Lessons from Great Personalities - Part 1

Dear Prabhujis and Matajis,
Hare Krishna! Please accept my humble pranams! All glories to Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudev!

In our weekly congregational Mangala Arati program in Abu Dhabi, we are discussing the third canto of Srimad Bhagavatam. We have just finished up to the eighth chapter of third canto. Recently, HG Svayam Sphurati Krishna das prabhu took a wonderful class summarizing these eight chapters by highlighting the messages we can learn from the great personalities who are appearing in this canto up to the eighth chapter. Prabhuji said that we cannot even measure the depth of their qualities and he explained a few of the messages we can learn form them. I shall try to post some of the points from that wonderful lecture in this series. We shall learn the messages from the following great personalities.

1.Lord Sankarshana
2.The controlling deities of the physical elements
3.Lord Brahma
4.Shri Uddhava
5.Sage Maitreya
6.Vidura muni

1.Lord Sankarshana
Lord Sankarshana is the plenary expansion of the Supreme Lord Vasudeva and He is seated at the bottom of the universe. The Sanat kumaras inquired about the truths regarding Lord Vasudeva from Lord Sankarshana. At that time the four sages came from the highest planets down to the lower region through the water of the Ganges, Srimad Bhagavatam 3.8.4 tells us that the Lord was meditating upon Lord Vasudeva. But for the sake of the advancement of the great leaned sages, He slightly opened His eyes and began to speak the purport of Srimad Bhagavatam. Here we see that He gave up the unlimited pleasure He was getting from the meditation and started preaching to the sages. Thus we learn that when the opportunity for preaching comes, we should be very eager to take it up and thus serve the |Supreme Lord. Sometimes those who are in the leading positions in the congregations are so caught up with delegating the services that ultimately they are left with no service to do. This should never happen. Here we see that Lord Sankarshana considered preaching to the sages for the sake of their advancement more important than the personal pleasure He derives from meditation.

2.Controlling deities of the physical elements
The controlling deities of all the physical elements from the sky down to the earth are empowered expansions of Lord Vishnu and thus His parts and parcels. At the time of creation, when they were entrusted with different functions of universal duties, they were unable to perform them in the absence of directions from the Supreme Lord and they offered fascinating prayers to the Lord. There is a very wonderful payer in Srimad Bhagavatam 3.5.51 and we learn so many messages from this prayer about the mood of these controlling deities which we should try to imbibe.

tato vayaṁ mat-pramukhā yad-arthe
babhūvimātman karavāma kiṁ te
tvaṁ naḥ sva-cakṣuḥ paridehi śaktyā
deva kriyārthe yad-anugrahāṇām

O Supreme Self, please give us, who are created in the beginning from the mahat-tattva, the total cosmic energy, Your kind directions on how we shall act. Kindly award us Your perfect knowledge and potency so that we can render You service in the different departments of subsequent creation.

There are four aspects we can learn from the above prayer:

a) How can we serve You ?
In the above prayer, the first question they ask is 'How can we serve You?' karavāma kiṁ te. This should be our mood in serving the Lord, in serving our spiritual master and in serving all the devotees of the Lord. The problem is when somebody calls us Prabhu or master, we really think that we are masters and we get all the service done, forgetting the fact that our eternal position is to serve.

b) Taking directions from authority
The second thing the controlling deities ask is for the directions on how to act. They are expressing their inability to act without direction for execution of the order. So we have to ask ourselves whether we look at our Guru Maharaj and Krishna for directions to act or do we act according to our own whims and fancies.

c) Dovetailing our plan with the Personal plan of the Lord
The third thing they are asking is "What is you plan, O Lord?" sva-cakṣuḥ. When we look at ourselves, we are planning and concocting so many things and we never bother about Krishna’s plan. We should always ask the question whether my plan is supported by Krishna’s plan. Otherwise we are failures. We have to always dovetail our plan to Krishna’s plan.

d) Seeking knowledge and potency to execute the plan
The controlling deities are requesting the Lord to award them the knowledge and the potency so that they can render service to the Lord. We should always remember that even though we may independently desire so many things, fulfilling those desires depends on Krishna’s will. Srila Prabhupada very wonderfully writes in the purport:

"Therefore any living entity who desires a position in the material world may desire so in the service of the Lord and may seek power and intelligence from the Lord, as exemplified by the demigods in this particular verse. One cannot do anything unless he is enlightened and empowered by the Lord."

The lessons we learn from the other great personalities shall be posted in the subsequent mails, Krishna willing.

Thank you very much.
Yours in service of Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudev,
Vaijayantimala devi dasi
Abu Dhabi