What’s Your Angle

[Radha-Krishna]“O best among the Bharatas [Arjuna], four kinds of pious men render devotional service unto Me—the distressed, the desirer of wealth, the inquisitive, and he who is searching for knowledge of the Absolute.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.16)

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चतुर्-विधा भजन्ते मां
जनाः सुकृतिनो ऽर्जुन
आर्तो जिज्ञासुर् अर्थार्थी
ज्ञानी च भरतर्षभ

catur-vidhā bhajante māṁ
janāḥ sukṛtino ‘rjuna
ārto jijñāsur arthārthī
jñānī ca bharatarṣabha

“You know what it is that we do. How do we explain it to strangers? I am not talking about the external sense or the appearance. They can obviously figure that out for themselves. We read books. We chant mantras. We visit places of worship.

“We might have one in the corner of a room in the house. We light incense sticks and then wave them around. We cut up fresh flowers and place them on an offering plate. We might apply paste or powder to a sacred picture or statue.

“People can tell that there is worship going on. I am talking about the deeper meaning. What is our justification? What are we trying to get out of the process? People have this inherent understanding of self-interest, that everyone works in a way of dedication that ultimately returns to the individual. Sort of like a boomerang-effect.

“Is it that verse from Bhagavad-gita? You know, the one talking about the four kinds of people that render devotional service to Krishna. Is that why we are so dedicated? Is that why we put up with the trouble?

“We ultimately want something from God the person. We want our distresses to go away. We want wealth in order to alleviate financial woes. We are inquisitive or we want further knowledge of that which is beyond birth and death. Is that how we would explain the process to others? Tell them to turn to that page in the book.”

There is actually no perfect equivalent to justification in pure bhakti. It is simply impossible to explain to someone who is embodied, who views the world with the dualities rooted in “I” and “Mine.” In that mindset, there is always a personal interest.

One could perhaps compare to the selfless parent, who works hard day and night in order to support their children. Even in that case the comparison is not perfect. The parent might view the children as an extension of themselves. If the children do poorly, that reflects negatively on the parent. If the children do well, it is as if the parents have succeeded.

The interest is based on bodily relation. A wise person sees a limitation in the viewpoint. Why should only the children based on bodily relation be considered an extension? Why are not other children afforded the same interest? Why isn’t the child of my neighbor just as important to me as my own child? Why should we draw distinctions between friends and enemies, when everyone is in the same boat, so to speak?

स यदानुव्रतः पुंसां
पशु-बुद्धिर् विभिद्यते
अन्य एष तथान्यो ’हम्
इति भेद-गतासती

sa yadānuvrataḥ puṁsāṁ
paśu-buddhir vibhidyate
anya eṣa tathānyo ’ham
iti bheda-gatāsatī

“When the Supreme Personality of Godhead is pleased with the living entity because of his devotional service, one becomes a pandita and does not make distinctions between enemies, friends and himself. Intelligently, he then thinks, ‘Every one of us is an eternal servant of God, and therefore we are not different from one another.’” (Prahlada Maharaja, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 7.5.12)

[Prahlada Maharaja]Every person’s story is different, but the resulting dedication in bhakti-yoga, the steadfastness to the vow, dridha-vrata, is often due to gratefulness. The individual compares their devotional life to how they lived before. They remember just how miserable they were.

They view the worship as a way to give thanks. They forever appreciate what others have done for them. They consider saintly people to be the only true well-wishers, since they sacrificed everything in order that others may be rescued from the cycle of birth and death.

The devotee remembers the many struggles due to ignorance. They have an abundance of scars in the form of terrible memories. They never want to be that hopeless again. They know that the saintly people saved them. Those devotees covered every single wound through the gift of transcendental knowledge.

Those devotees gave the best example on how to live life. The affected individual then wants to repay the favor. They want to make it known that their friends did everything for them. They want to at least be able to show appreciation, in whatever way possible.

[Radha-Krishna]As the Supreme Personality of Godhead is in the heart of every living entity, the resulting worship in bhakti benefits the friends and well-wishers. Those people who helped me receive credit through the direct worship of God. My life becomes a symbol of sacrifice, but I could not do anything on my own. I was utterly incapable, but my friends lifted me up. For that favor, I will work as hard as I can, day and night, in order to honor their sacrifice.

In Closing:

Friend and enemy line to draw,
Judging based on merit and flaw.

But in devotion seeing not the division,
Freeing that transcendental vision.

Such that the best well-wisher to be,
One who symbol of sacrifice is he.

Everything now in that direction dedicated,
To show exactly how much appreciated.

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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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