Is Hari-Katha For Knowledge Or For Pleasure

[Krishna and Arjuna]“O King, as I repeatedly recall this wondrous and holy dialogue between Krishna and Arjuna, I take pleasure, being thrilled at every moment.” (Sanjaya, Bhagavad-gita, 18.76)

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राजन् संस्मृत्य संस्मृत्य
संवादम् इमम् अद्भुतम्
केशवार्जुनयोः पुण्यं
हृष्यामि च मुहुर् मुहुः

rājan saṁsmṛtya saṁsmṛtya
saṁvādam imam adbhutam
keśavārjunayoḥ puṇyaṁ
hṛṣyāmi ca muhur muhuḥ

“You know those forms they make you fill out at a port of entry, when you are entering a foreign country? We know about the customs department. They want their cut of any profits you are making. They want to make sure you are not trying to circumvent their tariff restrictions.

“Before you can think about bringing goods into the country, you have to be allowed in. The people in charge might ask you the purpose of your trip. Is it business or pleasure? Why are you there? Is it to conduct work? Or do you want to tour various destinations? Are you there to meet family, such as in attending a wedding?

“That experience comes to mind when thinking of the importance of Hari-katha. These are discourses or talks about the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is known as Hari. In ages past, these discourses would be just that, people talking. One leader on an elevated seat, speaking to an attentive audience.

“The passage of time introduced additional forms. The same discourses can be written down. If you read Vedic literature, and especially the many Puranas, these come across as transcripts of various conversations. Between important individuals, there is question and answer, but also a narrative aspect.

“For instance, if you read the wonderful Ramacharitamanasa, there are three primary narrators throughout the work. Maybe narrators is not the best word. It is like three separate conversations are taking place, and within that dialogue you receive transcendental wisdom and historical information.

“What is the ultimate purpose? Are we reading for knowledge or for pleasure? You might say it doesn’t matter, but I would beg to differ. If we only want knowledge, then it means at some point you have to leave the material behind. No one revisits their college textbooks after graduating, as an example.

“If we are reading for pleasure, how do you convince someone who takes no pleasure from the material? Can they be made to relish the transcendental topics? It would appear that taking pleasure in the works is another way to pass the time in transcendence, as well.”

Do we have friends? Do we have family? Do we enjoy spending time with them? What does that interaction involve? There is likely give and take. Back and forth. Question and answer. Depending on the juxtaposition, it might be the senior person doing most of the talking. We simply listen.

Still, the experience is enjoyable. We are with someone we like. We intentionally seek out their association. When we are apart, we miss them. There is pain from separation. This is at the heart of the tragedy involving death. We have permanently been separated from someone we otherwise would like to have around.

At the highest levels of understanding, Hari-katha is like spending time with the Supreme Lord and His close associates. We may not get to interact directly, in the typical fashion, but even that is not entirely true. The Supreme Lord provides guidance from within, through His role as chaitya-guru.

तेषाम् एवानुकम्पार्थम्
अहम् अज्ञान-जं तमः
नाशयाम्य् आत्म-भाव-स्थो
ज्ञान-दीपेन भास्वता

teṣām evānukampārtham
aham ajñāna-jaṁ tamaḥ
nāśayāmy ātma-bhāva-stho
jñāna-dīpena bhāsvatā

“Out of compassion for them, I, dwelling in their hearts, destroy with the shining lamp of knowledge the darkness born of ignorance.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 10.11)

[Prabhupada]He also gives guidance from without, through sending the bona fide representative. This person is known as the spiritual master. In Bhagavad-gita, we have God in the special case of guiding externally, but directly. Krishna is both the spiritual master and the full representation of the chaitya-guru.

The guidance extends beyond the limits of the conversation. Krishna is always the well-wisher to Arjuna. Krishna is always guiding the devotee along the proper path. Even if Krishna is not close-by, there is actually no difference in association. This is one way to understand yoga.

To hear Hari-katha is to associate with Krishna. It may be attempted without knowledge. It may be instituted as part of a daily routine. It may be taken up reluctantly, at the urging of a friend or family member. There will always be a transfer of knowledge. That knowledge is desperately needed, especially in a land where everyone is born into delusion.

इच्छाद्वेषसमुत्थेन द्वन्द्वमोहेन भारत।
सर्वभूतानि संमोहं सर्गे यान्ति परन्तप।।

icchādveṣasamutthena dvandvamohena bhārata।
sarvabhūtāni saṃmohaṃ sarge yānti parantapa।।

“O scion of Bharata [Arjuna], O conquerer of the foe, all living entities are born into delusion, overcome by the dualities of desire and hate.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.27)

[Krishna and Arjuna]The knowledge is important, but hopefully that knowledge will convince us to continue to associate. The more we rise in our understanding of the world around us, our place in it, and the relationship God has to everything, the more we will come to appreciate the source of such knowledge, who is Hari.

In Closing:

Told that important to hear,
For doubts and issues to clear.

That something important to come,
Eventually wise to become.

But enjoyable especially for me,
Like Supreme directly to see.

Relishing the entire time,
The same nowhere else to find.



Categories: questions

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1 reply

  1. Radhe Radhe ❣️ oshriRadhekrishnaBole ❣️ Hare Ram Hare Ram Ram Ram Hare Hare
    Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
    Jay Jay Shree Siya Ram

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