“As the director of different kinds of clouds, Indra called for the samvartaka. This cloud is invited when there is a need to devastate the whole cosmic manifestation. The samvartaka was ordered by Indra to go over Vrindavana and inundate the whole area with an extensive flood. Demonically, Indra thought himself to be the all-powerful supreme personality.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 25)
In every situation, ask the question, “What would God want me to do?” In other words, what is the proper course of action? It is not so easy to decipher. Arjuna was standing in the middle of a battlefield, with soldiers surrounding him. Some on his side, some not. The hostilities had not yet commenced, and even in this moment he was unsure.
It would be like preparing to attend school in the morning. Waking up, following proper routine in hygiene, eating, and then getting on the bus. At the last moment, steps away from entering the building, you are unsure of what to do. Maybe sitting in the classroom the entire day is not the best decision.
Fortunately for Arjuna, the Supreme Lord was adjacent to him, seated in the chariot. Krishna was steering the vehicle, in fact. To resolve Arjuna’s doubts, Bhagavan took the position of guru, which is not unfamiliar to Him. He is the original spiritual master of this world.
In the subsequent explanation, presented through a question and answer session, we learn so many things about life and death. We get greater clarity on the heavenly region. We see that pious activities, following dharma in the general sense, lead to birth in heaven in the afterlife.
In that region is found enhanced enjoyment, and for that there are many sources.
This intoxicating beverage receives direct mention in Bhagavad-gita. Someone living in the heavenly region can drink soma-rasa for many years. It is supposedly superior in taste to anything on earth.
यदन्तरं सिंहशृगालयोर्वने यदन्तरं स्यन्दिनिका समुद्रयोः।
सुराग्र्य सौवीरकयोर्यदन्तरं तदन्तरं वै तव राघवस्य च।।
यदन्तरं काञ्चनसीसलोहयोर्यदन्तरं चन्दनवारिपङ्कयोः।
यदन्तरं हस्तिबिडालयोर्वने तदन्तरं दाशरथेस्तवैव च।।
यदन्तरं वायसवैनतेययोर्यदन्तरं मद्गुमयूरयोरपि।
यदन्तरं सारसगृध्रयोर्वने तदन्तरं दाशरथेस्तवैव च।।
तस्मिन्सहस्राक्षसमप्रभावे रामे स्थिते कार्मुकबाणपाणौ।
हृतापि तेहं न जरां गमिष्ये वज्रं यथा मक्षिकयावगीर्णम्।।
yadantaraṃ siṃhaśṛgālayorvane yadantaraṃ syandinikā samudrayoḥ।
surāgrya sauvīrakayoryadantaraṃ tadantaraṃ vai tava rāghavasya ca।।
yadantaraṃ kāñcanasīsalohayoryadantaraṃ candanavāripaṅkayoḥ।
yadantaraṃ hastibiḍālayorvane tadantaraṃ dāśarathestavaiva ca।।
yadantaraṃ vāyasavainateyayoryadantaraṃ madgumayūrayorapi।
yadantaraṃ sārasagṛdhrayorvane tadantaraṃ dāśarathestavaiva ca।।
tasminsahasrākṣasamaprabhāve rāme sthite kārmukabāṇapāṇau।
hṛtāpi tehaṃ na jarāṃ gamiṣye vajraṃ yathā makṣikayāvagīrṇam।।
“The difference between the son of Dasharatha [Rama] and yourself is like the difference between a lion and a jackal of the forest, a sea and a brook, and fine wine and Sauviraka [a sour, fermented wheat drink]. The difference between the son of Dasharatha and yourself is like the difference between gold and a base metal, sandalwood water and mud, and an elephant and a cat in the forest. The difference between the son of Dasharatha and yourself is like the difference between Garuda [son of Vinata and king of birds] and a crow, a peacock and a diver bird, and a swan and a vulture [flesh-eating bird]. Even if you steal me away, Rama, standing against you in battle with His bow and arrows, having prowess equal to that of Lord Indra, will make sure that you will not live very long, like a mosquito that has swallowed ghee.” (Sita Devi speaking to Ravana, Valmiki Ramayana, Aranya Kand, 47.45-48)
Sita Devi, the wife of Shri Rama, one time used the highest quality adult beverage as a way to compare Rama to Ravana. In other words, God is like the most expensive liquor, if a person wants to go in that direction for comparison. A lowly person such as Ravana, a man-eating Rakshasa, is like a cheap fermented drink known as sauviraka.
This means that intoxicating beverages are an indication of higher living, at least in the material estimation. If you have soma-rasa in the heavenly region, it is like nectar. You will not miss anything that you had experienced previously.
This is a wish-fulfilling cow. Sometimes they are found on earth, such as with Vashishta described in the Ramayana. That sage possessed a cow named Shabala, who was so kind upon him that it provided for every need.
An ordinary cow already has the magic touch in being able to sustain human life through its byproducts. It requires little in return; some basic protection and a field provided by nature. The return on investment is tremendous, both economically and spiritually.
In the heavenly region, such cows are plentiful. You can approach one and ask for practically anything. The desire will be fulfilled immediately. This is something we could only dream of on earth.
Keeping with the theme, this is a wish-fulfilling tree. A tree is known by its branches and what grow on there. Imagine if every leave represented a different kind of enjoyment. Gifts of nature. A kalpataru could actually produce money, if that’s what was requested.
राम नाम सुमिरत सुजस भाजन भए कुजाति |
कुतरूक सुरपुर राजमग लहत भुवन बिख्याति ||
rāma nāma sumirata sujasa bhājana bhae kujāti |
kutarūka surapura rājamaga lahata bhuvana bikhyāti ||
“By remembering Shri Rama’s holy name, even those who are born into a low caste become worthy of fame, just as the wild trees that line the streets in the heavenly realm are famous throughout the three worlds.” (Dohavali, 16)
Goswami Tulsidas uses the presence of desire-trees in heaven to explain how a devotee’s classification by birth is not significant. In the heavenly region, even the smallest, odd-looking trees that line the streets are famous. This is because they are still kalpataru, whether tall or short. In the same way, even someone of a low birth can become worthy of fame, if they chant the holy name of Rama.
These sources of enjoyment just begin to scratch the surface of life in svarga-loka. If compared to a hotel, the place would be extended-stay. Enjoy the finest wine, with wish-fulfilling trees and cows everywhere, and remain in that place for a long time.
With so much going on, it is puzzling to see the intense envy of Indra after the first Govardhana Puja. He is the king of heaven; that is what his name means. He should be enjoying the most. He has, in fact, many attendants to serve his every need.
Why, then, should he care what happens on earth, especially in an insignificant rural region that is Vrindavana? The spark for the attention was the intentionally passed over yajna in Indra’s honor. This sacrifice was ready to get going, but a young child by the name of Krishna nixed the idea. He convinced everyone to worship Govardhana Hill instead.
While the residents of heaven take from kalpatarus, Govardhana Hill gives to the cows. For this reason that plot of land is dear to Krishna, who inaugurates the worship of that hill, to be performed annually thereafter.
Indra becomes so focused on that worship that he decides lethal punishment is the only proper remedy. Revenge. Wipe everyone away. This means that even with countless desire trees, heaven is not so great. It must be lacking something significant, something found in Krishna’s association. That hill was lifted by that child of Nanda, thus saving the people from Indra’s wrath, in the same way that steady devotion to Krishna protects against the dangers of life in any region, be it heaven, hell, or earth.
In whichever realm to land,
Krishna in same pose to stand.
That protection to devotees giving,
Who only for His pleasure living.
Whereas in heaven distracted,
Wishes here and there extracted.
Not actual pleasure to feel,
With devotion something real.
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