angles of vision, and so every person has the chance to pass the time with Him by their side.
5. The best way to end life
Take it from someone who had everything going for him. He enjoyed life to the fullest. Near the end, he had the blessing of knowing the precise arrival of death. He chose to spend the remaining time listening to Krishna-katha. This was the best way to pass the days, which are limited for everyone. It also guaranteed the best end moving forward.
Just as school is in preparation for the next phase of life known as adulthood, this entire lifetime paves the way for the next birth. If the trailing moments are spent contemplating the Absolute, then the duality of birth and death no longer take effect. The ultimate end is reached, and easily at that: through hearing.
Fruits of work not sustaining,
Since limited time remaining.
Why not in Krishna-katha spend?
Where benefits to future to extend.
Great stories and historical too,
Benefit even if thinking untrue.
Be happy and the consciousness clear,
Like Parikshit steady in attention to hear.
Categories: the five