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Solving the Riddle of Birth and Death

Solving the Riddle of Birth and Death

The unique contribution of Srila Prabhupada to humanity is that he presented the conclusion of all scriptures to all classes of people without discrimination. People from various cultural backgrounds also could appreciate his teachings and adopt Krishna bhakti as way of life. The greatest achievement of Srila Prabhupada was that he was able to convince the ‘hippies'(people who lost all hopes in life) to take to Krishna consciousness and made them ‘happies’. When they started following Srila Prabhupada, the magazine ‘New York Times’ wrote, “Swamiji convinces the world’s most toughest audience that he knows the way to God”. The hippies were sons/daughters of millionaires but were living in a miserable condition because they were not knowing the aim of life. This is clear proof that real happiness is independent of material situation and can be obtained only by God concisousness.

The sruti mantras (Svetasvatara Upanishad 6.20) give a nice analogy about the importance of Krishna consciousness to attain eternal happiness.

yadaa charmavadaakaasham veshtayishyanti maanavaah
tadaa devamavijnaaya duhkhasyaanto bhavishhyati

“Only when men shall roll up the entire sky like rolling a leather, they can attain the end of all miseries (release from birth and death) without realizing the Effulgent Great God.”

Just as it is impossible to roll the entire sky like leather, it is impossible to solve the problem of birth and death without surrendering to the Supreme Lord. There is nice story to illustrate this point.

Once there lived a rich man in a village with his three sons. He was the disciple of a great sage who trained him well in the devotional service of the Lord. He was sincerely performing devotional service and very much tried to teach his sons about the importance of devotional service. But they did not show much interest. They thought it is only for very old people who are not successful in material life. The rich man felt very bad about this and told the Sage. The Sage replied,”Do not worry. I will take care of your sons. Please continue your devotional service sincerely as long as you’re alive. When you’re writing your final Will you write the way I instruct you” and the sage instructed him accordingly. After sometime, the rich man passed away in complete spiritual consciousness and before dying he wrote the Will as per the Sage’s instruction. After he died, his sons took the will and read them in front of the judge. The Will said that all the land, jewellery and cash has to be shared equally by all the three sons. And the rich man had 19 world class horses, which were very expensive, each worth lacs of gold coins. The Will said that the horses should be shared among the three sons in the following way.

The first son should get half the number of the total horses. The second son should get one fourth the number of the total horses and the third son should get one fifth number of the total horses. The division should be done without cutting any of horses. If the sons are not able to do the division, then all the 19 horses should be surrendered to the King.

The three sons were shocked to hear this and started raking their brains to divide the horses. But they could never find a way of doing it. They became very much worried as they have to surrender the horses to the King. At that time, a man from the next village came riding on a horse and asked these sons, “Why are you looking so sad?”. The three sons explained the reason and requested the stranger to suggest a way to divide the horses. He asked them to line up all the 19 horses and he parked his horse along with them thereby making the total number of horses to 20. He asked the first son to take half of it (10 horses). He asked the second son to take one fourth of the total number (5) and he asked the last son to take one fifth of the total number(4). So all the 19 horses (10+5+4) were shared as per the will. After everybody took their share, the stranger’s horse alone was standing. He took the horse and was about to leave. All the three sons fell at his feet and thanked him sincerely. The stranger revealed his identity and he was none other than the Sage. He said, “I’m the spiritual master of your father. He was worried that you people are not taking to devotional service. So I arranged this riddle to help you. Just as the above problem could not be solved without bringing in the 20th horse, the fundamental problem of material existence namely the problem of repeated birth and death cannot be solved without bringing in the Supreme Lord who is beyond this material world. Just as I added the 20th horse to solve the problem of dividing the 19 horses, please add the chanting of Lord’s names and glories into your lives. This simple process will help you attain eternal life of knowledge and bliss.” The sons of the rich man then came to their senses and started performing devotional service very seriously.

The above story illustrates the desperate need of devotional service in human form of life. This point is clearly stated in Bhagavata purana (12.4.40) that there is no other boat than chanting the glories of the Supreme Being to cross over the ocean of birth and death.

samsara-sindhum ati-dustaram uttiteershor
naanyah plavo bhagavatah purushottamasya
lila-katha-rasa-nishevanam antarena
pumso bhaved vividha-duhkha-davaarditasya

“For a person who is suffering in the fire of countless miseries and who desires to cross the insurmountable ocean of material existence, there is no suitable boat except that of cultivating devotion to the transcendental taste for the narrations of the Supreme Personality of Godhead’s pastimes.”

The words ‘na anyah plavo’ indicates that by no amount of material advancement once can cross birth and death. One should surrender to the Supreme Lord in devotional service and bring Him into our lives.

I pray at the lotus feet of Guru Maharaj, Srila Prabhupada and the devotees to get a little taste for devotional service in this life time.

Yours in the service of Srila Prabhupada and Gurudeva,
Narahari Krishna Dasa
Chennai.

Chant,

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna

Krishna Krishna

Hare Hare

Hare Rama Hare Rama

Rama Rama

Hare Hare

and be happy.