Five Stations Of Life From Which To Achieve The Highest Goal

[Shri Krishna]“I wish that all those calamities would happen again and again so that we could see You again and again, for seeing You means that we will no longer see repeated births and deaths.” (Queen Kunti speaking to Lord Krishna, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 1.8.25)

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विपदः सन्तु ताः शश्वत्
तत्र तत्र जगद्-गुरो
भवतो दर्शनं यत् स्याद्
अपुनर् भव-दर्शनम्

vipadaḥ santu tāḥ śaśvat
tatra tatra jagad-guro
bhavato darśanaṁ yat syād
apunar bhava-darśanam

1. Unmarried

The four Kumaras are brahmacharis for life. They perpetually follow the vow of celibacy. They are able to best serve the Supreme Personality of Godhead through this choice.

2. Married

Queen Kunti worships God directly in His avatara of Shri Krishna. Kunti Devi’s prayers are wonderful in the sense that she asks nothing in return for her worship. She even goes as far as to pray for difficulties to return, for when there is adversity there is always remembrance of the great well-wisher to her family.

3. Gainfully employed

[boatman taking Sita-Rama-Lakshmana]In the lila of Shri Rama, there is the interaction with the boatman. This person has a simple occupation. It would not normally stand out, but his devotion ends up attracting God. Rama asks to be taken across a distance upon that boat, and the person at the helm is able to provide valuable service at a much needed time.

4. Childhood

It is said that Maharaja Parikshit used to worship the Supreme Lord while as a child. There is also the famous example of Prahlada Maharaja. Though the child is a dependent of the parents and caretakers, they still can carve out an area all their own, a kind of playing field to dedicate thoughts and prayers to the one who is always close by.

यो मां पश्यति सर्वत्र
सर्वं च मयि पश्यति
तस्याहं न प्रणश्यामि
स च मे न प्रणश्यति

yo māṁ paśyati sarvatra
sarvaṁ ca mayi paśyati
tasyāhaṁ na praṇaśyāmi
sa ca me na praṇaśyati

“For one who sees Me everywhere and sees everything in Me, I am never lost, nor is he ever lost to Me.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 6.30)

5. A renounced mendicant

The acharyas within the Vaishnava tradition are typically worshiped within this stage of life. This is likely when they became prominent in their efforts to serve in the mood of choice. Without being hindered by attachments and daily responsibilities, they were able to compose beautiful poetry, write books, give lectures, travel from here to there, open temples, and accept disciples who would continue the culture moving forward.

His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada explains that a person can achieve perfection from any station in life. By adopting and practicing the principles of devotional service, the travel is essentially the same.

We can use the example of a person interested in personal fitness. While at home, they follow a standard routine of exercise and nutrition. They hit the gym on a regular basis, flowing through exercises in a series. They do the repetitions to target the different parts of the body, with regular intervals of rest.

It may so happen that the same person has to travel a great distance. Maybe to attend a wedding. Perhaps as part of a business conference. In the hotel at which they stay, there is no fitness facility. There is no opportunity to visit a gym.

This does not mean that the exercise routine has to be interrupted. Rather, there are ways to adapt to the situation. Similar exercises can be conducted in a bedroom, with a little creativity and ingenuity. This means that the march towards the goal continues, despite the change in circumstances.

In the same way, success in devotional service is not based on the station of life. This only makes sense, since there is no guarantee to progress through a standard flow. A person within student life must have the potential to achieve success. Otherwise, consciousness of God would be dependent on material evolution, and God is certainly above all the modes of nature.

त्रैगुण्यविषया वेदा निस्त्रैगुण्यो भवार्जुन ।
निर्द्वन्द्वो नित्यसत्त्वस्थो निर्योगक्षेम आत्मवान् ॥

trai-guṇya-viṣayā vedā
nistrai-guṇyo bhavārjuna
nirdvandvo nitya-sattva-stho
niryoga-kṣema ātmavān

“The Vedas mainly deal with the subject of the three modes of material nature. Rise above these modes, O Arjuna. Be transcendental to all of them. Be free from all dualities and from all anxieties for gain and safety, and be established in the Self.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.45)

[Shri Krishna]The recommendation is that we stick to the principles of devotional service in whatever circumstances we find at the present moment. There is the saying, bloom where you are planted. Not that we will artificially inhibit growth or needlessly torture ourselves in a perilous condition, but we should know that simply changing stations will not automatically carry a positive impact.

न च सीता त्वया हीना न चाहमपि राघव।
मुहूर्तमपि जीवावो जलान्मत्स्याविनोद्धृतौ।।

na ca sītā tvayā hīnā na cāhamapi rāghava।
muhūrtamapi jīvāvo jalānmatsyāvinoddhṛtau।।

“O Rama, You should know that just as fish cannot survive when taken out of water, neither Sita nor I can live without You for even a moment.” (Lakshmana speaking to Lord Rama, Valmiki Ramayana, Ayodhya Kand, 53.31)

There is the example of Sita Devi worshiping her husband, Shri Rama, within the forest. Whether near the mountains of Chitrakuta or roaming the abandoned fields of Dandaka, she continues in her dharma. The same for Lakshmana, who is Rama’s younger brother. They look to Rama as their everything, like the fish attached to the conditions of the water.

In Closing:

Attachment at the base,
Not after conditions to chase.

Changing from here to there,
Mattering how much aware.

Consciousness on Him fixed,
Whether alone or with others mixed.

Sometimes praying for difficulty to return,
Easier towards Hari to turn.

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