The Futility of Everything Besides Devotion

[1.5.16]

Only the learned can understand the great one beyond infinity, who is beyond the grasp of those who have no true self-concept and follow the path of material pleasures. Therefore you must clarify the activities of that Great One.

A particularly difficult subject requires a tutor. The name, form and activities of the All-Attractive Godhead are very difficult for a common person to appreciate correctly because they are beyond infinity (ananta-pārasya). Therefore Nārada encourages Vyāsa to become a tutor on this subject, for humanity.

Vyāsa may be doubtful, “How can I explain such a difficult subject? And what if people cannot grasp it properly and it causes them to prematurely abandon the other important principles of morality?Would this not be counterproductive?”

Nārada replies…

[17]

If one stumbles by prematurely abandoning one’s own duties to cultivate devotion to the lotus-like feet of Hari – what is inauspicious about that? If one sticks to one’s own duties but has no such devotion – what is the worth in that?

 [18]

The wise would therefore endeavor only for that aim – which is beyond anything they could find from the bottom of the universe to the top. They do not strive for pleasures, because one gains pleasure just as easily as displeasure: via the subtle workings of destiny, resulting from previous actions.

We do not have to strive for displeasure or pleasure. Both automatically come and go as a result of our being held responsible for the countless selfish actions we have performed in the past. We do, however, have to strive for divine love. Vyāsa’s efforts up till now did not reflect this truth. Nārada suggests that he must correct this mistake, by composing Śrīmad Bhāgavatam.

Nārada’s logic is that nothing is truly gained by striving for ordinary pleasures, and nothing can truly be lost by striving for divine love. Therefore Vyāsa should promote divine love more directly and clearly. Vyāsa may doubt, “You say that nothing is lost even by failure on the path of divine love. However I have practically seen and heard of what appears to be failures on that path.”

Nārada replies that such an opinion is superficial…

[19]

The striving devotee of the Lotus-Face may somehow remember his materialistic ways, but will never ever become like others. A person who tasted the mellow of embracing the feet of the Lotus-Face will never be able to give up the addictive desire for it.

This is quite practical.. A devotee who is still striving will of course remember his or her previous addictions and habits from time to time, and therefore may sometimes appear distracted from divine loving service. However, the taste of the sublime joy of divine love is so highly addictive that it cannot be removed from the heart even when one attempts to temporarily pursue other aims. Therefore one on the path of devotion always returns relatively soon to that path even when they sometimes stumble and divert their attention from it.

Lotus-Face is a name for the All-Attractive, “Mukunda” whose face is softer, more beautiful and attractive than any flower.

About Vraja Kishor


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