Archive for June 2010

Trees that wood

Once there were three trees on a hill in the woods. They were discussing their hopes and dreams when the first tree said, "Someday I hope to be a treasure chest. I could be filled with gold, silver and precious gems. I could be decorated with intricate carving and everyone would see the beauty."

Then the second tree said, "Someday I will be a mighty ship. I will take kings and queens across the waters and sail to the corners of the world. Everyone will feel safe in me because of the strength of my hull."

Finally the third tree said, "I want to grow to be the tallest and straightest tree in the forest. People will see me on top of the hill and look up to my branches, and think of the heavens and God and how close to them I am reaching. I will be the greatest tree of all time and people will always remember me."

After a few years of praying that their dreams would come true, a group of woodsmen came upon the trees. When one came to the first tree he said, "This looks like a strong tree, I think I should be able to sell the wood to a carpenter" … and he began cutting it down. The tree was happy, because he knew that the carpenter would make him into a treasure chest.

At the second tree a woodsman said, "This looks like a strong tree, I should be able to sell it to the shipyard." The second tree was happy because he knew he was on his way to becoming a mighty ship.

When the woodsmen came upon the third tree, the tree was frightened because he knew that if they cut him down his dreams would not come true. One of the woodsmen said, "I don’t need anything special from my tree so I’ll take this one", and he cut it down.

When the first tree arrived at the carpenters, he was made into a feed box for animals. He was then placed in a barn and filled with hay. This was not at all what he had prayed for. The second tree was cut and made into a small fishing boat. His dreams of being a mighty ship and carrying kings had come to an end. The third tree was cut into large pieces and left alone in the dark. The years went by, and the trees forgot about their dreams.

Then one day, a man and woman came to the barn. She gave birth and they placed the baby in the hay in the feed box that was made from the first tree. The man wished that he could have made a crib for the baby, but this manger would have to do. The tree could feel the importance of this event and knew that it had held the greatest treasure of all time. Years later, a group of men got in the fishing boat made from the second tree. One of them was tired and went to sleep. While they were out on the water, a great storm arose and the tree didn’t think it was strong enough to keep the men safe. The men woke the sleeping man, and he stood and said "Peace" and the storm stopped. At this time, the tree knew that it had carried the King of Kings in its boat.

Finally, someone came and got the third tree. It was carried through the streets as the people mocked the man who was carrying it. When they came to a stop, the man was nailed to the tree and raised in the air to die at the top of a hill. When Sunday came, the tree came to realize that it was strong enough to stand at the top of the hill and be as close to God as was possible, because Jesus had been crucified on it.

The moral of this story is that when things don’t seem to be going your way, always know that God has a plan for you. If you place your trust in Him, He will give you great gifts. Each of the trees got what they wanted, just not in the way they had imagined. We don’t always know what God’s plans are for us. We just know that His ways are not our ways, but His ways are always best.

Chanting – The Only Worthy Thing

Please accept my humble obeisance. All glories to Srila Prabhupada and Gurudev.

The competitive spirit is so high these days that it keeps us immersed into whirlpools of anxiety. Even 40 to 50 years ago, life was much more peaceful. But today we find that starting from admitting child into kinder-garden school, there is so much of hassles. Getting into school/college or getting job in a good company, getting married to suitable life-partner, getting children, wealth etc are not the goals of this life. The human life should not be spoilt only for these purposes. Being born in this world, it is important to do our material duties in whatever ashram we are, but while rendering those duties we should not forget the ultimate goal of our life and our constitutional position as servant of all Supreme Lord Krishna. It is important to remember that as His servants we have to render our duties to the best of our ability and accept whatever He gives us.

There is a higher purpose behind our human existence and there is a really worthy thing to be achieved. As Prahlad Maharaj says in Srimad Bhagavatam 7.5.31, the ultimate goal of life is Vishnu and we don’t realise this truth. I am reminded of HG Devakinandan prabhuji’s statement in one of his class "One wife is enough, one child is enough, one material existence enough. One trouble is enough. This conclusion we have to come for any material endeavours. The irony is that we realize a bit of it and after the event we forget about the whole thing. Then devotional service eludes by a long way." Srila Prabhupada writes that all suffering will come to an end the moment the love for Krishna and devotional service increases and it is the only solution to all our miseries. Therefore Srimad Bhagavatam gives the only worthy thing to be done in our life instead of getting frustrated in our material life.

antah sarasy uru-balena pade griheeto
graahena yutha-patir ambuja-hasta aartah
aahedam aadi purushaakhila-loka-naatha
teertha-shravah shravana-mangala-naamadheya

"The leader of the elephants, whose leg was attacked in a river by a crocodile of superior strength, was much aggrieved. Taking a lotus flower in his trunk, he addressed the Lord, saying, "O original enjoyer, Lord of the universe! O deliverer, as famous as a place of pilgrimage! All are purified simply by hearing Your holy name, which is worthy to be chanted."

Gajendra even though it was an elephant it came to the right conclusion, but in spite of crocodile of material energy drowning us completely in the ocean of material existence, we always look for alternative arrangement other than Krishna. This is the difficulty. We don’t put Krishna as the centre, but we proclaim ourselves as devotees of Krishna, but heart of hearts we know that we are praying to Krishna only as supplementary aid. Gajendra understood the power of the Holy name which he has chanted as King Indradyumna in the previous life and therefore was able to understand the value and worth of the Holy name. So he realized the potency of the Holy name and makes a wonderful conclusion that why he is taking shelter of the Lord in this trying circumstances. Due to this unflinching faith, Lord reciprocated very quickly. Let us see why the Lord responded to him very quickly whereas it is not the case for us.

  1. You are the original enjoyer – (Aadhi purusha). Gajendra was conscious of this fact.
  2. Since He is the original enjoyer then He should be the Lord of the Universe (Akhila loka naatha). Gajendra has accepted the Supremacy of the Lord and has the conviction the Lord is the first protector.
  3. Since He is the enjoyer and Lord of the Universe then He is naturally famous.(teertha shravah). Gajendra wants to be delivered from material existence and therefore wants to be purified of his material contamination.
  4. Since He is the Lord of the Universe, is famous as place of pilgrimage, naturally His holy names can purify everybody. (shravana mangala) – Gajendra had firm conviction by chanting the holy name and prayers to the Lord will purify his contaminated form of existence.
  5. Since the holy name will purify everybody then automatically it is worth chanting. Naama dheya – Gajendra concludes that under this dire circumstances, the only worthy thing to do is to chant the holy names of the Lord.

In spite of knowing so many things, still we are not convinced that Holy name is the one and only worthy thing in our life. This due to our rebellious mind and uncontrolled senses and desires. So the reciprocation is not so much for us. We can very clearly see the ocean of difference between Gajendra and us.

So the conclusion to this verse is very nice . For that we will try to do the following things to the best of our capacity and pray for His mercy.

  1. We don’t have the luxury of 1000 celestial years like Gajendra. Let us not waste time frivolously.
  2. We have to develop the consciousness that the Lord is the original enjoyer and we have our quota allocated and be satisfied with it.
  3. In order to develop the consciousness we have to accept the supremacy of the Lord in all circumstances and seek His protection first. In order to know the Supremacy, we have to have knowledge about Him from the pages of Srimad Bhagavad Gita and Srimad Bhagavatam.
  4. We should develop at least a taste for deliverance from this mirage world of existence. We should try to convince our mind that there is an existence which is completely spiritual and eternal. This may happen by the mercy of Guru and Krishna. This realisation is difficult, but we should try in this process.
  5. Chanting the holy name will purify my existence . This is the daunting conviction we should cultivate everyday. This can be done if we do nityam bhagavata sevaya by hearing from great souls like Srila Prabhupada and Guru Maharaj
  6. Chanting is the beginning and final thing in Devotional service and it is the worthiest of all the things in Devotional service. Chanting is the most potent form of Devotional service and due to its being daily routine, it become monotonous. We should hit our rebellious mind that chanting is worthiest thing to do and that Lord alone can deliver us from material existence. So we should give top priority to chanting over other devotional service. We should not take it for granted and should especially chant with attention.
  7. Above all be conscious that we are in the jaws of material energy to be swallowed and this situation is more precarious than Gajendra’s. Crocodile of material existence is really more powerful than crocodile which is holding the feet of Gajendra. (urubalna grhitah). So let us sincerely chant

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare.

I sincerely pray for the causeless mercy of our beloved Gurudev, Srila Prabhupada that I should hammer my rebellious mind constantly to start accepting that Chanting is the only worthy in this life and nothing else.