“Lord Brahma said: O son of Kashyapa Muni, please get up, please get up. All good fortune unto you. You are now perfect in the performance of your austerities, and therefore I may give you a benediction. You may now ask from me whatever you desire, and I shall try to fulfill your wish.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 7.3.17)
उत्तिष्ठोत्तिष्ठ भद्रं ते
तपः-सिद्धो ’सि काश्यप
वरदो ’हम् अनुप्राप्तो
व्रियताम् ईप्सितो वरः
uttiṣṭhottiṣṭha bhadraṁ te
tapaḥ-siddho ’si kāśyapa
varado ’ham anuprāpto
vriyatām īpsito varaḥ
1. How do you intend to use these knives?
“These are the best on the market. Think I am bluffing? Watch me cut through this empty soda can. Why would someone want to do that? Don’t worry about the why; just see the sharpness. Chopping vegetables will be a breeze. You will save so much time in the kitchen.
“By the way, you do intend to follow the law, right? I hope you will not use these knives for illegal purposes. Just how often do you think you will be pulling them out of the drawer? How many other people live in the house, who might come in contact with these? Please fill out this form; it is to comply with safety regulations.”
2. What use did you get out of those sneakers?
“Hello, sorry to bother you. I am calling from the online shoe store. I was hoping you had some time to give feedback on your recent purchase. How do you like those sneakers? Did our online measurement guide provide the proper fit? Was everything included in the shipping package? Is this your first purchase with us?
“If you don’t mind my asking, what exactly did you use the sneakers for? Are you an athlete? Are you training for a marathon? There wasn’t any illegal activity, I presume. I hope you aren’t on the radar of any crime-stopping agency within the federal government.”
3. With whom will you communicate on this new phone?
“Some bad news for you. We cannot repair this battery. It is basically dead. You can get maybe one hour of use, but then the phone will automatically power down. The model is so old that we no longer manufacture the replacement batteries.
“For some good news, since you have been a loyal customer we can get you upgraded to a newer model for a significant discount. It has all the latest features; you will love it. Just one thing before we proceed. How exactly are you going to use this phone? Do you intend to communicate with friends and family? Will the camera only be used for legal purposes? Which political party did you support in the most recent election?”
4. What kind of information will you publish on this computer?
“Yes, we can include additional RAM on this purchase. I see you have chosen the SSD option for the hard-drive. Great choice. The battery life is tremendous. The screen size is the largest we have available. You are going to love this notebook computer.
“Just one thing before we proceed. What is the intended use for this device? Do you plan on publishing information online? Will you be using the included word processing software? Will you be printing any materials to be distributed to the public? If so, do you agree to not publish anything that would be deemed hateful, especially by a politician sitting on an important committee in Congress?”
5. What will be recorded on this new camera?
“People think that the camera business has died because of the rise of smartphones, but actually we are doing okay. The professionals know that a standalone device delivers superior performance. Many people like the versions that are made for live-action, where you can strap it on your shoulder while exercising or travelling down a mountain while on a snowboard.
“Real quick, you will not use this camera for illegal activity, correct? You don’t intend to film important public officials in secret. You will not expose their wrongdoing through the assistance of this camera. I know these seem like odd questions, but we have to fill out our forms in order to process the order. I hope you understand.”
As crazy as the world seems, including in the terrible direction it is headed, a customer typically does not hear these kinds of questions. These are business transactions, after all. One person has a good or service to sell. The other person has the requisite payment, and then an exchange takes place.
The interactions with demigods, which are described in Vedic literature and still take place even today, are practically identical. Though you are approaching a person of prominence, who is important enough to reside in the heavenly region, there is no concern on the personal side.
We see that Hiranyakashipu, the Daitya leader, did not care for Lord Brahma. The intense austerity and penance was for getting the attention of the creator, but that had nothing to do with a knowledge transfer or any meaningful interaction.
Hiranyakashipu wanted boons. Brahma could offer them. The payment, in this case austerity, was sufficient. The customer had saved up enough money to meet the price tag. Brahma did not ask further questions. Whatever was in stock was available for purchase.
The interaction with the real God, the Supreme Lord, is different. He is not obliged to sell anything to anyone. For this reason many people avoid His association. On the other hand, the devotees seek His shelter precisely because of the kind of person He is.
Vishnu has my best interests at heart. He always has and He always will. Devotion to Him meets my self-interest, svartha, even if I don’t see it that way. Vishnu is known as Hari, since sometimes He takes away what I consider dear. He puts me into difficulty so that I will better remember Him, and for that kindness I can never properly repay Him.
Demigod not future considering,
Proper worship then delivering.
Vishnu watching out for me,
Who clearly cannot see.
Since snake for rope mistaking,
This life as only one taking.
Oversight like parent giving,
His pleasure my reason for living.
Categories: the five