“After thus instructing the prostitute about the process of chanting the Hare Krishna mantra, Haridasa Thakura stood up and left, continuously chanting ‘Hari, Hari.’” (Chaitanya Charitamrita, Antya 3.138)
एत बलि’ तारे ‘नाम’ उपदेश करि’
उठिया चलिला ठाकुर बलि’ ‘हरि’ ‘हरि’
eta bali’ tāre ‘nāma’ upadeśa kari’
uṭhiyā calilā ṭhākura bali’ ‘hari’ ‘hari’
“Within the presentation of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada with regards to spiritual life, there is repeated reference to what is called the science of self-realization. There might even be a published book with the same title, which carries a collection of the swami’s interviews and essays.
“I guess the term is rather self-explanatory, no pun intended. Sanatana-dharma is for understanding the individual. The individual is the self. It is necessary to identify the self because no one really knows who they are.
“Think about the dog, for instance. The dog has no idea that it is a dog. It has no idea what it is, in fact. It just lives life. It follows instincts. Eating, sleeping, mating, and defending. The same applies for other species.
“The human being is different. We have these recognized distinctions, based on elapsing time. At one moment I am a child. Then an adolescent. I expect to become an adult and then later reach old age.
“Since these always change, what is my fixed identity? That would be the self. That constant factor. That animating force. That essence of living. The self is therefore important.
“I have a question about an associated term. You hear that one of the many benefits of self-realization is being satisfied in the self. There is a corresponding Sanskrit word: atmarama. This description appropriately applies to the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
“He is in need of nothing. He is never lacking. He is always complete, purna. You could say He is the complete consciousness, purna chaitanya. This atmarama property can descend to the servants of Narayana. But what exactly does it mean? How can a person be satisfied in the self? What does that look like? What are the benefits?”
Though governments around the world change leadership periodically and though they have different styles of governing, one constant factor seems to be general dissatisfaction amongst the population. They are not happy with the leaders. They eagerly anticipate the next election, if there is one, in order to implement turnover.
To meet the demands of the population, there are candidates for office. They promise one thing after another. They will stop the corruption. Their administration will have transparency. They will be honest with the people. They vow to be responsible with the funds collected through taxes.
What ends up happening? What is the reality to the situation? After these candidates get elected, they eventually turn the other way. The power goes to their head. They get paid off by the special interests. They lie, cheat, and steal. They pass legislation to favor certain businesses. This is a risk-free proposition, because even if they lose the election the next time around, they can simply go to work for the businesses they helped. They might end up increasing their net worth five or ten times from having spent only a few years in office.
In another example, we have a person who is envious of one of their friends. The friend has many followers on social media. The friend posts pictures and videos in various poses and activities. This person decides to start their own social media channel, to rival what their friend has.
To get started, there is the purchase of a camera. There has to be matching outfits for different occasions. After a while, the lighting doesn’t seem right in the home. No problem, just purchase an external lighting source.
The pictures turn out okay, but a little editing can really bump up the quality. The social media influencer now needs a desktop computer, with the proper software installed. Of course, clothes are one thing, but appearance can also be shaped by diet and exercise.
In this way, there is one dependency after another. The same person can barely recognize their life at home as compared to one year prior. There are so many factors that must cooperate, and all of that to bring the tiniest of satisfaction, to last only fleeting moments.
The person who is atmarama has no such dependencies. Since they are satisfied in the self, they can thrive in practically any situation. They see the self as linked to the Supreme Self. Since the Supreme is Absolute, He can be reached in any situation. The image kept within the mind is as viable as the image from a personal meeting.
There is the example of Haridasa Thakura. He was so renounced that he could stay in a remote area and find full satisfaction from simply chanting the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
A villainous character once sent a prostitute to break the standard of Haridasa, to cause him to fall down. The ploy would work on someone who is not satisfied in the self. If there are needs for sense satisfaction, prestige in society, or dependence on others for comfort, then there is vulnerability to falling for such enticements.
रस-वर्जं रसो ऽप्य् अस्य
परं दृष्ट्वा निवर्तते
rasa-varjaṁ raso ‘py asya
paraṁ dṛṣṭvā nivartate
“The embodied soul may be restricted from sense enjoyment, though the taste for sense objects remains. But, ceasing such engagements by experiencing a higher taste, he is fixed in consciousness.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.59)
Haridasa was set in a higher standard of life. He saw things in a different way. This is described as param drishtva by Shri Krishna in Bhagavad-gita. The influence of that saintly person was so profound that it was the prostitute who eventually fell down. She could not maintain her occupation. She left the degradation of prostitution and took shelter of the way of self-realization.
For evil the prostitute sent,
Towards ashrama of Haridasa went.
Attempt for standard breaking,
And pleased the envious making.
But it was she who eventually fell,
When saintly potency could tell.
Hari’s name powerful delivery to make,
The self-satisfied impossible to shake.