By Gauranga Sundar Das
To make the most out of life, we need to know what the greatest achievement possible in life is. If we were to ask the average person what the greatest thing he could achieve in his life was, the answers would almost all centre around increasing material facilities for the gratification of his, or his family’s material senses. People would like to become very wealthy, very beautiful, very powerful, very famous, etc. It is all self-centred. In this materialistic, selfish, self-centred world we have come to think a successful life means providing a sense of gratification.
The truth is that this concept of sense gratification is only an illusion. We can’t enjoy the material world. The actual enjoyable substance is not present in the material world. This material world is called maya, it means “that which is not”. We have the idea of pleasure, the idea of love, etc. But the actual pleasure, the actual love, is not to be found in the material world. This material world is a perverted reflection of the spiritual world. The spiritual world is the Kingdom of God. The place where Krishna lives is in association with His devotees. The real pleasure is in the spiritual world. Trying to enjoy the material world is like trying to enjoy the taste of the mangoes on a tree that is reflected in the water of a lake. We can’t taste the mangoes in the reflection of the tree. We can get the idea of the mangoes from the reflection but to taste them, we need the actual tree, not the reflection
Although we strive to be the master, the reality is we are all eternally servants. We have no choice but to serve. That is our nature. You can study any person in this world, even the so-called greatest man, and you will find he is a servant. The President is the servant of his countrymen and if they are not happy with his service, they will drag him down from office. So in this way, everyone is a servant. No one is independent. But serving in the material world is not satisfying. We can only be happy by serving Krishna.
Before spiritual life is possible, we have to realise that this material world is not our home. We are in a very hostile foreign country and we can never be happy here. To be happy, we have to go back home, back to Godhead. So there is no point in trying to make a comfortable arrangement here in the material world. It is not possible. We can never be happy in the material world. That is like a fish trying to be happy out of the water. It is not possible. The fish needs to live in a watery atmosphere. The fish can never be happy on the land. Similarly, we are spiritual entities and we can only be happy in the spiritual atmosphere. We can never be happy in the material atmosphere.
We all have our karma, our destiny. It is already fixed, we can’t change how much we will enjoy and suffer in the material world. So once we understand this, we can “make the best use of a bad bargain” and use our lives as a way to elevate our consciousness to Krishna consciousness. The human life is a very valuable boat and we can use this boat to cross over this material world, which is likened to an ocean of darkness and reach the spiritual world on the other side.
Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita (Chapter 8, Text 5): “And whoever, at the time of death, quits his body, remembering Me alone, at once attains My nature. Of this, there is no doubt.”
In this verse, the importance of Krishna consciousness is stressed. Anyone who quits his body in Krishna consciousness is at once transferred to the transcendental abode of the Supreme Lord. The word “remembering” is important. Remembrance of Krishna is not possible for the impure soul, who has not practised Krishna consciousness in devotional service. To remember Krishna, one should chant the maha-mantra, Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare, incessantly, following in the footsteps of Lord Caitanya, being more tolerant than the tree, humbler than the grass, and offering all respect to others without requiring respect in return. In such a way, one will be able to depart from the body successfully remembering Krishna and attain the supreme goal.
So here we have the key to understanding the perfection of the human life. Our human life is perfect if we can remember Krishna at the time of death. We should never forget this. And we will not be able to remember Krishna at the time of death unless we practice remembering Krishna during our lives. The purpose of Krishna consciousness is to live in such a way that we always, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, are constantly remembering Krishna. Death can come at any moment. We do not know if we will still be living in this body in one hour. At any moment we can die. So the devotee is very careful to fill every moment of his life with Krishna consciousness. We need to adjust our lives so our every action is performed for Krishna under the direction of a pure devotee of Krishna.
This art of living for Krishna, working for Krishna, doing everything for Krishna, this is the science of Krishna consciousness, and Srila Prabhupada has given us all the secrets as to how to easily practice Krishna consciousness in his books. We need to read Srila Prabhupada’s books and put the instructions into practice in our day-to-day lives. That will lead to a very blissful and ecstatic existence for us in the material world and will cause us to remember Krishna at the time of death which will guarantee that at the time of quitting this material body, we will go back home, back to Godhead to serve Krishna there in the association of the pure devotees of Krishna. Chant Hare Krishna and be happy!
Gaurangasundar Das is Director, Iskcon Inc Communication and SM IT head.
DISCLAIMER: The author is solely responsible for the views expressed in this article. The author carries the responsibility for citing and/or licensing of images utilized within the text.