When Dhruva Maharaj started with a selfish motive, how did he attain Vaikuntha, the abode of selflessness?
Transcriber: Dr Suresh Gupta
Edited by: Sharan Shetty
bQuestion: When Dhruva Maharaj started with a selfish motive, how did he attain Vaikuntha, the abode of selflessness?
Answer: There is some starting impetus and whatever it is, initially we start with, yena kena prakarena manah krishna niveshayat – “Somehow or other one must associate with Lord Krishna.”
Srimad Bhagavatam (2.3.10) says akamah sarva kamo va moksha kama udara dhih (A person who has broader intelligence, whether he be full of all material desire, without any material desire, or desiring liberation, must by all means worship the supreme whole, the Personality of Godhead.)
Thus, the initial starting purpose does not matter so much if we are ready to change the purpose afterwards. The most dramatic change that happened to Dhruva Maharaj was when he had the darshan of Lord Vishnu. He had come with a desire to attain a kingdom but after having darshan of Lord Vishnu he said, “I do not want a kingdom”.
A similar incident took place in Mumbai. There was a devotee (a disciple of Srila Prabhupada), who was a thief before he came to Krishna consciousness. One day he saw a picture of Srila Prabhupada wearing a Rolex watch. He thought of stealing that watch but when he came to the temple, Prabhupada was not there. He investigated and as devotees were doing some service, he also started doing some service waiting for Swami ji to come.
For days he kept thinking, “When will Swami ji come? When will Swami ji come?” and eventually as days passed, he stopped keeping time but continued his engagement in service. He started practicing bhakti and the day Prabhupada came, other devotees introduced this person to Prabhupada and praised his service. Prabhupada himself took out his watch and gave it to him but he smiled and said, “Prabhupada, I do not want this watch”.
Thus, we can see that a transition happened. But how did that transition happen? In the case of Dhruva Maharaj, it happened when he got the darshan of Lord Vishnu. He got a higher taste and that higher taste made him understand that this is better. This was a very conscious decision that Dhruva Maharaja made.
Selflessness and selfishness can both be dispositions and decisions. All of us at different levels are selfishly disposed where we think of ourselves first but when a conscious or an important juncture comes in our life, we may either simply act according to disposition or we may take a different decision, and so, Dhruva Maharaj took that decision to turn towards the Lord.
The Srimad Bhagavatam describes how King Pururava, when he lost Urvashi became so agitated that he performed a yajna to please Lord Vishnu and eventually Lord Vishnu appeared in front of him. Although Lord Vishnu was supremely attractive, Pururava’s mind was still filled with the attractiveness of Urvashi and so he desired for her. Finally, he got what he desired and after that, Lord Vishnu went away. In this case, even when Pururava saw Lord Vishnu, his attachment was so strong that it could not change him, however, the darshan of Lord Vishnu did not go waste. Later on, when again Urvashi left him and he was frustrated, that frustration inspired him to go towards devotion. Similarly, we have to make such decisions when we are practicing bhakti.
At present, we may have some selfish motive – I want to be famous, I want to be appreciated, I want people to follow me or want a certain position. But along with this, there is also the desire to serve Krishna. If somebody was hundred percent selfish; that person would not be in bhakti because while practicing bhakti, one has to obey rules and regulations which involves giving up of certain amount of selfishness. At the same time, to be hundred percent selfless, it takes a lot of efforts. We cannot artificially imagine that we are at a selfless level. We will do our services the way we do and at some point, eventually we will come across a crossroad where we have to make a choice – do we choose a selfish self-centred alternative or we choose a selfless alternative? These decisions will determine our further trajectory.
The change in consciousness happens gradually but sometimes it is manifested dramatically at particular moments. It Is like the rising of a sun in the morning. Although the rising of a sun is a gradual event, there is a particular moment when we notice it and suddenly say, “Oh, the sun has risen”. Our realisation that the sun has risen happens at a particular moment although the sun is rising constantly. Similarly, in practice of bhakti the journey from selfishness to selflessness is automatically happening but there are certain moments when we become aware of it and make a conscious choice, which we might not have made earlier.
Although Dhruva Maharaj’s motive was selfish but when he saw Lord Vishnu, he chose the selfless option rather than a selfish option. As far as his own endeavour was concerned, it was not an individual endeavour because he also received directions from sage Narada. As Narada Muni instructed him, he followed those instructions accordingly.
Therefore, endeavour is very important on the path of bhakti. Srila Prabhupada himself endeavoured so much. He travelled across the world in old age, translated hundreds of books, barely slept and woke up early in the morning, managed many different temple projects. He was tireless in his effort to share Krishna bhakti with the world.
An important point to note is that although our endeavour alone does not bring the results, we need to endeavour to show Krishna that we want to offer the results. Arjuna practiced tirelessly for becoming an expert archer and then offered it in Krishna’s service. Therefore, whichever service we are doing we need to endeavour whole heartedly. Only when we endeavour whole heartedly do we show Krishna our diligence. The endeavour itself will not produce the results but endeavour shows Krishna that we want the result.
Srila Prabhupada gave an example in this context. Once he was going with his disciples on a morning walk and there was a man who was feeding some ducks in a pond. The ducks were quacking, and this man kept throwing some food to them and there was one duck who was quacking very loudly, and the man was giving comparatively more food to that duck. Srila Prabhupada said we should be like that duck. Now, the duck’s quacking itself does not produce the food neither the ducks quacking necessarily compel the man to give that duck more food, but the duck’s quacking shows the eagerness and the man reciprocates. Similarly, our endeavour shows Krishna that we want His mercy.
If we think that our endeavour alone results in advancement, then it is a misunderstanding. Although we often make plans to study shastra, to chant attentively etc. still our mind wanders and we are just not able to do those things attentively. Even if we are able to do those activities externally, our consciousness does not remain focussed internally. But sometimes, even after having a stressful day, we are able to experience sweet absorption while chanting. Sometimes we study shastra and feel like doing something else. At times we study shastra and experience tremendous absorption. Why does this difference happen? Because in reality, our endeavour is not the only important factor, but Krishna’s mercy also comes into the picture.
It is said in Srimad Bhagavatam (1.2.18),
nashta prayeshv abhadreshu nityam bhagavata sevaya
bhagavaty uttama shloke bhaktir bhavati naishthiki
In purport, Srila Prabhupada explains that just the mechanical activity of hearing and chanting also wipes off some anarthas but interestingly not all anarthas (prayeshu — almost to nil). The full transformation happens when it is not mechanical but devotional. Therefore, we invest our consciousness in it and when we do that, Krishna reciprocates, and he reveals himself to us. For us our endeavour is to try to keep ourselves in Krishna consciousness. We should engage in devotional service, be in a devotional association and try as much possible to have a devotional disposition. However, ultimately it is Krishna who will attract us and when Krishna attracts us then the inner trouble ceases. Till the point Krishna uses his mercy, we show our endeavour by our struggle to focus. When Krishna shows his mercy the inner struggle ceases and we become spontaneously attracted to him.
End of transcription.