“Shrimati Kunti Devi has prayed to the Lord just to enunciate a fragment of His glories. All His devotees worship Him in that way, by chosen words, and therefore the Lord is known as Uttamashloka. No amount of chosen words is sufficient to enumerate the Lord’s glory, and yet He is satisfied by such prayers as the father is satisfied even by the broken linguistic attempts of the growing child.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 1.8.44 Purport)
The Supreme Personality of Godhead has the most important message to deliver. The target audience is every living entity, since He is the original seed-giving father. This extends to every type of being, as the animating spark inside, the spirit soul, is identical, regardless of the species.
मूर्तयः सम्भवन्ति याः
तासां ब्रह्म महद् योनिर्
अहं बीज-प्रदः पिता
mūrtayaḥ sambhavanti yāḥ
tāsāṁ brahma mahad yonir
ahaṁ bīja-pradaḥ pitā
“It should be understood that all species of life, O son of Kunti, are made possible by birth in this material nature, and that I am the seed-giving father.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 14.4)
The message is relevant to the three time periods: past, present and future. These are unique to each individual. For instance, my grandfather lived prior to my appearance in this world, in the current iteration. His past, present and future were all in the past for me, whereas for my children and grandchildren, everything will be the future as it relates to me.
Based on the standing of the teacher, Bhagavan, who is the adi-guru, the message to be delivered is the most important. In this regard there are different approaches one can take, to speak the truth to someone who is in desperate need of hearing it.
1. Yell at you
I could start screaming. Make the most impact, using volume as a way to grab attention. Others might also take notice, even if I am not speaking to them directly. It is assumed that the tone of voice is linearly related to the importance of the message.
I will force the truth into you. It will be difficult to ignore me while I am yelling at you. Your feelings might get hurt. You might run away in fear. At least I will get the message across.
2. Call you names
Another approach is to belittle you. Call you every name in the book. Really make an impact based on intended offense. Who prefers to be compared to an animal, to an unintelligent person, to a dishonest person or one who has no regard for the feelings of others?
I can go through different derogatory terms until I find one that hits the mark. That one word you would never want associated with you. The names used will be intentional; that is to say after referring to you in a negative sense, I will explain what the positive is. The truth, the message delivered, is to call for a change. Learn the truth, accept it, and live by it; otherwise you will remain whatever stigma I have tagged you with.
3. List your past mistakes
The parents have a particular advantage in this area. If they wanted to get the truth across to their children, they can dip into the memory bank of mistakes. Even if the children think they are perfect, there at least was a time when they were in diapers. They didn’t know how to do anything; they relied on the parents for everything.
The Supreme Lord has the highest advantage in this regard, since He remembers the infinite past. He explains to Arjuna in Bhagavad-gita that both of them have appeared in the world before, but the distinction is that Krishna remembers those births, whereas Arjuna does not.
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)
Therefore, God can recall every time that we messed up. If we are obstinate in defiance, refusing to hear the message, He has the opportunity to bring up our past transgressions, highlighting how we are not perfect and indeed require instruction to correct harmful behavior.
4. Speak in a palatable way
As mentioned above, the reception does matter. While the teacher could castigate the prospective students as being unworthy of the truth, that does not help things. My children eventually have to learn to read and write; it is to their benefit. If they have difficulty in these subjects during youth, as the parent I have the responsibility to try new ways to help them learn.
In the same way, the Supreme Lord is so kind that He delivers the most important message in a palatable manner. It can be sweeter than we ever thought possible; hence His name of Uttamashloka. This Sanskrit word says that God is described in the choicest poetry.
The best composers string words together that can be easily sung and memorized. This explains how devotional culture was promulgated during ancient times, when there was no written word. Simply by hearing a series of verses a single time, an expert poet could remember and pass on the information.
सत्यवादी मधुरवाग्देवो वाचस्पतिर्यथा।
रूपवान्सुभग श्रीमान् कन्दर्प इव मूर्तिमान्।।
satyavādī madhuravāgdevo vācaspatiryathā।
rūpavānsubhaga śrīmān kandarpa iva mūrtimān।।
“He speaks the truth, has a sweetness of voice like the Lord of speech, possesses a handsome form, is highly fortunate, is resplendent in everything, and is like Cupid incarnate.” (Hanuman speaking to Sita Devi, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 34.30)
Shri Hanuman reveals that God has a sweetness of voice that resembles the lord of speech. As the Supreme Lord is the origin of everything, this makes sense. His words matter, and the people who are in audible range benefit.
We are so fortunate to have the original sounds passed down to us, through the generations via the parampara system. We can connect directly with God through His vani, as found in works like Bhagavad-gita and Shrimad Bhagavatam. He is directly revealing the truth to us, which we so desperately require. That message can turn fortunes around, inspiring us to new heights in achievement, culminating in eternal living.
Different ways to teach,
For message properly to reach.
Yelling one approach,
Upon ego to encroach.
Or vile names to call,
Past transgressions to recall.
God speech pleasing to ear,
Uttamashloka the best to hear.
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