“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
“What if I like the small pond? It is quiet. It is secluded. It is in a preferred place. No one bothers me there. It is familiar. I know how to get around. I am accustomed to the association. It might be small, but it gives me everything I need.
“The greater reservoirs of water frighten me. Too many people visit them on a daily basis. One mistake and you could be swept away. You will be stranded in the deep ocean. You will need someone to rescue you. The commotion keeps me away.
“It is something like the small local store leaving the area. Either it goes out of business or one of the larger conglomerates buys them out. In its place, we get the superstore. I realize that a lot of people love those, but the feel isn’t the same.
“Sure, you can get everything you want. There is a generous return policy. There might be additional perks, like a food court and automotive services. Nevertheless, some people were happier when the smaller stores were around.
“I bring this up as a response to the verse from Bhagavad-gita, where Shri Krishna explains that the purposes of a small pond can be fulfilled through the larger bodies of water. Alright, no one is going to disagree, but what about the people who prefer the small pond?”
The teaching is in relation to the three modes of nature and the many rituals passed forward in the Vedas, which are the original scriptural tradition of the world. The three modes of nature are goodness, passion, and ignorance.
Depending on how a person lives, they have particular desires. Someone in goodness might want something different than the person who lives in passion. There are corresponding rituals, sacrifices, and even objects of worship to account for the variety.
Since these modes still belong to the material nature, they are like small ponds in terms of interest. Approaching the larger body of water, which is self-realization and direct connection with the origin of everything, already accounts for the smaller interests.
पय अहार फल खाइ जपु राम नाम षट मास|
सकल सुमण्गल सिद्धि सब करतल तुलसीदास ||
paya ahāra phala khāi japu rāma nāma ṣaṭa māsa|
sakala sumaṇgala siddhi saba karatala tulasīdāsa ||
“Subsisting on fruits and milk, chant Shri Rama’s holy name for six months. Tulsidas says that by following this formula all auspiciousness and every perfection will arrive in the palm of your hand.” (Dohavali, 5)
There are other ways to describe the same truth. Goswami Tulsidas says that if you chant the name of Rama for six months, while subsisting on fruits and milk, every siddhi will arrive in the palm of your hand. Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu says something similar. These siddhis are perfections. They are like boons of a life dedicated to yoga in mysticism.
To have attachment to the other rituals is only natural. There might be a feeling of loyalty. There is familiarity in the process. In the extreme case, a person can maintain their allegiance, but still acknowledge the higher interest with the direct approach.
For instance, Lord Shiva is known as Ashutosha since he is easily pleased. His wife, Parvati, is the superintendent of the material world. She is like the head of the prison establishment. Their son, Ganesha, can remove obstacles along someone’s path.
If I am accustomed to worshiping them, I can still pray. I can ask for their favor in glorifying the Supreme Personality of Godhead. I can beg forgiveness for the shortcomings I have in my dedication. I can pray to them for strength, to successfully maneuver around the difficulties.
This is not necessary, since the Supreme Lord will already take control of the fate of the person surrendered to Him. Nevertheless, the sentimental attachment here to other rituals and worship can have a transcendental effect. Instead of keeping a person bound to the three modes of nature, due to the connection with the one who is above the three gunas, there is no harm.
Gopis to Katyayani praying,
For together with Krishna staying.
Saints to Ganesha to ask,
Obstacles to remove in task.
To Ashutosha for meditation long,
Like bow in Janaka’s contest strong.
That small pond with meaning to me,
Connection to Shri Hari to see.