Four Things Hari Might Take Away From Me

[Lord Vishnu]“Shrila Vishvanatha Chakravarti Thakura explains in this regard that the very word harih means ‘one who takes away.’ If one connects himself with Hari, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the Lord takes away all his miseries, and in the beginning the Lord also superficially appears to take away all his material possessions, reputation, education and beauty.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 8.19.32 Purport)

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It is a strange concept, for sure. The customary view, the default image of religious life, is sitting in a house of worship. The mood is serious. The attendees are in some kind of distress. They are looking for relief. Who better to offer assistance than the person controlling the entire universe?

His name in this respect is Jagannatha. The Lord of the entire collection of planetary systems. A person with a watchful eye, dispersed throughout space in the impersonal form, which is still worshipable. As He created the material nature, He can interject with respect to the laws of action and reaction. He can make someone do the impossible, like walk on water, if He so happens to favor them.

Antithetical it is when He would take away from someone who worships Him sincerely. The prayer is for the opposite, but the personal God is different in this regard. He applies discrimination. He is not bound to the desires of His worshipers. For this reason one of His names is Hari.

1. Possessions

“To keep up with the neighbors I have purchased an expensive car. Not that I really care either way. How much time do I spend driving on a given day? The money would have been better spent elsewhere, but the same principle applies to other aspects of the visual presentation.

“That is to say the house has to be a certain size. You don’t want people pitying you when they visit for a gathering. You want to show that you are succeeding in the business world. Those years of intense study have paid off. You earn enough to mingle with a higher class.

“The issue is that ever since worshiping the Supreme Lord in earnest, I have become poorer. Thus my possessions have naturally decreased. I no longer can afford to hold onto that second boat. The number of clothes has diminished, since I am unable to keep up with the latest fashion trends.”

2. Reputation

“His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada invokes the saying that no one listens to a poor person. There is the age-old expression that an empty sack cannot stand up straight. You need some kind of financial standing in order to influence the world. If not in net worth, then at least through influence from followers and supporters.

“The Supreme Lord has taken away my reputation. I am not a respected member of society for the mere fact that hardly anyone knows me. I cannot attend the big ticket political fundraiser dinners. I no longer can go to sporting events and enjoy with friends.

“God has taken away to the point that no one holds me in high esteem. I am something like isolated from everyone else. This is not what I envisioned the result to be from practicing genuine spiritual life.”

3. Education

“At the office I used to be the go-to person for difficult projects. They knew I could get the job done in the fastest amount of time. Minimal mistakes, but even if there were issues I could provide support after the fact. In both coding and debugging I was the best.

[education]“Since I have worshiped Bhagavan, my education is becoming relatively less. There are people at the office who are definitely more capable than me. I look at them as geniuses. It is no contest; really. I couldn’t accomplish what they do. I still have a job, but no way can I be placed at the top in terms of performance, which is ultimately based on perceived intelligence.”

4. Beauty

“A while back there was a popular game on the internet called, “The Ten Year Challenge.” Take a picture of yourself from today and compare it to one from ten years ago. See how you have dealt with all-devouring time. Have you been able to maintain a decent look? Maybe you are in better shape today than before?

“It is an interesting game for me, particularly because my intense worship of the Supreme Lord began around ten years ago. It is no contest. I have been utterly defeated. I am entirely less attractive than I was before. One glance tells it all. No sense complaining about it now, since the damage has been done.”

[Lord Vishnu]God is Hari because despite my protest to these changes in life conditions, everything is for the better. The higher purpose of increasing the devotional consciousness has been met. Bhagavan knows better than I do what is good for me. Despite so much that He might take away from me, I am eternally grateful that He continues to provide the chance to connect with Him, especially through the chanting of the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

In Closing:

For that always grateful,
The opportunity fateful.

Of chanting holy names routine,
And with saintly people convene.

Hari elsewhere away taking,
Such as less attractive making.

And not as popular to be,
But still always best for me.

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