“As a person aggrieved by hunger and thirst is not pleased by the external gratification of flower garlands or sandalwood pulp, I am not pleased with my empire, opulence or possessions, which are desirable even for great demigods, because I have no son” – King Chitraketu’s lamentation, Srimad Bhagavatam (6.14.26)
Another emperor, Chitraketu Maharaj also learnt this lesson. Despite having many qualified wives, he could get no issue. Finally he begged a sage who visited his kingdom to bless him with a child. The sage smiled and revealed he could have a child but he would have to name him ‘harshashoka’ which means ‘happiness and suffering’. In other words the sage was foreboding how the child would give little happiness to the emperor but would soon engulf him in an ocean of suffering. The king being desperate for a child didn’t take this warning seriously; he thought it’s natural for a child to be mischievous, and his pranks may cause some distress, but that’s fine. This is the nature of material attachments; one is blinded to warning of sure suffering that awaits our pursuit of enjoyment. Every act of seeking pleasure in this world contains within it the seed of suffering that is simply hiding around the corner, waiting to strike at the opportune moment.
In time the king was delighted to be blessed with a child, but by the evil conspiracy of his other queens who felt ignored due to the arrival of this child he was again cast into gloom. The queens plotted to poison the child and his death devastated the king. Soon the sage returned and after a profound discourse on spiritual subject matters, the king was enlightened and he went on to become a great devotee of God.
The pastime of Chitraketu Maharaj as well as the realizations of mother Devahuti reveals the common error in our pleasure hunt in this world. The basic foundation of pleasure pursuits in this world is our body and mind; without it hardly any enjoyment is possible. But as we attempt to squeeze out happiness from this body, we are challenging the material nature, because our body belongs not to us but to the material energy. The proof of how the body doesn’t belong to you is if it was really yours you could order it not to get old, or diseased, or die and the body would obey you. Yet none of us can check the advances of cruel time in our lives and in the lives of our dear ones. Therefore when we try to exploit that which belongs to Mother Nature we land up with terrible pain.
The rules of this world have remained the same; the world has been designed to frustrate all our attempts to be the enjoyer and master here. It’s pertinent to note what emperor Chitraketu or Devahuti- an emperor’s daughter and the wife of a great sage revealed millions of years ago is as relevant today in our lives.
The alternative is to go beyond the body; to seek happiness from the level of soul, the real occupier of the body. The soul, like a driver within a vehicle, is the real mover of the body. When we attend to the needs of the soul, we transcend the petty and perishable bodily pleasures and are catapulted to a rich, never ending happiness of the soul. And this is experienced in connection with the Supreme Lord through chanting of Holy Names, hearing or reading scriptures glorifying the Supreme Lord or worshipping his beautiful deity form or various other spiritual activities.
ISKCON conducts variegated spiritual activities in all its centres across the world and offers us a chance to experience spiritual happiness even while residing within this temporary body. And it’s free of cost; you needn’t be a billionaire to experience this!