“While contemplating the objects of the senses, a person develops attachment for them, and from such attachment lust develops, and from lust anger arises.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.62)
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ध्यायतो विषयान्पुंसः सङ्गस्तेषूपजायते ।
सङ्गात्सञ्जायते कामः कामात्क्रोधोऽभिजायते ॥
dhyāyato viṣayān puṁsaḥ
saṅgāt sañjāyate kāmaḥ
kāmāt krodho ’bhijāyate
“It is with basically every person I encounter. This is in the case of an honest endeavor, where they actually read some of the source material. They opened up Bhagavad-gita As It Is. They read some verses from Bhagavata Purana. They are aware of the basics like the changing body, the three modes of nature, and the importance of consciousness.
“If not having read the book, then they might have heard someone discussing the same. They were in the audience during a Hari-katha session. Perhaps they had a conversation with a friend or well-wisher. Someone was urging them along, to open their minds to this other way of thinking, to which they had not previously been exposed.
“What I see every single time is appreciation. There is acknowledgment that Krishna consciousness represents something higher. It is transcendental. It brings every speculation together, into an arena of clarity. Even if we don’t assimilate the principles right away, we can at least respect the material that is being presented.
“Given this observation of mine, why is it not the dominant religion? They have these opinion surveys. They have their statistics. If you wanted to throw Hinduism into the mix, it lags far behind other formal, established systems of faith.
“Shouldn’t it be the other way around? Shouldn’t logic, reasoning, sound judgment, and beautifully articulated verses spoken in the most wonderful language of Sanskrit have the most influence over a population that is generally bewildered, short-lived, and unfortunate?”
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada explains that there appears to be a general decline in interest towards sentimental religions. He includes Hinduism in the list, as it is commonly practiced or understood today.
There is supporting evidence to the claim. The justification is that people have become hardened by material living. This is not difficult to understand. Hardened in the sense that there is one desire after another, with diminishing returns in terms of satisfaction.
As an example, life was much different a mere forty years ago. If I wasn’t sure what time the big game was starting on a particular night, I had to tune into the radio. Perhaps I would turn on the television and hope that one of the stations made an announcement.
On the other side, if I happened to miss the game, there was no easy way to learn the outcome. I would have to wait until the morning newspaper was published and distributed. If the game was on too late for the local area, only the late edition of the paper would have the score.
Given the massive shift in availability of information today, with increased speeds and almost unlimited sources, is mankind any happier? Are they more at peace? Have they become more enlightened, as a result?
The evidence points to the contrary. If I am accustomed to having every desire satisfied in an instant, then any disruption to the process will make me upset. I am accustomed to one-day shipping, instant access to a vast library of videos, food arriving at the door without making a phone call, and reaching someone by phone in an instant.
The more upset I become, the more hardened I am due to the conditions of living. In this inauspicious state, of what interest will religion be to me? Why would I want to follow some sentiment when I already have so many things to which I can be devoted? My sports teams. My movies. My television shows. My video games. My family. My pets.
Why do I need God? Especially if the only stated benefit is relief in the afterlife, of finding a better position after entering the unknown, why bother? I can make my own religion, if I wanted to have fun. I could create a new system of faith and persuade others to follow along, to be part of my clan.
Dharma is always dharma. The truth is always the truth. The principles of Bhagavad-gita apply across all periods of time and all conditions of living. Whether we are hardened by material living or not, we have the same ideal destiny. Whether our chosen spiritual life is dominant throughout the world or so obscure that only sadhus in remote caves have access to the knowledge, nature continues to operate.
I will have to suffer the effects of time. I will have to live through the changing bodies. I will have to deal with an unknown future, determined by the consciousness at the time of quitting the body. My sentiments will not be able to stop the process.
यं यं वापि स्मरन् भावं
त्यजत्य् अन्ते कलेवरम्
तं तम् एवैति कौन्तेय
yaṁ yaṁ vāpi smaran bhāvaṁ
tyajaty ante kalevaram
taṁ tam evaiti kaunteya
“Whatever state of being one remembers when he quits his body, that state he will attain without fail.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 8.6)
Fortunately, there are saintly people who try to save us. Even amidst the calamity, within the widespread disinterest, through the gradual descension into the grossest form of animal living, there are representatives of the Divine who carry the torch, who try to wake us up to the truth.
इति ते ज्ञानम् आख्यातं
गुह्याद् गुह्यतरं मया
यथेच्छसि तथा कुरु
iti te jñānam ākhyātaṁ
guhyād guhyataraṁ mayā
yathecchasi tathā kuru
“Thus I have explained to you the most confidential of all knowledge. Deliberate on this fully, and then do what you wish to do.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 18.63)
In the same manner as Krishna presented the timeless wisdom of yoga to Arjuna, these saintly people ask us to deliberate fully. They would rather we not follow based on sentiment alone. We will get more from the process if we understand on our own, independent of what those around us are doing.
There is every chance to understand. The science of yoga appeals to our intellect, which can never be separated from us. Just as the person formerly addicted to drugs and alcohol can become sober through rehabilitation, we can find the Divine way of living again, if we fall into the proper association.
Why man generally averse?
When from reading a single verse.
Enough knowledge profound,
Like secret to living found.
Wondering the entire time where,
Why not others made me aware?
Whether prominent or generally obscure,
Krishna consciousness the way for sure.
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