“When your personal and supreme interests can be easily obtained from one place, it is not sensible for you in weakness to beg at the doors of others, O Tulsi.” (Dohavali, 54)
स्वारथ परमारथ सकल सुलभ एक ही ओर |
द्वार दूसरे दीनता उचित न तुलसी तोर ||
svāratha paramāratha sakala sulabha eka hī ora |
dvāra dūsare dīnatā ucita na tulasī tora ||
“I have seen references from Vedic literature explaining how svartha and paramartha essentially merge. Though they are two separate and distinct terms, I believe when the ultimate objective is pleasing the Supreme Personality of Godhead Vishnu, then svartha is met simultaneously.
“Can you explain exactly how that works? I would think svartha aligns more with trivial issues. How is worshiping God going to get me a new car, for instance? Will chanting the holy names fix the leaky roof? Will reading Vedic literature part the clouds and welcome in the bright sunshine on a given day?”
1. Satisfying the taste buds
“I am sick of eating the same thing, day after day. Let’s go to a nice restaurant today. Or maybe we can order delivery from that new place that opened up around the corner. I am in the mood for something extra salty.”
2. Dealing with extreme heat
“This year we have to finally make the sacrifice. Let’s install central air conditioning in the home. I am sick of hauling up these heavy window units and trying to position them properly. We need to modernize our home.”
3. Searching for a life partner
“I have put this off for too long. I am falling behind the others. It feels like I am still a child, though well into adult years. It is time to settle down. I didn’t want to have to specifically search, but I guess there is no other choice.”
4. Finding the best school for the children
“It seems like a drastic move, to uproot the family and shift elsewhere. The reason is the school system. The rules are such at the current location that my child cannot even attend. They have not been sufficiently injected with the poisons of the pharmaceutical mafia.
“Through friends, I know of better school districts. They are far away, so we will have to move. The parents sacrifice their comfort, but in the long run this will benefit the child tremendously.”
5. Upgrading the internet connection at home
“It just cuts out periodically, throughout the day. It is annoying trying to watch an online video and have it buffer. It is really ridiculous. I might as well pay the extra fee to get the faster and more stable connection.”
Goswami Tulsidas explains that there is no reason to go begging at the doors of others. This is for meeting the essentials of life, referring particularly to the sannyasa ashrama. This is retirement with relinquishing everything that has been saved up.
In the typical retirement, there is the bank balance to rely upon. Instead of working and earning a regular paycheck, the interest from the money saved up should be enough to pay for expenses of daily living.
Sannyasa is giving everything up and turning into a beggar. This is a voluntary transition; no one is applying force. In the common scenario, the sannyasi goes from home to home to ask for a little bit of food or drink. They don’t stock up for the next day. If no one answers the door, there is nothing they can do. They must starve until the next day, when they will try again.
Eating is a short-term interest, but Tulsidas explains that if a person focuses on paramartha, they will not have to worry about bare essentials. The short-term interest, svartha, will automatically be taken care of. Prahlada Maharaja confirms by saying that the short-term interest of the individual lies within the destination of Vishnu.
Does this mean that by worshiping God I will get a new car? Will every little issue automatically be taken care of? There are two perspectives for understanding. One is that satisfying svartha will help with paramartha. If my ultimate objective is creating and maintaining a life of devotion, then every component piece merges into transcendence.
गतसङ्गस्य मुक्तस्य ज्ञानावस्थितचेतसः ।
यज्ञायाचरतः कर्म समग्रं प्रविलीयते ॥
“The work of a man who is unattached to the modes of material nature and who is fully situated in transcendental knowledge merges entirely into transcendence.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.23)
We can use the simple example of a person training for a race. Though the competition takes place within a specific window of time, the preparation can span many months. Everything the participant does during that time, as part of their training, links to the end-goal. Their sleeping on time and eating with attention to detail are as important as the exercise on the day of the race.
The same applies with devotion to Vishnu. Every aspect to the daily routine, though giving the appearance of svartha, merges into paramartha. This is like Arjuna’s releasing arrows on the battlefield and Hanuman’s leaping across Lanka with a burning tail.
The second perspective is that satisfying paramartha through Vishnu changes the nature of svartha. Only those things which are important will be sought after. The intention and attention essentially get purified. Svartha will be met, but only that for which provides long-term and lasting benefit.
The principle falls under the umbrella of the Supreme Lord’s oversight and guidance. He promises to deliver from all sinful reaction, to fill whatever potential gaps might emerge through abandoning varieties of dharma. His shelter is the ultimate objective, and so service to Him is the highest dharma.
Both simultaneously met,
Not worried about what to get.
Since focused on the Supreme One,
Destination by devotion won.
Svartha elevated into transcendental plane,
With paramartha of nature same.
Because focused on Vishnu’s attention,
Result based on intention.
Categories: the five