The Hammer - 22
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© 2004 - Hansadutta das

The Hammer For Smashing Illusion

Shankaracharya's famous "Bhaja Govinda"


By Hansadutta das
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Text 22

Wearing clothes made from tattered rags found lying in the street, a yogi treads the path which goes beyond piety and impiety. Because his mind is absorbed in thoughts of the Supreme, he appears to be enjoying exactly like a child or a madman.

"Unless You Become Like Children . . ."

In this connection Shukadeva Goswami says:

When there are ample earthly flats to lie on, what is the necessity of cots and beds? When one can use his own arms, what is the necessity of a pillow? When one can use the palms of his hands, what is the necessity of varieties of utensils? When there is ample covering or the skins of trees, what is the necessity of clothing?

Are there no torn clothes lying on the common road? Do the trees, which exist for maintaining others, no longer give alms in charity? Do the rivers, being dried up, no longer supply water to the thirsty? Are the caves of the mountains now closed, or above all, does the Almighty Lord not protect the fully surrendered souls? Why, then, do the learned sages go to flatter those who are intoxicated by hard-earned wealth? (Srimad-Bhagavatam 2.2.4-5)

Thus being fixed, one must render service unto the Supersoul situated in one's own heart by His omnipotency. Because He is the Almighty Personality of Godhead, eternal and unlimited, He is the ultimate goal of life, and by worshipping Him, one can end the cause of the conditioned state of existence. (Srimad-Bhagavatam 2.2.6)

In these verses, the necessity of worshipping the Supreme Personality of Godhead is being stressed. In order to be able to worship the Supreme Personality of Godhead while in the conditioned state, we have to learn how to minimize our material activities. Material activities are those activities which are aimed at maintaining the temporary material body. The four material activities are eating, sleeping, defending and sex indulgence. Although everyone is required to eat, sleep, mate and defend himself, still it is advised that one should minimize his energy and intelligence in this direction. We should be satisfied with what we get by the grace of God and be satisfied with that which comes of its own accord.

Don't Eat Too Much, Don't Eat Too Little

Formerly, the sadhus, rishis, sages and yogis simply sat down to practice meditation and depend on the mercy of the Lord for their food, shelter, clothing and whatever necessities there are for the maintenance of this body. They would not even go to beg. They were completely fixed and expected that the Supreme Lord, knowing their situation full well, would make the necessary arrangements to meet their material demands. Unless we adopt this course of action, we will not have any time for practicing spiritual life. We will not have any time to render devotional service. We only have so much energy, and we shall either use it to take care of this temporary material body, or we shall have to sacrifice material comforts and engage our time in serving Vishnu.

In Bhagavad-gita Krishna says, "Yoga is not for one who eats too much or eats too little, sleeps too much or does not sleep enough." (Bhagavad-gita 6.16 ) We have to eat something, sleep and so forth. So it is recommended that one should eat half of what he thinks he can eat. One should fill half his stomach with food, one quarter with water and the rest with air. If we think we can eat three plates, we should eat one or one and a half. Similarly, it is recommended that as far as sleeping is concerned, one should sleep in the temple of the Lord and one should sleep only the bare minimum. Five or six hours is sufficient. One should rise early in the morning, one and a half hours before the sun rises. That is called the brahma-muhurta hour and is a time which is very beneficial for spiritual practices. Everything becomes more intensified at that time. We must take rest at a timely hour so that we can rise early, take bath, then attend mangala-arati, chant japa, hear Srimad-Bhagavatam, take prasadam and perform our devotional service. In this way, we have to minimize our material activities to the bare necessity, just enough to keep body and soul together. Without practicing a life of austerity, penance, renunciation and knowledge, no one can make any progress in spiritual life.

Busy Decorating a Dead Body

In these three verses of the Srimad-Bhagavatam, Shukadeva Goswami is pointing out what is the necessity of beds if one can lie on the floor? If one has his own arms to lie on, why should we spend money to buy pillows? Those who are in the bodily concept of life are very serious about dressing themselves very fashionably with expensive clothing, jewelry, lipstick, hair cream and purchasing expensive beds for sleeping. In so many ways they waste their valuable time and energy just decorating a dead body.

The body is actually just a lump of flesh, bones, blood, urine and stool. It actually has no life at any time. Only as long as the soul is in touch with this body is it animated and apparently alive, although it is always dead. The inherent ugliness of this body is revealed as soon as the soul leaves it; then it immediately becomes repulsive to us, and we want to dispose of it as soon as possible. The material body is never beautiful, but it is the soul within the body that gives it an appearance of beauty. The beauty is not in the body; it is in the soul, which is pervading that body temporarily. As soon as the soul leaves the body, we immediately dispose of the dead material body. Then Shukadeva says:

For this reason, the enlightened person should endeavor only for the minimum necessities of life while in the world of names. He should be intelligently fixed and never endeavor for unwanted things, being competent to perceive practically that all such endeavors are merely hard labor for nothing. (Srimad-Bhagavatam 2.2.3)

The World of Names

The material world is described here as "the world of names." Everything has a particular name--microphone, table, telephone, lamp and so on. In fact, everything is nothing but a combination of atoms. Therefore nothing actually has any permanent existence or reality. It is just external or apparent, but not actual. The real substance is the living spirit soul, which gives shape to inert dead matter. Knowing this, we should not unnecessarily endeavor for false things just to achieve some temporary prestige in this mundane existence. We should minimize all our material endeavors to the bare necessity and endeavor for self-realisation. Hare Krishna.

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Hansadutta das
Rittvik Representative of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Trustee, BHAKTIVEDANTA BOOK TRUST
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