“All purposes that are served by the small pond can at once be served by the great reservoirs of water. Similarly, all the purposes of the Vedas can be served to one who knows the purpose behind them.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.46)
यावानर्थ उदपाने सर्वतः सम्प्लुतोदके ।
तावान्सर्वेषु वेदेषु ब्राह्मणस्य विजानतः ॥
yāvān artha uda-pāne
tāvān sarveṣu vedeṣu
“I will not mention the simplicity of the recommendation to simply ‘chant more rounds.’ I will not criticize and compare to other faiths, where they recommend people pray on difficult issues. It sure seems like a way out of giving better advice, an escape for not knowing the answer to the question.
“Today, I want to discuss the issue of missing out. Someone might have their specific rituals that they have followed since birth. It is a tradition within the family. At such and such time of the year, they gather paraphernalia, sit down in front of the altar space within the home, and chant specific mantras.
“They make their offerings, and the purpose is certainly material. They want something good to happen, and ‘good’ here refers to positive in the case of an event of temporary significance. Such rituals have taken place since time immemorial.
“The reason it becomes an issue is that when a person takes up bhakti-yoga, they learn that everything is included in worshiping the Supreme Lord directly. There is no reason to follow this ritual or that. At the highest levels of bhakti, there are no material desires.
“This is well and good, but don’t you think it is a little impractical? If a person has attachment to their rituals or worshipable figure of choice, why abandon everything? Why not maintain that allegiance for as long as necessary? Otherwise, they would lose faith in the process. It is like they are being forced to devote themselves to something their heart might not be in to.”
To help explain the concept, we can use the example of the government passing reforms to the tax code. It is a major overhaul. The differences are striking and significant. The aspects changing haven’t been touched for decades.
One of the major changes is a larger standard deduction. This is the amount that comes off the top. Whatever the total income you had for the year, remove a certain amount immediately. The tax rates then apply against that new, reduced total.
As part of the reforms, certain other deductions go away. For instance, those supplies you purchased for the office can no longer be deducted. You are quite upset about the change. You raise an objection or two. You are ready to curse at the government officials. One of the reasons you purchased so many supplies every year was because you could take the deduction on your taxes.
When you raise the issue with your accountant, they laugh at you. This is because the larger standard deduction dwarfs the amount you were spending on office supplies. In essence, you are saving way more on taxes than you previously were. To be concerned over the loss of that single deduction does not make sense.
In the same way, a person who knows the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Shri Krishna, essentially knows everything. The comparison is to the larger body of water. Whatever purposes that small, local pond served, the larger body of water will take care of. You are not missing out. One hundred dollars automatically includes ten dollars.
This is one of the appeals of bhakti-yoga. It also explains the disparity in terms of popularity. In the material world, there will always be favoritism towards the smaller, itemized deductions. It is illogical, but then the entire reason for birth in the material world is based on the fallacy that the individual can accurately compete with God.
We lose the smaller purposes by abandoning the rituals and worship we previously followed for temporary gains, but finding the Supreme Lord is like having the entire universe at our disposal. We can travel to any place, at any time, using just the consciousness. In that sense, there is no actual loss.
We realize the connection everything has to the Almighty, who is the original source. This makes both favorable and unfavorable identical in nature. High and low, hot and cold, young and old – in every circumstance of duality we remain conscious of the all-attractive one, which gives the ultimate victory to living.
To specific ritual dedicated,
For blessings to be educated.
Or of obstacles clear,
A process near and dear.
But if entire purpose knowing,
Then the same with bhakti going.
Since Supreme Lord origin is He,
Source of expanding tree.