“There are an infinite number of living beings, both moving and nonmoving, who have many different abodes, with some residing in the earth, some in the sky, and some in the water. But O helpless Tulsi, for you Shri Rama’s holy name is your only home.” (Dohavali, 37)
जल थल नभ गति अमित अति अग जग जीव अनेक |
तुलसी तो से दीन कहँ राम नाम गति एक ||
jala thala nabha gati amita ati aga jaga jīva aneka |
tulasī to se dīna kaham̐ rāma nāma gati eka ||
“With respect to the afterlife, I think people generally fall into one of two categories. This is purely based on my speculation, determined through observation of society around me. I obviously could be wrong, but at least hear me out.
“The first category is easy to see. These are the atheists, as you would describe them. I’m not sure that is the best term to use, but we will go with it here. These people are afraid of dying. They don’t want to leave everything behind. They are so attached to the material world that they can’t imagine being separated. They will do everything they can to prolong life for as long as possible.
“I can’t blame them. Who hasn’t been frightened at the prospect of forced separation? Leaving behind friends and family. Travelling to the unknown. Sure, we don’t remember where we were prior to this birth. The timeline of existence spans billions of years and more. What were we doing all that time? Never mind; just focus on the present.
“Then you have the opposite group. Let’s call them the believers. They are content knowing that they will go to heaven. They strive for reaching this destination. They have professed faith to a certain book and institution. They may even meet the attendance requirements. Once a week, sitting in a room. Maybe paying attention to the speaker, maybe not.
“When I review the behavior of the saints of the Vaishnava tradition, it seems to me they are not concerned with the afterlife, at all. That is a strange claim to make, considering the tradition has the strongest intellectual backing anyone could imagine. It is truly a philosophy; not a blind faith.
“What is the best explanation for the difference in attitude? Some of them openly decry the idea of ascending to heaven. They want nothing to do with svarga-loka. How could they have such confidence in the unknown future?”
It is because they understand the almost limitless potential in the circumstances of birth. In the air. On land. Within the sea. As a large elephant or a tiny ant. As the son of a respected member of society or the unwanted child resulting from uncontrolled passion mixed with intoxication.
As space is infinite, so it is impossible to accurately get a handle on time. Both backwards and forwards, there is never a finishing point. If I don’t remember my many past births, why should I be so focused on where I will end up in the immediately succeeding one?
बहूनि मे व्यतीतानि
जन्मानि तव चार्जुन
तान्य् अहं वेद सर्वाणि
न त्वं वेत्थ परन्तप
bahūni me vyatītāni
janmāni tava cārjuna
tāny ahaṁ veda sarvāṇi
na tvaṁ vettha parantapa
“The Blessed Lord said: Many, many births both you and I have passed. I can remember all of them, but you cannot, O subduer of the enemy!” (Bhagavad-gita, 4.5)
More importantly, these saints have already created a permanent home. Not in the physical sense, but in consciousness, which is not destroyed. This means that my home will not be subject to the onslaught of time. The circumstances of the world can change to the point of Mahadeva destroying everything, but this home will not be touched.
Goswami Tulsidas describes that home as the holy name. He lives in the house of devotion that is the name of Shri Rama. This is an incarnation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Detail to the abstract. Identification of the man otherwise behind a curtain. A clearer picture, identifiable through transcendental features, saguna.
They encourage me to create the same home. Live in it always. Take comfort from it. Maintain it through steady practice. Be not afraid of the end, since that link in consciousness, yoga, will not be broken: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Even if all alone,
My permanent home.
That no one else can attack,
Supreme Lord having my back.
Since chanting His holy name,
Creating abode to His the same.
Then over future not caring,
Since positively faring.