The Hammer - 7
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The Hammer For Smashing Illusion

Shankaracharya's famous "Bhaja Govinda"

By Hansadutta das

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Text 7

In boyhood one is attached to play, in youth one is attached to young women, in old age one is attached to worrying, but no one is attached to the Supreme Absolute Truth.

"I Got So Much Time on My Hands," But It's Ticking Away, Ticking Away

Even as a young boy Shankaracharya was a brilliant scholar. He was so renounced that at the age of nine he left home to take sannyasa. Of course this was very disheartening for his mother, who was all alone. At first she begged him not to go. After some time he agreed to stay, because she was so heartbroken. But one day he happened to be bathing, and a crocodile caught hold of him. He began to shout for help, and his mother came there. She was a helpless old woman. She really couldn't do anything. So Shripada Shankaracharya said, "Mother, please give me permission to take sannyasa. Then, I think, the crocodile will let me go, if the Lord desires it." She agreed, and immediately the crocodile released him. In this way he came to take sannyasa. Thereafter, as a young boy, he traveled the length and breadth of India and established his mission. The point is that he was a young boy, but unlike ordinary boys of his age, he was not interested to play and waste time in frivolous activities.

Another example is Narada Muni. He was also a five-year-old boy under the care of his mother. He had no father, and his mother was the maidservant of some devotees. But one day his mother was fatally bitten by a snake, and the boy was left alone. Since the Vaishnavas had also left that place, Narada Muni took it as a blessing and instead of lamenting and crying, as most boys his age would do, he took the opportunity to travel all over the world. In this way, he learned to become completely dependent upon the mercy of the Lord.

Yet another example of an extraordinary child is Prahlada Maharaja, the son of Hiranyakashipu, a powerful demonic personality who ruled the entire universe in by-gone ages. Naturally, Prahlada, like all boys, was sent to school to be educated. One day Hiranyakashipu took his son Prahlada on his lap and very affectionately inquired from him:

My dear son, please let me know what you think is the best of all the subjects you have studied from your teachers. ( Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.5.4)

The father thought that his son would give him some childish reply, but instead Prahlada Maharaja replied:

O best of the demons, as far as I have learned from my spiritual master, any person who has accepted a temporary body and temporary household life is certainly embarrassed by anxieties because of having fallen in a dark well where there is no water but only suffering. One should give up this position and go to the forest. More clearly, one should go to Vrindavana, where only Krishna consciousness is prevalent, and should thus take shelter of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. ( Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.5.5)

These instructions are very grave, sober and enlightening. But Prahlada Maharaja's father was a demon. He became very angry, chastised the boy and sent him back to school to be trained in materialistic subjects such as politics, economics and material sciences. The point is: ordinarily, boys are not at all attached to studying the philosophy of Krishna consciousness. They are attached to playing with toys, games and friends. Prahlada Maharaja also said that bhagavata-dharma (Krishna consciousness) should begin from the age of five. When Prahlada Maharaja was sent back to school, he began to teach the other children Krishna consciousness. However, the children objected. They said, "But Prahlada! We are only five years old. We can study this later, when we grow up. Now, let us play and enjoy." But Prahlada said, "No. Bhagavata-dharma (Krishna consciousness) should be studied and practiced from the age of five." Kaumara acharet prajño. Kaumara means from childhood, or from the age of five. Krishna consciousness should be studied and practiced from early childhood.

Cure the Procrastination Disease

Everyone thinks, "When we are grown-up, when we are older, we then can practice spiritual life. Now, let us have a good time." When we are youths, we think of enjoying with the opposite sex. We have no time to study bhagavata-dharma. We are under the grip of sense gratification, especially sex enjoyment. But in old age, we are full of anxiety and lamentation. Old men are completely distressed because they have failed to fulfill their plans for sense gratification, and in that condition, they also cannot fix their minds on Krishna consciousness.

Shripada Shankaracharya, seeing this situation in human society, is very unhappy. The devotees of the Lord are never unhappy on their own personal account, because they actually are liberated from material entanglement. They are enlightened in Krishna consciousness, so they have nothing to be sorry about. Their future is very bright because they are going home, back to Godhead, after this bodily term of existence comes to an end. But the devotees of the Lord are unhappy when they see the unfortunate situation of the general mass of people who, in ignorance, are entangled in sense gratificatory activities. Thus, a devotee makes all kinds of arrangements for enlightening the conditioned souls about the Absolute Truth. Otherwise, a devotee has nothing to do in this material world because for a devotee there is nothing to enjoy, and there is nothing to be sorry about. His only attraction is Vishnu. Therefore, as long as a devotee is in this world he will be engaged in preaching Krishna consciousness.

"Nobody is Dearer to Me than You"

There are two kinds of devotees: bhajana-anandis and gosthi-anandis. The bhajana-anandi is concerned just with his own perfection or salvation. He retires to the forest or holy place and spends his time chanting and studying shastra. In this way he remains aloof from the general mass of people and concentrates on his bhajana (chanting).

Another kind of devotee, having retired from the world, situates himself in Krishna consciousness. He sees the suffering of the conditioned souls, and he comes back to the world to teach the conditioned souls Krishna consciousness. He takes a chance on behalf of the Lord to broadcast the message of Krishna far and wide. He is known as a gosthi-anandi and is on a higher platform because he knows the real interest of the Lord. As Krishna says in Bhagavad-gita (18.68-69): "That person who delivers this divine discourse between Me and you to the devotees, O Arjuna, I consider to be most dear to Me in this world. Never will there be one more dear to Me than he."

The Lord Himself descends from time to time to protect the pious, annihilate the miscreants, and re-establish the principles of religion. Sometimes Krishna comes as Lord Chaitanya, sometimes as Rama, Varaha or Buddha. There are so many incarnations and representatives of the Lord who descend to this material world just to reclaim the fallen conditioned souls by establishing religious principles. Dharmam tu sakshad-bhagavat-pranitam (Srimad-Bhagavatam 6.3.19)

Are You Willing to Sacrifice?

Religion is not the creation of ordinary men. Religion means the orders given by God. The purpose of human civilization is to abide by the codes of religion and in this way purify our existence, rectify our sinful life and prepare ourselves to go home, back to Godhead for an eternal life of knowledge and bliss.

We find scarcely anyone who is interested in real religion. If someone is religious, it is generally for improving his material standard of life. No one knows the real purport of religion.

na te viduh svartha-gatim hi vishnum
(Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.5.31)
No one knows that to satisfy Vishnu is really the only responsibility or duty of a human being. One's occupational duties are considered perfect when one has satisfied Vishnu. One should never act for sense gratification. Everything should be done as a sacrifice for Vishnu.
yajñarthat karmano 'nyatraloko' yam karma-bandhanah(Bhagavad-gita 3.9)
In Bhagavad-gita, Krishna advises Arjuna:
Work, as a sacrifice for Vishnu, should be performed. Otherwise, work binds one to this material world. Therefore, you should always perform your prescribed duty of fighting, and at the same time, think of Me. In this way you will remain unattached and free from bondage. (Bhagavad-gita 3.9)

To work is unavoidable, but if we work for our sense gratification, we shall only prolong our material existence. Our work should be performed only for the satisfaction of Vishnu, and that will purify us.

Because we are all devotees of Krishna--whether we are boys or girls, youths or old men--we should all follow this scripture. Do not waste time playing like ordinary boys and girls. Young men should not waste their time chasing after young women. And those who are old should not worry; rather, older people should be determined to become perfect by giving up their household responsibilities to their grown-up children and accepting sannyasa, using their last years of life to become completely detached from material life. There is nothing to lament about. These are the instructions of text seven. Hare Krishna.

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Hansadutta das
Rittvik Representative of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

©2004 - Hansadutta das
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