The right utility of a particular object will depend on our knowledge of its value and the purpose of it. The same principle applies when we take up our life for analysis. As part of analysis we need to ask questions; do I really know the value of my life? Do I really know the purpose of my life? Without finding answers to these questions, there is no way we can utilize our life properly.
Value of life
Human form of life is not like an easily available commodity that you can drop into a super market, browse the items, pay for it and get it. It is available only after cycling through 840,000 species of life. Only in human form can a person inquire using his intelligence about the purpose of life. After having come so close to understanding spirituality, only an insane person will give away such a chance to again glide down into the cycle of lower species.
Purpose of life
After having known the value of human life, one may start increasing the comforts of life by putting full focus on fulfilling daily necessities of life and maximizing his duration of life. That way as a human one can walk with his head held high saying that he can eat delicious food, he can sleep comfortably on a cosy bed, he can come up with romantic ways of attracting and enjoying the opposite gender and he can use sophisticated weapons to defend himself. Just as one refers to the manual given by the manufacturer to use a sophisticated device, one has to refer to the manual given by the original manufacturer who has created this human form. Those manuals are Bhagavad Gita and Srimad Bhagavatam. Turning to the pages to Srimad Bhagavatam to find the purpose of life, one finds some shocking revelations
taravah kim na jivanti
bhastrah kim na svasanty uta
na khadanti na mehanti
kim grame pasavo ‘pare
“Do the trees not live? Do the bellows of the blacksmith not breathe? All around us, do the beasts not eat and discharge semen?(SB2.3.18)”
First shock is that how even some of the non-living being like bellows of blacksmith breathe, how living being with lower consciousness also engage in eating, sleeping, mating and defending. From this shock one comes to the revelation that humans must have some higher purpose of life. In his purport to this verse, Srila Prabhupada gives two more shocks. The second shock is that the solutions which the humans find to fix their problems of life in turn bring more problems. From this shock one comes to the revelation that there must be spiritual solutions for material problems. The final shock is that if the society is filled with “polished animals” then they won’t do much benefit to the society as animals only harm other animals and do no good. From this shock one comes to the revelation that one must come out of the animal propensity and also help out others, and most importantly choose the right person to lead the society. In the same purport Srila Prabhupada answers the question about the purpose of life. He says “Life is solely meant for tapasya, for purifying existence so that one may enter into eternal life just after the end of the human form of life”. Here the eternal aspect of one’s life is stressed. In another instance Srila Prabhupada answers the question by saying that human life is given to a living entity to become conscious of his spiritual identity and his permanent source of happiness (SB 2.3.17 purport). Here the knowledge and happiness aspect is stressed. Now that we know the purpose of life to achieve eternity, knowledge and bliss, how do we go about achieving that and properly utilize our life?
Proper utilization of life
Just like an expert doctor who not only reveals the true nature of the disease through diagnosis but also gives prescriptions to eradicate the disease, Srimad Bhagavatam gives detailed spiritual solutions to fix the ultimate problem of repeated birth and death.
ayur harati vai pumsam
udyann astam ca yann asau
tasyarte yat-ksano nita
Both by rising and by setting, the sun decreases the duration of life of everyone, except one who utilizes the time by discussing topics of the all-good Personality of Godhead (SB 2.3.17). The first step in proper utilization of life begins by hearing about the topics related to Sri Krsna who is glorified by select poetry.
One spends most of the time with his senses and his mind. Vaidhi bhakti which is a part of devotional service, gives proper engagement of different senses and the mind. As stated above the ears have to be engaged in hearing about Sri Krsna; after having sufficiently heard about the Lord, one naturally gets the inclination to chant the name of the Lord, this way the tongue is engaged. This chanting of Lord’s names must be done with concentration. The eyes must be engaged in looking at Lord’s form and His representations. Nose must be engaged in smelling Tulasi leaves, garlands and scented oil offered to Lord. Hands must be engaged in serving the Lord which includes cooking for the Lord, cleaning and decorating Lord’s temple, making garlands, playing musical instruments. Legs must be engaged by visiting Lord’s holy places and dancing for the pleasure of Lord in kirtans. While entering holy places and temple, one has to pay obeisances by bowing down one’s head and lay flat in the ground. One has to take the dust from the lotus feet of Lord’s devotees on his head. This way one gives up one’s pride. By the systematic engagement of the senses, Vaidhi bhakti aims towards the final purpose of proper engagement of one’s mind which results in change of one’s heart. By properly using one’s senses and mind with which we spend most of our time, one realizes the value of life, one’s entire life gets a valid purpose and thus one utilizes one’s life properly.
The following article is an answer to the Open Book Exam (Canto 2), by Adi Purusha Das, to the question:“Describe the right utility of one’s life based on the contents of the first five chapters of SB canto 2, especially 2.1.13 and 2.3.17-24”