Following is an excerpt from the lecture on how Opulences are Temporary and so is your False Ego – Vraja Bihari Das.
We start with the pastime of Krishna from the Srimad Bhagavatam, Canto 10, Chapter 10, Verse 14.
By seeing their faces, one whose body has been pricked by pins can understand the pain of others who are pin-pricked. Realizing that this pain is the same for everyone, he does not want others to suffer in this way. But one who has never been pricked by pins cannot understand this pain.
There is a saying, “The happiness of wealth is enjoyable by a person who has tasted the distress of poverty.” There is also another common saying, vandhya ki bujhibe prasava-vedana: “A woman who has not given birth to a child cannot understand the pain of childbirth.” Unless one comes to the platform of actual experience, one cannot realize what is pain and what is happiness in this material world. The laws of nature act accordingly. If one has killed an animal, one must himself be killed by that same animal. This is called mamsa. Mam means “me,” and sa means “he.” As I am eating an animal, that animal will have the opportunity to eat me. In every state, therefore, it is ordinarily the custom that if a person commits murder he is hanged.
In this section of verses, Narada Muni is chastising Nalakuvara and Manigriva who could not recognize him because they were blinded by the Opulences of wealth and beauty that they possessed and thus Narada Muni mercifully cursed them to become trees.
Srila Prabhupada further explains that this is nothing but the false ego. Now what is false ego? When we identify or connect our different roles that we play in our day to day life, and our consciousness is “I am this role that I am playing that person or that identity” that is false ego. The false ego become more intense when one wants other also to identify him or her with that same role that one is playing. This is called false pride situation and it takes you away from Krishna.
The irony is that all the roles that we are playing are temporary and that is why it is called false ego. And the so called opulences in the world are temporary as well.
On the other side we have a beautiful example of Queen Kunti, who prays to Lord Krishna to give her more and more calamities so that she would always remember Krishna. Now this is not practical at all, and Srila Prabhupada says we cannot pray like this, however, what we have to learn from this prayer of Queen Kunti, is that calamities is what we cannot avoid in our life. No one can avoid calamities and misiries in this material life and there 3 things we need to practice to survive this onslaught of calamities in our life.
1. Always remember Krishna.
2. Tolerate all unfortunate situation happen to us.
3. Fixed your mind on your goal
Further, Queen Kunti reveals why we are not able to take shelter of Krishna. It is nothing but Pride that keeps us away from taking shelter of Krishna. We are intoxicated with pride in higher or aristocratic birth, monetary opulence, higher education learning and bodily beauty because of which we cannot call out to Krishna.
And this is what Narada Muni is doing now, he is depriving Nalakuvara and Manigriva of their opulences so that they can come at a state to take shelter of Krishna.
Just like a Drunkard who is in such an intoxicated state that he cannot remember his mother, father and well-wisher, similarly people are in an intoxicated state of material opulences don’t remember their eternal father and well-wisher is Krishna. Now they are going to be slapped hard by the getting the realization that these opulances are worthless when it is take away from them and in this pastime Narad Muni does the same such that Nalakuvara and Manigriva gave up their pride that shelter of the Lord by taking away their opulances and making them humble.
One has to keep in mind, that this opulence or ability we have is a blessing to us given by Krishna and we can be happy when we are clear that these opulences does not belong to us and use it in Krishnas service.
In conclusion, whether one is in happiness and distress, one should take up chanting and taking shelter of the holy name rather than being proud and puffed with opulences or feeling miserable when these opulances are not there. Thus one has to keep a God Centered Life.