What is the purpose of life?

by November 3, 2010

Answer: Love; eternal, divine love.

Let’s analyze our current existential situation from the perspective of the timeless wisdom-traditions of the world. We are all like the biblical Prodigal Son; we are the beloved but lost children of the supreme zillionaire, God, who is not just a lakha-pati, karoda-pati, araba-pati, kharaba-pati, but is Lakshmi-pati, the Lord of the Goddess of Fortune, Lakshmidevi. In the Prodigal Son story, Jesus describes how the son of a wealthy father leaves home to enjoy independently, suffers due to starvation and destitution and finally returns home. Similarly, all of us, who are actually spirit souls, residents of thekingdomofGod, have left  our original home to try to enjoy in this material world. But here we are struggling for paltry material pleasures and are suffering multiple problems due to our disease-prone bodies, our conflict-prone interactions and our disaster-prone surroundings. In the biblical story, the joy of the father on the return of his lost son reflects the unconditional love of our Supreme Parent, who overlooks our past rejection of his love and who eagerly awaits our return. But God’s love, as revealed in the Vedic tradition, is even greater; he not only awaits our return, but also comes personally as the avatara (divine descent) to this world to invite us back. In fact, his loving anxiety for our well-being impels him to appear not just once, but again and again – and yet again. Indeed, he appears in every millennium to change our destiny, to reinstate us in our eternal glory as divine princes.

How does God,Krishna, change our destiny? Primarily by re-establishing dharma, the underlying, governing principle of life. The essence of all dharma is love or loving service, to be more precise.

Krishna’s illuminating teachings as given in the Gita explain what  love – real, everlasting love – actually is. And through his enchanting pastimes (lila) he demonstrates that love in his loving reciprocation with his devotees. These two legacies of divine love help us direct our loving propensity toKrishna– and through him to all his children – and thus experience complete fulfillment. Love for God ultimately conquers even death, for, unlike worldly love, it continues beyond death in the eternal spiritual world.  The great saint Srila Prabhupada offers a call to love, “If one simply reposes his dormant loving propensity in Krishna, then his life becomes successful. This is not a fiction but is a fact that can be realized by practical application. One can directly perceive the effects that love for Krishna has on his life.”

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