The entire Vedic system of samskaras is so set up so that we can become fixed in our devotion to the Lord irrespective of what developments or challenges come in our way.
It is important to remember that we are eternal spirit souls, temporarily in these material bodies, we have an original home in the spiritual realm, and a direct relationship with Krishna the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Those souls who we have, or are associating with have been given to us by the Lord, that we can mutually benefit each other in our sojourn in this place.
At the present we may be the son, husband or father of a particular soul, but in the real or permanent scale of things, we have all had so many fathers, been so many husbands or wives, and been son to so many mothers and fathers, from time immemorial, in various species, under various circumstances, in different lives. This is nicely explained in the story of Chitraketu (Srimad Bhagavatam 6th canto 14-16th chapters), who after being revived after passing away by his grieving parents of that life, asks “Which parents of mine are you?”
Our love that we feel for the departed is genuine and should not be denied artificially out of fanaticism. Rather we need to grieve for the soul, but at the same time understand that for one who has taken birth as a devotee, always hearing the Holy name, taking prasadam, rendering service to the Deity, serving the spiritual master and the Vaishnavas, he or she has gained so much benefit, that will never be lost.
For those of us who have by the grace and mercy of the Lord come to Krishna consciousness at a later stage of our lives, similarly there is no loss for any and all devotional service that we have performed, and that such service will not forgotten by Krishna when we are relocating into a new body.
There are numerous places in Bhagavad Gita where Lord Krishna states to Arjuna that one who performs devotional service he is very dear to me, that there is never any loss or dwindling/diminition of the results of that service.
In the shastras there are numerous incidents where devotees have been saved by even performing a small amount of devotional service, what to speak of great devotees like Sri Prahlad or Dhruva, who benefit many generations. Actually, even those of us who have performed a meagre amount of service, those who are associated with us, our parents, relatives, friends all gain benefit from that service, such is the wonders of devotional service.
And as for who is to blame for our loss is described in the Srimad Bhagavatam 1:17:22 purport.
In Bhagavad-gitä it is said: svalpam apy asya dharmasya (Bg. 2.40). It is certainly a great fall to go from human life to animal life, but in the case of Bharata Mahäräja or any devotee, devotional service to the Lord never goes in vain. As stated in Bhagavad-gétä (8.6): yam yam väpi smaran bhävam tyajaty ante kalevaram. At the time of death, by nature’s law the mind is absorbed in a certain type of thinking. This may lead one to animal life, yet for a devotee there is no loss. Even though Bharata Mahäräja received the body of a deer, he didn’t forget his position. Consequently, in the body of a deer he was very careful to remember the cause of his downfall. As a result, he was given a chance to be born in a family of very pure brähmanas. Thus his service to the Lord never went in vain. (A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Srimad Bhagavatam 5:12:15. Purport.)
Närada Muni says, “Oh, there is no loss for him.”Yatra kva väbhadram
abhüd amushya kim ko vä artha äptah abhajatäm sva-dharmatah.
Närada Muni says that even if he falls down he does not lose anything.
But what does he gain if one is engaged in his occupational duty as a brähmana,
kshatriya, vaishya, or this or that? If he sticks to his occupational duty
and does not understand Krishna consciousness, what does he gain? He does
not gain anything. Suppose if one follows the rules and regulations of
a brähmana. His next life he may get a brähmana birth or a very,
I mean to say, learned family. Like that he can get. But that is not a
very good gain. But Närada Muni says if one has begun the occupational
duty of Krishna consciousness, giving up all other occupational duties,
even if he falls down, that one percent, two percent, remains as his asset
so that he will be able to begin from next life again Krishna consciousness.
So it is so nice that even one falls down, it will not Whatever he has
done, whatever you have done, that is your permanent asset. Permanent because
it is spiritual. This Krishna consciousness movement is spiritual. As spirit
soul is eternal, permanent, similarly, any activity on the spiritual platform
is eternal. It will never be lost. So there are many instructions like
So Prahläda Mahäräja is also stressing on that point, that durlabham mänusham janma tad apy adhruvam arthadam. Although this human form of life is not very long, but you can get the very nice result out of it.(Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. 8th May 1968. Srimad Bhagavatam class 7:6:1. Boston, USA)
“It is said in the Srimad-Bhagavatam that this devotional service is
so powerful that even if a devotee occasionally falls down from the standard
there is no loss for him. If he is sincere, he will automatically rectify
his error and Lord Krsna immediately purifies him from within. This is
stated in the Bhagavad-gita also, that for the devotee Krsna gives all
protection, and there is never any loss for him. But if one is not engaged
in Krsna Consciousness, there is no gain for him in any position of material
So we must stick firmly to the chanting of the Holy Name and following the rules. This will keep us from being tricked by Maya. But there is no question of disappointment for some temporary bewilderment. We are all new and weak in this Krsna Consciousness. Just as everyone in the hospital is diseased, and although they are trying to become well there is a chance that anyone of them may relapse, but that does not mean that the hospital should be closed. It is now our business to struggle with Maya, and when we win out by Krsna's grace that is to regain our natural healthy life of Krsna Consciousness. So there is no case of disappointment.” (A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. 19th February 1970. Letter to Sucandra dasa. LA.)
Simply engage yourself in such things which will continue, ...will exist
Just like we are learning here Krishna’s service. So Krishna’s service is here, and if you are perfect, then Krishna’s service is there after death also, the same thing. Therefore it is said, mära vä jiva vä. One saintly person said to a royal prince, räja-putra ciran jiva, ciran jiva: “Oh, you are the son of a king. You will live forever.” Muni-putra muni-putra mä jiva mä jiva: “Oh, you are the disciple of a saintly person, brahmacäri, you please die immediately.” Just see. Räja-putra ciran jiva, blessing räja-putra, “You live forever.” And muni-putra, the son of a muni, or the disciple of a muni, he says, mä jiva, mä jiva: “You don’t live, you’ll die. You die.” And that thing... That, what is called? This butcher. Butcher, he is advising the butcher, jiva vä mära vä: “Either you...” No. He is advising butcher, mä jiva mä mära: “Don’t die, don’t live.” And to a sädhu, saintly person, he is advising, jiva vä mära vä, two things. So what is the purport? The purport is that this prince, he is enjoying material enjoyment, but next life he will have to become a dog. “So better you live with your enjoyment. Ciran jiva. Because as soon as you die, you are going to be a dog. So better you live. So long you will live it is good for you.” And muni-putra, a brahmacäri, his business is fasting and go to collect for Guru Mahäräja, and then whatever he takes, he offers to the guru. Then the guru says that “You can eat,” he can eat. It is hardship, but by this hardship he is now prepared to go back to home, Godhead. So he says, “You immediately die so you can go to Vaikuntha immediately.” And the cruel butcher, he is advised, mä jiva mä mära: “You don’t live and don’t die. Because your living condition is so horrible that every day, morning, you have to kill so many animals and see bloodshed and this. It is a horrible life. Your occupation is very, very horrible. Therefore you should not live. But at the same time, if you die, then you are going to suffer all this suffering yourself. Then you don’t die also.” So this is the position. And sädhu, those who are saintly person, devotees, he is advised, jéva vä mära vä: “Either you live or either you die, your business is to serve Krishna. You are serving Krishna now, and after death, you will serve Krishna. So there is no question of your death, neither there is no question of your birth.” So these are some moral instructions.(Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. 3rd January 1974. Srimad Bhagavatam class 1:16:6. Los Angeles.)
So having grieved naturally utilise the Asaucham period to reflect on the situation. Reflect on the nature of the soul, the nature of consciousness, and our relationship with the Lord. Having thus resolved our understanding of who we are in relation to those around us, and their eternal relationship with the Lord, and our temporal position in this world, we can be thankful for the moments of association that we had with departed loved ones, but now understanding the situation work towards healing, through spiritual knowledge and realisation.
It is required that the functional pujas of the samskaras aide us to get over the loss, and with confidence and faith fix our God given intelligence back to the job at hand, our preparation to overcome the impending threats of death and to return to the spiritual abode.
To be successful in this venture we need to have addressed all aspects of our being through the development of Krishna consciousness, as stated in Bhagavad Gita 2:59. If we have genuinely gained a higher taste and understanding, then we will no longer lament for the things of this world, having understood their nature. Where this is lacking, we need to understand that it is us who is lacking, and through positive association seek aide of fixed up devotees.
The qualification to enter into Krishna’s realm and pastimes is that we have attained at least to asakti (100% attachment to Krishna, and 100% detachment from the myre/maya of the temporal world) (Madhurya Kadambini).
Those of us who have stepped even one foot on this path will never be the loser. We will take up from where we left off each time in each life until we have dealt with all the issues that presently convince us to seek temporal pleasure in this material realm separately from Krishna consciousness. Until this is resolved in our hearts we remain here.
In this regard, if you see me lost on the path, please kindly stop and redirect me. Some things I have understood, some I still to work on. Like persons who are attending a bath-room for the purpose of becoming cleansed – those who are preparing to bathe tolerate, while those in the shower properly equipped act as their preparation – those now drying off are supportive.
Let us then be like that in all stages of our development – where we can reach down and lend a hand, while ourselves holding on to those devotees who themselves reach down to us. Thus reaching upward in appreciation, and downward out of compassion simply following the process of devotional service we will reach the required goal, in due course of time. Of that there is no doubt.
As Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada so nicely, and kindly writes to his dear disciple Brahmananda:
Krsna Consciousness means
We should always be satisfied and happy,
Not that we must work something impossible,
Become overburdened and then,
Because we are unhappy by so much trouble,
We lose enthusiasm and give up all hope.
By all means we must preserve our spiritual status, that is the point.
Not that we are mad after big buildings,
Many devotees, life members, this, that______
No. These are only the ways to engage the devotees,
So that they may apply the principles
Of devotional service to some kind of work.
It is not the result of the work that we want.
If we sincerely preach
To only one person a day,
That is sufficient,
Never mind big, big programs.
So do not be bothered by these things.
Krsna does not like to see His sincere devotee
Suffer or become frustrated or depressed.
He will not stand idly by, in such a case,
So do not fear on that account.
Krsna has a plan for you,
Always think in that way
And very soon He will provide
Everthing to your heart's desire.
Letter from Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada to Brahmananda Swami (9th December 1972)
Put in the form of a poem.
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