“This age of Kali is not at all suitable for self-realization as was Satya-yuga, the golden age, or Treta- or Dvapara-yugas, the silver and copper ages. For self-realization, the people in Satya-yuga, living a lifetime of a hundred thousand years, were able to perform prolonged meditation. And in Treta-yuga, when the duration of life was ten thousand years, self-realization was attained by performance of great sacrifice. And in the Dvapara-yuga, when the duration of life was one thousand years, self-realization was attained by worship of the Lord.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 1.1.21 Purport)
Friend1: You know, recently I was reading about the series of events that led to the advent of Shri Ramachandra, the avatara of Vishnu.
Friend2: From which work? Is this about the different causes, like Narada cursing Hari or Pratapabhanu making the mistake in trusting an old rival in the forest?
Friend1: This is from the Ramayana. I am talking about Dasharatha’s yajna.
Friend2: Oh, I see.
Friend1: The description is in great detail. No expense was spared. The chance meeting between that ruler of Ayodhya and the brahmana named Rishya-shringa. There was so much history for each person. I guess that is true whenever you speak of people meeting.
Friend2: Think of a marriage. The groom has his own past. The bride may have grown up in a different country. Differences in age. Yet somehow the world decides that they should meet. Higher forces at play.
Friend1: That is a great way to compare. What struck me here is the meticulousness. Everything had to be done properly. There was the head priest, Vashishtha, and also the officiating priest, the ritvik. Pronounce the mantra properly. Give in charity to the brahmanas.
Friend2: In great abundance. Cows and gold.
Friend1: The horse is involved. A certain way that it gets sacrificed. Then the chief queen, Kausalya, has to spend a night with it. I mean you couldn’t make this stuff up.
Friend2: Sure. In the Treta-yuga, the second age of the creation when dividing in terms of the greater timeline, yajna is the preferred way towards self-realization.
Friend1: In the preceding age it is meditation, dhyana. Afterwards, deity worship.
Friend2: Archana. For Dvapara-yuga, the period in which the same Rama appears but as the all-attractive Krishna, who belongs to the Vrishni dynasty.
Friend1: I got to thinking. Don’t we have it so easy, by comparison?
Friend2: Easy in what sense?
Friend1: There is no way we could come close to replicating Dasharatha’s sacrifice. That is what led to Rama’s appearance. That is how the king finally received a beloved son, someone to whom the kingdom would be passed.
Friend2: Those kinds of yajna are neither practical nor possible today.
Friend1: And if you read the history of saintly people, it is full of struggle. Tapasya. Austerity and penance. Friends and family turning against them. Compare that to today, where we get upset over the outcome to a reality television program. Our suffering is not having live sports on television to watch.
Friend2: Though the pain is exactly the same. We may think it is unfounded, in comparison, but the effect is no different.
Friend1: In having it easy, I mean in terms of our path towards self-realization. In this age of Kali, there is no other way except saying the name of Hari.
Friend1: Why do we get off so easy? Why don’t we have to struggle? Doesn’t it seem unfair to you?
Friend2: Well, despite the process being easy, how many people do you see signing up? Who is actually chanting these names?
Friend1: Hardly anyone.
Friend2: Then? Be thankful that there is the opportunity, that somehow you have been made aware. Do not spoil the chance. No need to feel guilty. The people before us have paved the way. They did the heavy-lifting, so to speak. They are more than happy to see countless people rescued as a result. When a king builds a bridge, even the ants are easily able to cross over. Let us find the shelter of the Divine, sharanagati, and never look back.
With raging river crossing we can’t,
But after bridge then even the ant.
So others before me paving the way,
That now only holy names to say.
Straightforward the process should be,
But how many participating see.
Blessing particularly for this time,
More impetus to fall in line.