Will the much awaited meeting with Lord ultimately turn sour due to boredom?
Many years back when I was very young in devotional service, one scholar! y looking person with a grey beard and big glasses came to our temple and raised one question: "All your endeavour, all your practice is meant to actually see God. You see Him; He sees you, then what? How long will you keep seeing each other? Must be boring eventually." And I was blank. I became a little fearful. Actually what will I do after seeing God?
In our common experience we find that union brings pleasure initially, bur as time passes it loses freshness and becomes monotonous. When two people meet, especially a young boy and girl, their meeting is exciting in the beginning. They are always scheming, 'How can I stay with her or him?' They are always trying to be in each other's company. There are lights, sparks, and blazing fires.
Time clicks. Relationships chip off. And the fire fizzles out. Now they scheme, 'How can I stay without her or him?' Similar words, but different attitude. Now togetherness suffocates and they make plans for avo iding each other. Union causes boredom and exposes each other's bad side.
This is the story of meeting. Now let us see what happens with long separation. An example of separation on a mundane platform can be seen on a train platform when relatives come to see off their dear ones. For a single person there are ten more, and each one is crying.
For a greater understanding of this phenomenon, visit a crematorium. There, the relatives are not crying, they are howling in separation.
Click! Click!! Time clicks off. One starrs forgetting about the relationship they once h ad. If that person returns many years later we take time to recognize him. What to speak of if a dead man returns. People will run away scream ing, 'Ghost!! Ghost!!' There will be no joy of meeting. This is the story. Union eventually brings boredom, and separation brings forgetfulness.
Assuming that the same thing will happen on the spiritual platform when we meet the Lord is a sign of foolishness. Meeting with the Lord and His devotee is the beginning of everything. All our practice to meet the Lord is not the end in itself, but beginning of the so called end (meeting). In relationship with Lord and His devotees, separation or union both simply increase the feeling of union, meeting. How it happens is the subject matter to discuss, the understanding of which comes from the scriptures and the eye of right attitude.
THE DEMONIAC ATTITUDE
Seeing the Lord without the right intention is a result of mundane consciousness. Hiranyakasipu wanted to see Krsna, but what was the intention? It is very beautifully explained in the Seventh Canto of Srimad Bhagavatam, how minutely he saw Krsna as Lord Nrsimhadeva, but what was the intention? to kill Krsna! In Ramayana, one South Indian Vaisnava acarya explains, that when the monkeys were fighting and defeating the army of Ravana, they developed some kind of pride, "Oh, Lord Rama requires our help, and because of uS, He is becoming victorious." A devotee always goes through this kind of obstacle in his spiritual path. And then, the next day, Raval).a came and brought his vast army. This army was as big as the ocean, limitless, the monkeys could not see the end of the army, and these were giant demons, very powerful. When the monkeys saw this vast army of Ravana, they realized their position; they starred to run away. They escaped calling out the names of Lord Rama.
When Lord Rama saw that army, then by His power of maya, He made every other demon soldier appear like Himself. Just imagine, for a devotee this concept of seeing Rama everywhere is th e h eight of spiritual perfection. We can only see Lord Rama on the altar, we don't have the vision of seeing Lord Rama everywhere.
Now, here, Lord Rama by His own desire appeared before the opposing soldiers. The demons were seeing Lord Rama everywh ere, but what was their intention? Oh now He is so easily accessible for us to kill." So they took their weapons and they started chopping their fellow soldiers who looked like Lord Rama. Within no time, the entire demoniac army was slayed.
So, even though the raksasas saw Lord Rama and had such a nice facility to take His shelter, they were unable to do so. Why? Because they were seeing Lord Rama with material intentions. Someone may think, " These were the visions of demons, but I am a devotee. I can see God." Sometimes we practise spiritual life for some years, and become eager and want to earge into the presence of the Lord forcefully. But it is not possible, because even if we meet the Supreme Personality of Godhead , barging in, unless He is excited to meet us, meeting the Lord will not create happiness to us.
Like we read in the Mahabharata, Krsna met some people to create weakness in their heart, to make them less confident, and cause despondency, not excitement. For example after meeting the whole asatsabha and chastising the Kauravas, Krsna met Krsna. Krsna was very confident of his victory over the Pandavas, especially Arjuna. He had all the weapons, but when Krsna met him, he lost all of his confidence.
So therefor e, we see that meeting Krsna is not as important. That was the t h eme of 5 rlla Bha kti siddh anta S arasvatI Thakura, when he said, "Do not try to see Krsna but serve Krsna in such a way that He wants to see you."
And when Krsna wants to see us then what does He do? He simply enhances our devotional service. We get greater opportunity to render service to Krsna in unlimited ways.
MEETING THE LORD
We see from Srimad-bhagavatam how some devotees got a chance to meet Krsna. In the first canto we read about Pariksit Maharaja. His meeting with The Lord was quite unique. We don 't read of anybody meeting the Supreme Personality of Godhead the way Pariksit Maharaja met. When Krsna decided to give His darsana to Pariksit Maharaja, Pariksit Maharaja was already dead. He was killed in the womb of his mother, Uttara, by the brahmastra of Asvatthama . But Krsna revived Pariksit Maharaja and revealed Himself to the embryo . Later, for his entire life Pariksit Maharaja was looking for the person who he saw in his mother's womb, and was also serving Krsna like his forefathers, the Pandavas.
The Fourth Canto describes an other unique meeting of Dhruva Maharaja with the Lord. Dhruva Maharaja was attached to sitting on the lap of his father, but was not allowed by his step-mother. You can imagine a five year-old child, hurt by his st ep -mother he would cry. However, if he is given some toffee he would forget everything. But here, Dhruva Maharaja did not forget, he became very determined; therefore he is called as Dhruva. He went to his mother Suniti. Suniti means one who gives auspicious instructions. He said, "Just see how I was dealt with by my step-mother." Suniti sighed , "What can I do? I have no relationship with your father. He is attached to your stepmother more than me. Only if you can worship Krsna then there is a possibility that you can attain the lap of your father."
"Where will I find Krsna ?" And spontaneously, without considering, she said, "In the forest."
Dhruva Maharaja immediately headed for the forest.There he met his spiritual mast er Narada Muni, who guided him further in aspects of devotional service by which he could finally see the Lord. He then got his kingdom and ruled it as a se rvice to God.
Another interesting story in the Sixth Canto is that of Citraketu Maharaja. Citraketu Maharaja desired a son and performed all kinds of material end eavours to have one. Ultimately, Angira Muni came to him and gave him a son. But then the son was killed. At that time Citraketu Maharaja acted like any conditioned soul would havelamenting miserably.
Then Narada Muni came and revived the child who spoke transcendental knowledge and pacified his family. Angira Muni said , "I could have spoken this knowledge to you earlier but you were not ready and therefore I wanted you to experience the pain and pleasure of having a son . You had the pleasure of having a son, now you are experiencing the pain of losing him; now you are ready to hear spiritual knowledge."
Then Narada Muni and Angira Muni very systematically prepared Citraketu Maharaja to see Krsna, making him go through all the obstacles, giving him proper instructions, and a sheltered process, promising, "Within seven days you will see Lord Anantadeva."
And when Citraketu Maharaja met the Lord, t he Lord gave him a unique benediction: "You can have unlimited sense gratification but in that unlimited sense gratification th ere will also be constant remembrance of the Supreme Personality of Godhead."
He was given that benediction by Lord Ananta, but sudd enly, Mother Parvati cursed him, for apparently, none of his faults, to become a Brahma raksasa , a demon . She condemned him saying, "You are not a proper devotee of the Lord; become a Brahma raksasa"
Just imagine being an eternal associate of the Lord, a pure devotee and now being cursed to be a demon. Losing your son is one thing bur being cursed hurts your false ego more.
So although Citraketu Maharaja became a Brahma raksasa, but because his meeting with the Lord had a spiritual significance, there was transformation of his heart. Therefore when he became a demon, his consciousness did not change. He was simply awaiting his departure back to the spiritual world, hoping to see Krsna, hoping to see Krsna's devotees, and at the sametime, wanting to serve the Supreme Personality of Godhead. That is the perfection of meeting the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
The First Canto describes another meeting of Narada Muni. In his previous life, he saw Krsna, but the Lord said, "You have seen Me but you will not attain Me in this lifetime, you'll have to come back in another birth and attain me." Still Narada Muni continued his devotional service.
LESSONS FROM SRIMAD-BHAGAVATAM
When we read these stories in the sastras, it is meant for us to be inspired by them rather than imitate them. With that inspiration, when we practise the proper procedure of Krsna consciousness as given by our teachers, under the guidance of devotees, then in a very unique way bhakti becomes very natural; it does not become suffocating, it does not become burdensome. Within sadhana bhakti there is facility for every devotee to practice in his own style, in his own unique way, according to one's background, according to one's karma, attitude, and aptitude. Each devotee has a special relationship with the Lord, and Krsna reciprocates accordingly enabling us to actually see Him.
The meeting of The Supreme Personality of Godhead for every devotee is a unique experience. But one may wonder, if it is such an experience for the devotee, what is it like for the Lord Himself? Sometimes people go and meet politicians. The person meeting him the first time may have some kind of excitement. But the leader may not experience any excitement because he does that job every day.
But with Krsna, it is not like that. As much as the devotee is excited to meet the Supreme Personality of Godhead, so much so is Krsna. Infact, because Krsna is unlimited, His excitement to meet a new devotee is much greater than the previous devotee. Krsna meets every devotee in a very unique way, more exciting than before, while maintaining the freshness of meeting the previous devotee and also increasing it to greater limits.
FACE TO FACE
And when we see Krsna, what do we do? Actual devotional service begins, as described by Srimad bhagavatam, after seeing the Supreme Personality of Godhead. It does not stop. It is not monotonous, it is not boring-Krsna is seeing me, I am seeing Krsna. In fact, Krsna Dasa Kaviraja Goswami, the author of Caitanya caritamrta, explains that just simply seeing each other is so dynamic: the affection of the Lord towards His devotee increases and His devotee's affection for the Lord increases. The Lord's beauty increases, and the experience of the Lord's beauty experienced by the devotee, it keeps on increasing. What to speak of when a devotee starts rendering service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead in that condition! Then the pleasure keeps on increasing unlimitedly. That is why Goloka Vrndavana is the highest goal, because it offers the facility of maximum service in the most intimate situation.
What about the separation and union? When there is a separation from Krsna, that separation intensifies the service attitude; one increases one's service of the Supreme Personality of Godhead so that there can be union. And when there is a union, that union also enhances the service. So both separation and union, they actually unite us in the service of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Both simply increase the quality of devotional service.
And by the grace of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu what you are supposed to do after meeting the Lord has already been awarded before meeting Him. Therefo re, when somebody asked Srila Prabhupada, "What do you gain after chanting Hare Krsna?" His reply was, "More chanting." The perfection of meeting the Supreme Personality of Godhead is seen when the things go against us. It will happen. It happened with Pariksit Maharaja, it happened with Mother Kunti, it happened with Yudhisthira Maharaja, it happened with Dhruva Maharaja, it happened with all the devotees, it happened with all the Vrajavasis in Vrndavana-being with Krsna gave them greater pain, which was not experienced by any mundane person. But what was the reaction to that? Their reaction was they increased their service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. That is the sum and substance of seeing the Lord.
OUf goal is not to see Krsna, our goal is to serve Krsna. And if by Krsna's grace, by the grace of Guru, even if we see Krsna, we will be judged by our response to seeing him. And that is-continual devotional service, non-stop devotional service-as performed by all the great devotees in the Srimad bhagavatam.
Govind Dasa joined ISKCON in 1988, and is currently a member of the presidential board of ISKCON Chowpatty.