Attachments to material objects can hamper our spiritual life
A deer appears so enchanting to the eyes. The way it moves and runs and plays it is worth a watch for many. People keep on watching the dancing deer for hours together. In the previous ages, people used to keep deer as pets and enjoy their association. The stories of deer appear in the Srimad-Bhagavatam as well as Ramayana.
MOTHER SITA AND THE DEER
Mother Sita was apparently a victim of one illusory deer. Demon Marica disguised himself as a beautiful bright deer and purposefully started strolling around Sita’s hermitage. The deer playfully came near mother Sita and moved away. Sita was enchanted and she called for Rama and Laksmana to see the beautiful deer. As soon as Laksmana saw the deer, he became suspicious and he warned that that this animal was not a deer but a demon. However, Sita sent Rama to procure it and then dispatched Laksmana to help Rama. When Laksmana refused to leave her alone she even offended Him by alleging that he had some ulterior motives.
Worshipable mother Sita has taught us many lessons by this pastime, which depicts the systemic fall down of an illusioned soul. The soul gets deluded by maya. The literal meaning of maya is “that which is not”; like the deer that was actually not a deer but a demon. Laksmana is the form of Baladeva, the supreme spiritual master. The spiritual master warns us about these glaring sense objects, but we fail to follow due to our excessive attachment. We get so attached to attractive objects that we demand that the Supreme Lord fulfills our desire by granting them. In turn, we lose the association of the Supreme Lord and also lose the shelter of the spiritual master leaving us vulnerable to be abducted by Ravana, the personification of lust. Ultimately we land up in a barren place devoid of association of devotees. Just a small deviation from Rama and guru to a silly deer, and we are kidnapped. A little inattentiveness in devotional service can be fatal.
Bharata Maharaja renounced palaces of gold to execute devotional service with single pointed determination. He retired to the forest. One day he brought to his asrama a shelterless baby deer. But eventually he became so attached to the deer that he gave up his devotional service.
The supreme Lord, alone, is the shelter and maintainer of all living entities. But due to the spell of illusion we feel we are the maintainer of our dependents. We go one step ahead and consider them to be our property and get excessively attached to them. It was because of this attachment that Bharata Maharaja failed to ascend to the Lord’s abode in that lifetime. Why should the Lord open the doors of his home for us when we are still attached to our house and its residents? This does not mean we should visualize our near ones as objects of detachment. Rather we should be positively attached to them in the mood that they are Krsna’s property and Krsna is in control of their lives, having a perfect plan for them. We just have to remind each other of Krsna and His loving control in our life.
A deer also created havoc in the life of Dasaratha Maharaja. As Dasaratha Maharaja was on a hunting expedition, he heard the sound of splashing water. Thinking the sound was coming from a deer drinking water from a pond, the king shot an arrow. Unfortunately the victim of his arrow was not a deer, but a young man, Sravan Kumar, the only son of his blind parents. The grieving parents cursed Dasaratha Maharaja to die due to pangs of separation from his son. Years later when Lord Rama was exiled, Dasaratha Maharaja left his body, unable to bear separation from his son Lord Rama. Just imagine how by an illusion of the sound of the deer drinking water, a pious king suffered.
THE MUSK DEER
The musk deer has its own tragedy. It emanates a fragrance from the caudal part of its body. This creates so much fragrance that the deer tries to search for the source of the fragrance. It runs in all directions to find the point of eminence of the perfume. Ultimately, after excessive running, the deer dies of exhaustion.
The living entity, which is sac-cid-ananda in nature, also emanates the fragrance of happiness. But due to illusion, the living entity keeps on hunting for external happiness ignoring the internal fragrance of spiritual happiness. Ultimately the living entity dies in exhaustion in its futile search for external pleasures while failing to discover the inner treasure in the heart.
THE DEER AND THE HUNTER
It is very interesting to know how a hunter catches a deer. An expert hunter plays soothing music on his flute. The deer loves to hear nice sounds. As soon as it hears the nice music, it goes into an ecstatic trance and stands dumbfounded. The hunter easily catches the deer in this state of trance. The living entity also has a tendency to hear mundane sound vibrations. This sound vibration creates such a state of illusion that the living entity becomes foolishly oblivious to Yamaraja’s hunting and finally the death God appears to drag the sinful soul to the abode of suffering.
However, if the living entity carefully hears the holy name of the Lord, then the Lord, who is always hunting for devoted souls, plays His flute for the devotee. The sound of the flute captivates our hearts, uncovering the hidden musk of devotion in our being. Then the living entity gives up all attachments to all deer and utters, “My dear Lord, my sweet Lord, I really want to see You, I really want to be with You, I really want to serve You even if it is in the form of a deer in Goloka.”
Yugavatara Dasa is an associate professor in Anatomy in a medical college in Mumbai. He is a regular contributor to BTG.