“After many births and deaths, he who is actually in knowledge surrenders unto Me, knowing Me to be the cause of all causes and all that is. Such a great soul is very rare.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.19)
बहूनां जन्मनाम् अन्ते
ज्ञानवान् मां प्रपद्यते
वासुदेवः सर्वम् इति
स महात्मा सु-दुर्लभः
bahūnāṁ janmanām ante
jñānavān māṁ prapadyate
vāsudevaḥ sarvam iti
sa mahātmā su-durlabhaḥ
“I do particularly like the Vedic aphorism that describes the urgent need for making an inquiry into spiritual matters. As a human being, learn about Brahman. Ask about that which lasts beyond the temporary world. More than just this single lifetime, but spanning the beginning to end of creation itself.
“What exactly is spirit? Where does religion fall into the picture? The human birth is a gift; not a sentence. It is auspicious, not a way to punish. We did not have the same opportunity in other births, which had their variety but a notable commonality.
“Namely, there was a lack of potential in intelligence. Today we have the chance to understand spirit and the source of it. What a blessing. I concur with the assessment of the acharyas that we should not spoil a single second. As soon as we become aware of the need for transcendence, go for it.
“At the same time, we cannot deny that there are both handicaps and assets associated with birth. Just because I have the potential for maximizing intelligence does not mean there will be fulfillment. One person is born with a silver spoon in their mouth; another with nothing to their name. There is the saying that an empty sack cannot stand up straight.
“His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada says that no one listens to a poor man. These sayings highlight the actual difficulty so many face. We are not even touching upon the subject of a sinful birth, papa-yoni. Some people are more prone towards material life than others.
“In the face of the disparities, how does athato brahma-jijnasa still apply? Why are we stressing spiritual life to people who may never develop an interest for it? It may not even be their fault; the limitation is based on the way they are born.”
In Bhagavad-gita, Shri Krishna confirms that a person only knows Him in truth after many births. To find a being perfect in knowledge in consciousness is rare. At the same time, a single sun lights up the entire universe. One object gives heat to people living across the globe, in different time zones, with different weather.
There may not be many holders of doctoral degrees in a particular field of science, but the teaching does not cease. The degree is still there to be awarded. The teachers are still standing by, ready to enlighten students.
In the same way, the acharyas hope that every person reaches their full potential in understanding the Almighty. Even a little progress is worth it, as it can protect against the greatest type of fear.
प्रत्यवायो न विद्यते
स्व्-अल्पम् अप्य् अस्य धर्मस्य
त्रायते महतो भयात्
pratyavāyo na vidyate
sv-alpam apy asya dharmasya
trāyate mahato bhayāt
“In this endeavor there is no loss or diminution, and a little advancement on this path can protect one from the most dangerous type of fear.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.40)
Whereas on the other side the progress gets erased at the time of death, washed away by the current of the ocean of time, which is undefeated. Any effort to purify the consciousness, even if ultimately unsuccessful, carries a lasting benefit into the future.
There may be severe handicaps associated with birth. My entire family is against me. They scoff at the idea of showing compassion to innocent animals. They are appalled at my lack of interest in acquiring money and enjoying the senses. They think my bowing before a qualified and featured depiction of the Supreme Lord is akin to worship of the devil.
तस्मात् त्वम् उत्तिष्ठ यशो लभस्व
जित्वा शत्रून् भुङ्क्ष्व राज्यं समृद्धम्
मयैवैते निहताः पूर्वम् एव
निमित्त-मात्रं भव सव्य-साचिन्
tasmāt tvam uttiṣṭha yaśo labhasva
jitvā śatrūn bhuṅkṣva rājyaṁ samṛddham
mayaivaite nihatāḥ pūrvam eva
nimitta-mātraṁ bhava savya-sācin
“Therefore get up and prepare to fight. After conquering your enemies you will enjoy a flourishing kingdom. They are already put to death by My arrangement, and you, O Savyasachin, can be but an instrument in the fight.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 11.33)
I can succeed in the face of every obstacle in the same way that another person may fail despite everyone around them giving encouragement. Shri Krishna looks for sincerity and genuineness of purpose. He is the ultimate deciding factor in success, as even the great bow-warrior named Arjuna was but an instrument in the hands of the Divine during the Bharata War.
To whichever circumstances came,
Still with objective the same.
That into spiritual inquire,
For something lasting desire.
Whether succeeding or not,
This opportunity got.
Superior choosing this way,
Krishna with ultimate say.