Janmashtami meditation: Krishna is committed to our freedom. Are we?
Freedom. All of us want it. Some people strive for political freedom; others for cultural freedom. Almost everyone craves for financial freedom: the independence to spend as per desire without having to bother whether enough will be left to pay for necessary expenses.
The Supreme Freedom
Gita wisdom introduces us to a new kind of freedom: spiritual freedom. What is spiritual freedom? It is the freedom to delight in our own spiritually joyful nature, the freedom to be happy without depending on anything external for our happiness. As spiritual beings, we are sat-cit-ananda, eternal, enlightened and ecstatic. When we situate ourselves in our original spiritual nature, we become free to delight everlastingly in our loving relationship with Krishna, who is the supreme reservoir of all joy, love and beauty.
This spiritual freedom is the supreme freedom because, in a single stroke, it fulfills the ultimate purpose of all other freedoms: happiness. We seek political, cultural and financial freedoms because we feel that their absence blocks our pursuit of happiness. Unfortunately, our freedom struggles overlook the greatest freedom-blocker: materialism. When materialism brings us in its clutches, it perverts our sense of identity, making us imagine that we are our material bodies. This perversion makes us intrinsically, inescapably dependent on external material things for our happiness: “As I am a material being, I need material things to be happy. What can be more obvious than that?”
What is far less obvious is that this notion steals our freedom to be happy in ourselves, in our own internal devotional connection with Krishna.
Most of us are oblivious to this theft of our freedom. But Krishna isn’t.
Krishna’s Divine Dynamism
He is unfailingly, unflinchingly committed to our freedom. He knows that we can reclaim our freedom only when we first get the knowledge of our spiritual identity and destiny; this knowledge makes us aware of the freedom we have lost. That’s why Krishna himself shares spiritual knowledge and also sets up the system of parampara for the subsequent dissemination of that knowledge. The fourth chapter of the Bhagavad-gita (4.1-3) outlines how Krishna arranges all these resources by which we can reclaim our spiritual freedom.
Krishna’s concern for our freedom is so great that it doesn’t let him stay satisfied with making background arrangement; it impels him to spring into foreground involvement. Whenever he observes that materialism has started trumping spirituality (dharmasya glanih), he personally descends to the world to offer us a double reminder of what we are missing.
Firstly, he makes available once again the systematic philosophical knowledge that makes our spiritual potential transparently, temptingly reachable. In the Bhagavad-gita, he delineates the path of devotion that enables us to easily and efficaciously reclaim our spiritual freedom
Secondly, he demonstrates the reality, the sublimity, the beauty of this freedom by revealing his eternal pastimes with his devotees. These celebrations of unending love show how our longings for freedom that we are mistakenly striving to fulfill at the material level are naturally fulfillable at the spiritual level.
The Gentle-Yet-Grave Reminder
Janmashtami, the day when Krishna descends to our world, is a poignant reminder of how committed Krishna is to our freedom. This day offers us a precious opportunity to ponder on Krishna’s total and tireless commitment to our freedom.
If we had but a fraction of the commitment to our spiritual freedom that he has, we would have been free from materialism a long time ago. However, we are so thoroughly deluded by materialistic propaganda that we mistake spirituality to be incarceration materialism to be liberation.
Gita wisdom helps us realize how treacherous this misconception is. If we just ponder on the vast number of our unsatisfied material desires, on the sheer impossibility of fulfilling them and on the futility of the fleeting happiness that they offer even if we succeed in fulfilling them, we can recognize that materialism is the expressway to incarceration.
Krishna makes himself available in this age as his holy names. The Hare Krishna mahamantra is Krishna’s sound manifestation that offers us all the blessings that his personal presence can offer. All we need to do is give up our lethargy in connecting with Krishna.
Janmashtami prods us out of our spiritual lethargy by the gentle yet grave question: Krishna is committed to our freedom. Are we?
materialism to be liberation and