Wednesday, January 1, 2014

365 steps towards perfection

Suppose that we invest our hard earned money in a company’s share which promises to give a very high return at the end of the year. But we find that throughout the year the market value of the share keeps depreciating and at the end of the year we have lost all our money. Next year the same company again launches a new scheme and asks us to purchase its share. How many of us would ever think of buying the share from the same company again? Probably no one because the company would have lost its goodwill, credibility and our trust.
2013: How was the return?
Now let us assess year 2013 and find out what return it has given to us. Considering ourselves as a smart investor we had invested a lot in 2013. We had celebrated its birth and had danced in joy thinking that the year would wipe out all miseries from the world and will bring happiness in our life. Now let us ask ourselves how the year ‘2013’ was? Did it satisfy all our dreams, desires and schemes? Did the world become a better place to live? Or still we are being haunted by the menace of terrorism, communal violence, natural calamities, diseases, death of our beloved ones, financial and job insecurity etc.  The answer is anyone’s guess. We can convincingly conclude that year ‘2013’ did not live up to its expectation. Similarly, in 2013 we had agreed that ‘2012’ was disastrous, in 2012 we accepted that ‘2011’ was terrible, in 2011 we admitted that ‘2010’ was tragic and so on. If we turn the pages of history books then we would be astonished to see that every year the same story of death, violence and disaster gets repeated unabatedly. If we gloss over the newspapers of 1913 (hundred year back), we will find that during that time also people were struggling with similar problems. In 100 years we may claim that we have advanced technologically, we may be today moving in fancy cars or conversing on smart phones but the lives basic problems remain unanswered and unresolved.
Searching life’s manual
In spite of us being so desperate for happiness why does it mostly elude us? Let us try to investigate this worrisome phenomenon. Suppose that we purchase an electronic gadget and the product manual says that if it is operated beyond 500 volts it will give an electric shock. Initially we may doubt the warning and try to operate it beyond 500 volts. However while doing so we get a terrible shock. Henceforth will we ever operate it above 500 volts? In fact we would develop unflinching faith in the gadget’s manual and will believe each word of it. In order to use any product effectively we need to follow the product’s manual carefully.  Similarly to know how to live in this world properly we need to search for life’s manual and live as per its guidelines. Vedic literatures like Bhagavad Gita, Srimad Bhagavatam, Isopanisad have been the guiding light for humanity since the dawn of creation. As for the electronic gadget to work effectively the product manual provided certain guidelines. Similarly to live happily in this world there is few do’s and don’ts which we are supposed to follow. These rules and regulations have been elaborately discussed in Vedic literatures, the oldest book of humanity.
Krishna’s wisdom words
Krishna, the supreme God, in Bhagavad Gita 8.15 calls this world as dukhalayam asaswatam, an abode of miseries. This material world is a place where one will experience only suffering. Now since Krishna has already defined the nature of this world then how can we expect that this world will provide us any happiness? Finding happiness in this world is like catching cloud and pinning it down. Our effort will never bear any result. And this is why in spite of all endeavors we hardly experience any satisfaction or happiness here. Everyone would agree with me. However let us not become despondent by hearing Krishna’s candid remark about the plight of those living in this world. Although this world is an awful place to live but Krishna, our Supreme father, being benign gives us a formula to transcend miseries of this world. He exhaustively explains: “How to be happy in this world” and “How to immunize ourselves against material miseries”. To achieve this we need to emulate the footsteps of Arjuna, Krishna’s friend and disciple.  Arjuna was in quandary at the battlefield of Kurushetra but after he decided to bring Krishna in his life, his all problems got resolved. He not just emerged victories in the epic battle but was also able to transcend all sufferings.  Like Arjuna, we too need to spiritualize our life and live as per Krishna’s advice. As the sun rises, the darkness dissipates. Likewise the moment we open our heart to Krishna all the sufferings and miseries from our life will vanish and we would be exposed to unlimited bliss.
How to be happy in this world
 In Gita 3.10 it is explained that one can be happy in this world only if one performs yajna [sacrifice] for the satisfaction of Vishnu [Krishna]. The yajna recommended for this age [Kaliyuga] is the sankirtan yajna i.e. chanting the names of God like the Hare Krishna Mahamantra.  As we saw that if a company’s share perform badly then the investors do not put their money again in it. Similarly we have been investing our time, energy and efforts in material aggrandizement for several years but the return has always been horrible. It is time for us to change our strategy. Now, we should not simply run for material positions and possessions and not try hard to satisfy the unlimited demands of our body and senses because these activities would never ever bring contentment, we have a firsthand experience of this. “Before giving up this present body, if one is able to tolerate the urges of the material senses and check the force of desire and anger, he is well situated and is happy in this world.” (Bhagavad Gita 5.23). So, instead of wasting our time in mindless material activities we need to spiritualize our lives and try to develop relationship with Krishna. “One who is not connected with the Supreme [in Kṛṣṇa consciousness] can have neither transcendental intelligence nor a steady mind, without which there is no possibility of peace. And how can there be any happiness without peace?” Bhagavad Gita 2.66.
If we are serious about transforming our lives then we need to act as per Krishna’s wisdom words. Krishna promises that those who take his shelter, he personally takes care of them, “Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reactions. Do not fear.” (Bhagavad Gita 18.66). Disregarding the instructions of the gadget’s manual gave us an electric shock; similarly if we fail to comply by the pristine message of Vedic scriptures in letter and spirit then we should be ready for a terrible shock in our life. In this year, 2014, let us not repeat the mistakes of previous years but start living as per the guidance of sacred Vedic books and bring Krishna in our life. And the best way to do is by chanting the Hare Krishna Mahamantra,” Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare/Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare”. 
It is said that if we take a single step towards Krishna then he takes hundreds of steps towards us. Let us begin by taking at least one single step towards him every day. So this year we should take a vow that we will take at least 365 steps towards Krishna. A single step each day will act as a springboard and take us closer to Krishna where we will be the recipient of limitless bliss and complete satisfaction.
The yogi whose mind is fixed on Me verily attains the highest perfection of transcendental happiness: Bhagavad  Gita 6.27

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