Four Case Studies For Understanding Worship Of Vishnu

[Lord Vishnu]“In the Padma Purana Lord Shiva explains to his wife, Parvati, the goddess Durga, that the highest goal of life is to satisfy Lord Vishnu, who can be satisfied only when His servant is satisfied.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 7.10.6 Purport)

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The acharya has a project for you. Rather than have them speak for an hour or so, hoping that the people in attendance are paying attention, they want others to think for themselves. Let them reach the proper conclusion through deliberation, question and answer, and applied theory.

The assignment for today goes something like this:

“We have four different situations. They are relatable to your average adult. This is not like trying to imagine what it is like to be a billionaire or the leader of the free world. Take the student, the employee and the citizen. For each case tell me what makes someone excel. In other words, how do we tell what is appropriate or satisfactory for each situation.”

1. A good student

The host of the popular radio talk show invites listeners to call in. He explains that a good caller is not someone who is necessarily over the top in their praise of the show or the performer. Rather, an insightful remark or a thought-provoking question is what actually helps the program. If the caller can make the host look good, they have done their job.

The concept is similar with the student. Help the teacher to get through to others. Allow for theoretical ideas to be fully grasped. The two Sanskrit words are jnana and vijnana. The first is the theoretical understanding. Something like memorizing that one plus one equals two in mathematics.

Vijnana is actually knowing that if I add one more apple to the one I currently possess, I will then have two apples. Of the two, vijnana is more important. The teacher can stand in front of the classroom for hours and not make a difference if no one is paying attention.

तद् विद्धि प्रणिपातेन
परिप्रश्नेन सेवया
उपदेक्ष्यन्ति ते ज्ञानं
ज्ञानिनस् तत्त्व-दर्शिनः

tad viddhi praṇipātena
paripraśnena sevayā
upadekṣyanti te jñānaṁ
jñāninas tattva-darśinaḥ

“Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized soul can impart knowledge unto you because he has seen the truth.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.34)

[Prabhupada]A good student is respectful of the teacher. There is the verse from the Bhagavad-gita recommending the approach towards a tattva-darshi, someone who has seen the real truth. Inquiries should be made, but not in a challenging manner. Respect the teacher and you will have a better chance of getting something out of the interaction. The bad student causes disruptions. They don’t pay attention and thus derive little benefit out of the class.

2. A good employee

A manager in charge of one or more employees can easily spot out the good ones. They know the characteristics required to identify someone as excelling:

“The most important thing is reliability. If I have someone that I can count on to get the job done, that makes my life much easier. Even if they should run into trouble, at least I can trust their judgment. I know that they are trying their best. Most of all, they understand that getting the task completed helps me. They are not in it for themselves.”

3. A good citizen

This is rather easy to identify, as well. Take the population of the prison centers. Find what it is that got them there and then do the opposite. A simpler way of understanding is that the people who follow the rules, the law, are usually the good citizens. They respect the higher authorities. They understand that the laws are ideally implemented for everyone’s benefit.

As an example, I may not like the red light stopping me at an intersection, but respect for the rules allows others to drive safely. If I am on the other side, travelling through a green light, I depend on the faithful adherence to the red light by the other drivers. Without such respect, there is chaos.

4. A good devotee

The exercise of reviewing the three situations leads to the understanding of a fourth. The acharya explains the need for Vishnu-aradhyate. Worship the Supreme Lord in the personal form. Follow His recommendations. The guidance from above will lead to the best destination in the future. Brahma utilized this support for creating the entire universe. Arjuna heard and achieved success in the Bharata War. Uddhava listened attentively to meet an auspicious end amidst the calamity of the fall of the Yadu dynasty.

If a person denies the existence of the Almighty, then they have no chance of falling into this “good category.” They get punished in a way similar to those sentenced to prison. The difference is that the holding cell is much larger and features many more illusions, which fluctuate between good and bad. The length of stay can continue indefinitely into the future, with transmigration of the body accounting for variety in experience.

[Lord Vishnu]Those who qualify as “good,” who have the Divine qualities described by Krishna in the Bhagavad-gita, get the immediate benefit of peace, tranquility, and purpose in direction. The end-benefit is the culmination of the cycle of birth and death, with liberation awaiting at life’s end.

In Closing:

A good student can spot,

When attention to teacher got.

Employee the jobs completing,

Not purpose of boss defeating.

Citizen the laws to obey,

Devotee in similar way.

Vishnu and representative respecting,

Benefits for today and future collecting.

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