“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)
“In business dealings, if asking another party to make a large investment on your behalf, a risk, if you will, there is something known as collateral. Basically, it’s a way to indemnify the investors against a total loss.
“In a real estate transaction, for example, there is the property itself. I am asking the bank to loan me money to purchase a residence, and they can actually foreclose on the place if I don’t abide by the agreement in terms of timely payments and amounts. They also have the interest they charge on the loan. In other words, they make money on the deal. It is in their favor to help me.
“There is due diligence beforehand. They look at my credit report. A favorable rating equates to a lower interest rate, and vice versa. In an auto loan the collateral is the automobile. In a business loan, there might be something of value on the other side that serves as collateral in case the business totally fails.
“The reason I bring this up today is because genuine spiritual life seems like an investment to me. It certainly involves two parties. One side is generally asking for something; they are like a beggar. The other side is in the position to give; they are the donor.
“From within the Vaishnava tradition of spirituality, I always hear how easy the process is. Simply chant the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Remain conscious of God, who is ultimately a person. Always think of Him. Become His devotee.
“But is there no collateral? Why would something so valuable, in this case liberation from the cycle of birth and death, be so inexpensive? Why would it be given away so easily? Do you see the contradiction?”
While a daily exercise like rising early in the morning, offering a lamp to a picture, and sitting in meditation seems simple enough, who will actually follow through? To be free of the suffering of birth, old age, disease and death is the topmost priority for the rationally thinking adult, but who actually takes the steps necessary to meet the potential found only within the human species?
If there is any collateral in Krishna consciousness, it is the difficulty. The road will not be easy. There will be many tests. Sometimes, you can be in the very presence of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and face obstacles you never before conceived.
An example is Vasudeva, the loving father of Bhagavan’s avatara of Krishna. Vasudeva likely never found himself having to escape from a prison in the middle of the night. He never thought about picking locks and walking away in secret, without others noticing.
Then there was the stunt of crossing a raging river while holding an infant. How do you even practice such a thing? Who else, aside from rogues and thieves, ever faces such a problem? Now imagine coming upon these obstacles whilst wanting so desperately to succeed. In other words, Vasudeva did everything out of love for Krishna; he did not want the difficulty to set him back.
Despite the graduate-level tests, the birth-father came through. He brought baby Krishna to Gokula, as directed. He kept Krishna safe from the paranoid Kamsa, the king of Mathura. The eighth child arrived and would one day fulfill the prophecy spoken many years before. The voice in the sky had been telling the truth.
In a business transaction the failure to meet the obligations results in the loss of collateral, forfeiture. This is a tragic situation, one to be avoided at all costs. In bhakti-yoga, the collateral is there in terms of difficulty, but there is never a total loss accompanying failure.
मन्-मना भव मद्-भक्तो
मद्-याजी मां नमस्कुरु
माम् एवैष्यसि युक्त्वैवम्
man-manā bhava mad-bhakto
mad-yājī māṁ namaskuru
mām evaiṣyasi yuktvaivam
“Engage your mind always in thinking of Me, offer obeisances and worship Me. Being completely absorbed in Me, surely you will come to Me.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.34)
I may have missed the opportunity to fully purify the consciousness in this lifetime. I may have to suffer through birth and ignorance again. I may have to make the attempt at spiritual life in the future, but whatever progress I made the first time around remains. This is another reason Krishna’s mercy is all-encompassing and beyond belief. He is the ideal object of worship, now and forever into the future.
Always ideal savior for relief,
He of mercy beyond belief.
That even after failure relinquishing,
Time that progress not extinguishing.
Collateral perhaps in difficulty so,
Like Vasudeva across Yamuna to go.
But success because underneath supported,
Krishna’s assistance in ways assorted.