“The saintly brahmana said: Everyone considers certain things within the material world to be most dear to him, and because of attachment to such things one eventually becomes miserable. One who understands this gives up material possessiveness and attachment and thus achieves unlimited happiness”
The instructions of avadhoota Brahmin (Srimad Bhagavatam, 11.9.1)
“I can focus neither on my spiritual life nor my work in office; my mind is constantly plagued with worries of my family, children and my finances”
As my friend downloaded the miseries plaguing his heart, I empathised for some time; later I reflected on the principle that’s working in his life.
What is the first thing the child does when he or she comes out of the womb? Do you know of babies that come out laughing and clapping in joy? Every child cries during birth. This is a sobering reminder of the principle of material existence; this world is a place of suffering and anxiety. As we grow older, we may externally not cry like the baby, but our mind is constantly plagued with anxieties. Behind the façade of our social masks, we carry deep scars and tears caused by our ever miserable mind. Even as we fret and fume over our tale of woe, we continue to hanker and hope for a better material condition.
And suffering enters the lives of both the demoniac and the pious; if one is attached to enjoying anything, one has to face the resultant reaction. Hiranyakashipu was a cruel ruler of the whole planet, and had all facilities to enjoy uninterruptedly. Yet he was miserable because his mind wasn’t in control; he was disturbed that his son Prahalad had become a devotee of Krishna. King Anga on the other hand was a pious man, but was miserable because his son Vena was demoniac and refused to become a devotee of Krishna. How each of these kings would have wished to have a son like that of the other. Then there was another religious king Chitraketu who suffered miserably because he had no issue. Even the immoral prostitute Pingala was despondent when she received no customers. The world refuses to cooperate with our wish to be the enjoyer in this world; whoever we are and whatever we possess, we’d be in pain if we are centred on the fleeting pleasures thatthis temporary world can offer.
Knowing this world’s nature, let’s stop expecting happiness from its passing objects. Let’s instead look inward to our pure existence. The soul is by nature pure, and belongs to the spiritual world. Only at this realm of existence can we be truly happy. We focus on our spiritual nature by chanting the divine, Holy Names of the Lord. This helps us attain a peace beyond the material realm; happiness at this plane of existence is not only sustainable, it also helps us carry out our worldly duties happily, in a spirit of detached responsibility.
Little Narada is a classic example of this principle; he was orphaned when his mother suddenly died due to a snake bite. Undeterred by the tragedy, he had the strength to seek Krishna, chanting His Holy Names. This was due to the culture of hearing and chanting Krishna’s Holy Names and sincere service to saintly devotees that his mother had earlier practised. The five year old Narada had then happily assisted his mother, and now when tragedy struck, he was prepared with the internal shelter of Krishna. The Srimad Bhagavatam is replete with similar examples.
These instances in scriptures reveal how if we practise spiritual principles- chanting, hearing and service- we get the strength to face disappointments and remain happy; our internal anchor gives us the shelter even as the tornadoes of setbacks strike unexpectedly in this world.