Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Bhajana Rahasya: Grace and the Moral Law

tad astu me nātha sa bhūri-bhāgo
bhave’tra vānyatra tu vā tiraścām
yenāham eko’pi bhavaj-janānāṁ
bhūtvā niṣeve tava pāda-pallavam

O my Lord, please bestow this great fortune on me, that I may live amongst Your intimate devotees and serve Your lotus feet, either here in this life as Brahma or somewhere else in a different body, even if it be that of some lowly creature like that of a bird or beast. (Srimad Bhagavatam 10.14.30)

Expanded translation: Lord Brahma prays for service to Krishna, knowing that such service can only come through His mercy: O Lord! O fulfiller of all desires! It seems to everyone that I am very fortunate, for I have attained the supreme position in this universe as its creator. Even so, I do not consider this to be my greatest good fortune. Though I am Your oldest son in this life, it does not matter in which species I am born, as long as I can have the chance to most perfectly serve any one of Your devotees, for it is through service to them that I will attain Your mercy—even if they are just new devotees merely beginning their practice. (Sanatan Goswami)

The Bhajana Rahasya continues with more reminders of the laws of material nature:

tasyaiva hetoḥ prayateta kovido
na labhyate yad bhramatām upary adhaḥ
tal labhyate duḥkhavad anyataḥ sukhaṁ
kālena sarvatra gabhīra-raṁhasā

For this reason, a clever person should seek out that which cannot be found from one extremity of this material universe to the other. Whatever happiness is found here is automatically obtained in the same way that distress is—by the force of time, whose workings are inscrutable. (Srimad Bhagavatam 1.5.18)

Expanded translation: Vyasa: “The scriptures prescribe sacrifices and other ritual activities as well as the performance of prescribed duties in order to reach the heavnely planets where one can enjoy sense pleasures. Yet you advise us to ignore all this and simply engage in devotional service to Krishna without calculating the cost.”

Narada, “Yes, this is true. For the intelligent person is not deceived by the statements in the scriptures. Those who are clever know that devotion to Krishna is not obtained like sense enjoyment, which exists in some form in every species from the lowest all the way up to Brahma himself. Happiness, like distress, comes to everyone as a result of their past actions.

As it is stated, “Distress comes to us even when we do not ask for it. The same is true for happiness. Therefore I consider Fate to be the most important element in the experience of happiness or unhappiness.” (Vishwanath)

Bhaktivinode Thakur—

vinā yatne duḥkhera ghaṭanā jena haya
sei rūpe kāla krame sukhera udaya
ataeva caudda-loke durlabha je dhana
sei bhakti janya yatna kare budha-gaṇa

In life, we are sometimes inflicted with distress, even though we make no effort to have it. Similarly, happiness also arises in due course of time, whether or not we seek it. Therefore we should look for the one prize that is hardest to find within the fourteen planes of material existence—the truly intelligent seek out devotional service to the Lord.

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