Value of Human Life and Association of Devotees

Hare Krishna Prabhujis and Matajis,
Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudeva.

Recently I came across a nice story when I was reading Srila Prabhupada lecture on six Goswamis - Sri Sri Sad-govamy-ashtaka in Los Angeles, November 18, 1968

'One saintly person was giving his blessings to different kinds of persons. So he first of all saw one boy, he was a prince, son of a king. So he blessed him, "raja-putra" - "My dear prince,"ciram jiva, " - you live forever. Then he saw one brahmacari, a disciple of a spiritual master, he said, ma jiva muni-putraka: "Oh, you are the disciple of a saintly person. You do not live. You die immediately." Then there was a saintly person, and he offered his blessings to the saintly person, jiva va mara va sadhoh. Sadhoh means saintly person, sadhu. "My dear saintly person, either you live or you die as you like. And there was a butcher. He told for the butcher, ma jiva ma mara iti: "You neither live nor die." So what is the significance of these four kinds of blessings?

The significance is that he blessed the raja-putra, royal prince, to live forever because whatever enjoyment he's having, this is for this life. Next life is very horrible for him, next life. Just like generally in the opulent countries like America and other European countries, they are materially very opulent, they do not care for anything. They do anything, whatever they like, because they are very much proud of their material opulence. But they do not care what they are going to be next life, you see. Therefore so long they live, that is good for them. As soon as they die, they are going to the darkest region of the hell. Therefore the prince, the king's son, was blessed, "You live forever," and so far the brahmacari, brahmacari or the son of a muni, he is undergoing penance, austerities, fasting, not very comfortable life. So he was blessed that "You die immediately." Because by his pious activities he has elevated himself so high that as soon as he dies, he goes to Vaikuntha, kingdom of God.

Therefore the sooner he dies is better. So muni-putra, ma jiva muni-putraka. And so far saintly person, sadhu, he said, jiva va mara va. A saintly person, "Either you live or die, the same thing. Because you are serving Krishna in this life, and as soon as you die, you will serve Krishna directly. So it is all the same." And so far the butcher is concerned, he said, ma jiva ma mara: "You don't die, don't live." "Don't live" means, "You are living in such a wretched condition, killing every day. Horrible life. Your living is horrible, and if you die, you are going to the darkest region of the hellish condition. So both life, living or dying, it is very horrible for you. So you don't live, don't die." So that is the blessing to the butcher, "Don't live, don't die." Living condition is also horrible, and after death it is also horrible. But unfortunately, every one of us is committing butchery without understanding self-realization, what is self, "What I am."

Therefore Vedanta-sutra says, "Try to understand yourself." Athato brahma jijnasa. This human form of life is meant for searching out, understanding, inquiring, about Brahman. We are all Brahmans. Because we are part and parcel of the Supreme Brahman, therefore we are all Brahman. So if we do not inquire what is Brahman, then that is suicide. In the human form of life, if you do not make inquiries what is brahma, athato brahma jijnasa... Jijnasa means inquiry. This is the first aphorism in the Vedanta-sutra, that atha. Atha means thus. Atah, atah means hereafter. "Hereafter" means that we have passed through 8,400,000 of species of life; now we have got civilized form of human body; now it is the time to inquire what I am, what is God, what is my relationship with God

This reminded me of the following nice verse told by HG Sajjanapriya Prabhuji during mangala arati class. In Srimad Bhagavatam -11.9.29 the avadhuta brahamana while emphasizing the importance of human birth and need for doing bhakti from the beginning says

labdhvā su-durlabham idaṁ bahu-sambhavānte
mānuṣyam artha-dam anityam apīha dhīraḥ
tūrṇaṁ yateta na pated anu-mṛtyu yāvan
niḥśreyasāya viṣayaḥ khalu sarvataḥ syāt

After many, many births and deaths one achieves the rare human form of life, which, although temporary, affords one the opportunity to attain the highest perfection. Thus a sober human being should quickly endeavor for the ultimate perfection of life as long as his body, which is always subject to death, has not fallen down and died. After all, sense gratification is available even in the most abominable species of life, whereas Krishna consciousness is possible only for a human being.

From the above verse we understand how rare is this human birth. In this human birth to associate with other living entities in a cordial manner is also rare. And that too to associate with pure devotees of the Lord is all the more rare. So when we associate with devotees, we should be very grateful and thankful to the Lord for the wonderful opportunity and earnestly learn from such great souls, the way to perform bhakti and make the best use of this human form of life. HG Svayam Sphurathy Prabhu in one of his recent lectures quoted a nice verse from Srimad Bhagavatam 4.24.58 - to emphasize the importance of association of devotees. While offering prayers to Lord Krishna, Lord Shiva says

athānaghāṅghres tava kīrti-tīrthayor
antar-bahiḥ-snāna-vidhūta-pāpmanām
bhūteṣv anukrośa-susattva-śīlināṁ
syāt saṅgamo ’nugraha eṣa nas tava

My dear Lord, Your lotus feet are the cause of all auspicious things and the destroyer of all the contamination of sin. I therefore beg Your Lordship to bless me by the association of Your devotees, who are completely purified by worshiping Your lotus feet and who are so merciful upon the conditioned souls. I think that Your real benediction will be to allow me to associate with such devotees.

In his wonderful purport to the above verse Srila Prabhupada devotees of the Lord to Ganges river. Ganges is able to eradicate our sinful reactions as it is emanating from the lotus feet of the Lord. Similarly devotees who are surrendered to the lotus feet of Lord are capable of purifying the souls who come in touch with them.

As per our Guru Maharaj's practical instructions we shall continue to do devotional Service, chanting, reading of Bhagavatam and Bhagavad gita and associate with devotees. Then our life will be completely blissful even in this material world and we will achieve complete perfection in our goal of life- going back to God head. I am not qualified and also not intelligent to write however by mercy of Lord Krishna got a minute intelligence to write my understanding. I seek blessings of all Vaishnavas so that I remember the value of human birth and association of devotees and make the best use of the same.

Thank you very much.
Yours in service of Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudev,
Suresh Gajendran
Abu Dhabi.