The Oar of Constancy

25th Nov 2004
Vaijayantimala devi dasi

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

One day King Akbar put on a disguise and rode through his capital to see how his subjects were doing. As he rode towards a gold mine near the outskirts of the city, he saw a man sifting sand by the side of the path. The King dismounted and asked, "My dear fellow, what are you doing?"

The man said, "This is not mere sand. There are gold particles mixed in here, so I sift the sand. When I find the gold particles, I sell them. This is my livelihood."

The King felt great pity for this man, who was working so hard for a few particles of gold that he might or might not find. While the King was still standing beside him, the man went back to his sifting, he was intent on his task.

When the man wasn't looking, the King removed one of his precious gold bracelets, threw it on the mound of sand, and rode away. The next day the King rode on the same path and he couldn't believe his eyes when he saw the man sifting as before. He said, "My dear fellow, I heard a rumour that yesterday you found a precious gold bracelet. You could sell it and take care of your family for the rest of your life. Why you are still here?"

The man smiled and said, "My dear sir, I do this work constantly. Because I do it constantly , yesterday my efforts bore fruits and I received a jewel studded bracelet. Who knows? If I keep at it, I may receive something that is worth even more. So I must be constant at this."

We have an important lesson from this story that if we stand firmly behind our principles and goals, then we are able to experience the fruits. The English word 'constant' is derived from the Latin word 'constare' which means "to stand firm".(And the suffix 'stare' in the latin word 'constare' comes from the sanskrit root 'sthira', which again means "to stand firm"). We all expect and appreciate this constancy in our daily lives. We expect this in our marital relationship, in our teacher -student relationship, so on and so forth. Someone who is married for, say, forty years, or an employee who is serving for more than twenty five years, automatically command our respect .We are delighted to see granthraj mails every day. Around us we see that the movement of the earth, the stars, the planets, rising of the Sun ,everything is in-built with constancy.What to speak of all this, our very survival depends on the regular pumping of blood by the heart and the constant coming in and going out of the simple breath.Absence of constancy or regularity makes people lose faith and confidence, leads to agitation, misunderstandings and thus leaves a trail of bad consequences. If constancy is so important materially, how much more so it should be spiritually?

We understand from the authorities and the scriptures that our existence at every moment is dependent on the Supreme mercy of Shri Krishna. His companionship in the form of Supersoul (Paramatma) is constant and His efforts and mercy to deliver us from this material mire is also constant. (alayāyaone who is incessantly trying to deliver us).

In the recent mail by HG Kalacakra Krishna das, "Swimming against the current", we saw the nectarean instructions of Maharaj. Maharaj can translate just one single word into the most beautiful teaching. This is possible because he is constantly reading the scriptures and living them day in and day out. Srila Narada muni says in Srimad Bhagavatam 1.6.34,

etad dhy ātura-cittānāṁ mātrā-sparśecchayā muhuḥ
bhava-sindhu-plavo dṛṣṭo hari-caryānuvarṇanam

It is personally experienced by me that those who are always full of cares and anxieties due to desiring contact of the senses with their objects can cross the ocean of nescience on a most suitable boat-the constant chanting of the transcendental activities of the Personality of Godhead.

This boat of devotional practices in the form of hearing and chanting will surely and steadily put us on the progressive spiritual path if the oar for rowing is one of constancy. There may be storms and strong winds in the form of our laziness, lack of faith, lack of discipline, complacency, unsuitable environment, difficulty in getting along with people, so on and so forth. But if we stick on to the boat and hold on to the oar of constancy, then the boat will move through all these changing tides leading us to our destination of love of Krishna. If we get rid of the oar of constancy, then there is every possibility of the current dragging us and gliding us away from the progressive path as we are swimming against the current of maya. That is why the scriptures recommend, "nityaṁ bhāgavata-sevayā" (regular attendance in Bhagavatam classes), "kīrtanīyaḥ sadā hariḥ" (chanting the Holy names of the Lord constantly).

The man in Akbar's story got a precious gold bracelet by his constant engagement. Krishna assures that He will give Himself if we are ready to pay the price, which is constant engagement in devotional activities. The beauty of this is that the devotional process is Absolute and our devotional engagement means we have already obtained Krishna, as there is no difference between the goal and the process and in this case there is no difference between the price and the product gained.Is there any other business transaction as easy and profitable as this, in this age where we are always cheated by the sellers not delivering us the products long after the price is paid? I pray at the lotus feet of my beloved Guru Maharaj to bless me with constancy in my devotional practices.

Yours in service of Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudev,
Vaijayantimala devi dasi
Abu Dhabi.