“While Vasudeva was carrying his son Krishna in the falling rain, Lord Shesha in the shape of a serpent spread His hood over the head of Vasudeva so that he would not be hampered by the rainfall. Vasudeva came onto the bank of the Yamuna and saw that the water of the Yamuna was roaring with waves and that the whole span was full of foam. Still, in that furious feature, the river gave passage to Vasudeva to cross, just as the great Indian Ocean gave a path to Lord Rama when He was bridging over the gulf.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 3)
Krishna consciousness. This is the English equivalent used by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada to describe the Sanskrit terms of bhakti-yoga, sanatana-dharma, bhagavata-dharma and others.
How to relate to people not immersed in the culture? How to provide an understanding for something that at its essence is beyond the body and mind? How to persuade others to take up the process when it is otherwise foreign to them?
Shrila Prabhupada explains it as consciousness. The connection of the individual with something else. The proper link is yoga, and it involves two sides. On the other end is God, but that word fails to properly convey the importance, the magnitude, and the potency of the entity being connected to.
The Sanskrit word Krishna is more appropriate. It speaks to God’s all-attractiveness, and how He is full of features. We are attracted to distinguishable objects; of this there is no doubt. As nothingness is the absence of features, and it has little appeal.
Every aspect to Krishna is attractive, including the culture dedicated to Him. This is known as service, and so Prabhupada uses the terms “Krishna consciousness” and “devotional service” interchangeably. At the heart of spiritual life is a dedication to action, kriya, which culminates in a perfect link, yoga.
There is difficulty in both understanding the process and subsequently applying it. Surely, a component activity like chanting the holy names is simple and straightforward enough. Just repeat a mantra on a regular basis: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Anyone who has made the attempt understands the many surrounding obstacles. Theoretically, I may know the difference between body and spirit, yet I can’t help but lament at the plight of others. I know that I should be remembering Krishna and His associates, as that will bring me happiness, but I tend to dwell on recent events in my own life.
I know that death will take everything away at the end. Guaranteed separation. Forced isolation. Compulsory travel to another body. Yet I remain bogged down by the temporary. I cannot shake the illusion. In one sense I feel like complaining to Krishna and His representatives:
“Why do you guys make things so difficult? I have an earnest desire. I am not a cheater. I really want to make progress. But I am an utter failure. Maybe in the next life I will be qualified to succeed.”
The difficulty is actually beneficial. It substantiates the value of the goal; collateral for the cause. It makes working that much harder worth it. It prevents the cheaters from cheapening the process, from mistaking an intellectually based discipline as something entirely sentimental.
We can take a simple example from daily life to correlate. For many years I have been consuming a specific medication during the spring season. This is for dealing with allergies. This medicine is rather potent, and it has significant side effects. I have deemed the risks worth the experience because of the severity of the allergic reaction to pollen, grass, and trees.
My biggest complaint for years has been the difficulty associated with simply obtaining the medication. There is the initial requirement of providing identification at the drug store. It seems that one of the ingredients in the medicine can be used for producing an illegal intoxicant in the home. Thus the purchases are limited and tracked by the government.
I am not a drug dealer, so I am inconvenienced by this requirement. Moreover, there isn’t even an identification requirement for voting in elections. You would think that is more important. After purchasing the medication, accessing a single pill is not straightforward. You have to maneuver around the packaging and really dig inside to extract the pill. If taking on a daily basis, it becomes really annoying.
Years later, I suddenly have a different perspective. This change occurs after witnessing my young child trying to access the medication, which is inside one of the cabinets in the bathroom. At first I am alarmed, worrying that the medication will have a terrible consequence if ingested by the child.
But then I remember the difficulty with the packaging. There is no way for a child to gain access. It would take a miracle, a chance occurrence. I will maintain an eye on them, but I understand that I am mostly in the clear. Thank God for the packaging, I think to myself.
A person advancing along the path of Krishna consciousness will have a similar reaction. They will be thankful for the difficulties, such as in the case of Vasudeva crossing the Yamuna River. He should have had the easiest ride, so to speak. He was holding Krishna the person, incarnated on earth. As Krishna was a baby at the time, Vasudeva was playing the role of protective father.
He came upon one difficulty after another, but he passed each obstacle. He was at the banks of a raging Yamuna River during a rainstorm, in the middle of the night. How could any sane person carry an infant safely across at such a time?
Yet the higher powers enabled safe passage. The devotion was pure, and so success was assured. This was Krishna’s direct influence, and we should not think that He is absent from our lives. He is just as much by our side, waiting for our sincere turn in His direction.
Success to assure,
When devotion pure.
Like for Vasudeva not a loss,
When considering river to cross.
With baby Krishna in hand,
On great obstacle to land.
But blessed because remembered so,
Eternal treasure for those ready to go.
Categories: crossing the yamuna