by Vijay Krishna Kumar Das
Carrying out someone’s order can be the worst burden or the greatest pleasure in life or anything in between. The experience depends on our relationship with that person. If there is a relation of love, then carrying out the order brings about greatest pleasure even if it involves physical and mental troubles. If there is no love, then the order can be best executed with a sense of duty and obligation. Specifically, if we know that the person issuing the order is our greatest well-wisher, then that order must be executed, whatever may be the level of intimacy we have developed or not developed with Him. Who else is out best well-wisher other than the Supreme Lord Krsna.
Different living entities at different stages of life and consciousness are subjected to follow different scriptural injunctions. These injunctions constitute the orders of God. Without the help of God or His bona fide representative, it is difficult to ascertain which order is to be carried by whom and when. Some orders are personal to Him, some universal and some specific. Ultimately all of His different orders are meant to bring everyone close to His lotus feet.
Orders to Spread Devotion
The Supreme Lord has created this material world out of His compassion. He loves each and every living entity. He always accompanies them as Paramatma in their wanderings in various universes in different species of life. The sole purpose of creation is to reclaim the souls who have turned away from Him. For this purpose, He appears personally in this world and also engages His trusted devotees.
Most recently, He appeared as Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and gave an open order to all His followers to spread Krsna consciousness all over the world, in every village and every town.
prthivite ache yata nagaradi grama
sarvatra pracara haibe mora nama
[Caitanya Bhagavata Antya-khanda 4.126]
Srila Prabhupada says, “A devotee must carry out the order of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Caitanya Mahaprabhu said, yare dekha, tare kaha ‘krsna’-upadesa [CC Madhya 7.128]. Every devotee, therefore, should spread Krsna consciousness by preaching, asking whomever he meets to accept the order of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.” (SB 9.11.25 P)
These orders which are very personal to the Lord, are carried out by His confidential devotees who further empower others to execute it.
A Historical Unrest
There are other significant orders regarding the responsible duties expected to be carried out by the parents, teachers, kings and administrators. They hold an important part in the society as their lives, conduct and undertaking have an influence over those under their subordination. Basically, their lives structure the able working of society.
The Fifth Canto of Srimad Bhagavatam describes the story of Priyavrata, a disciple of sage Narada and son of Svayambhuva Manu. He desired to live a life of renunciation under the guidance of Narada Muni. But, Svayambhuva Manu desired to retire from his responsibility as a king and take up to renounced order of life so that he could practice devotional service without any distraction. As a result, the throne needed a capable king and Priyavrata remained the only competent heir to the throne.
Priyavrata, however, was not enthusiastic to accept power and get entangled in worldly life. He was instructed into bhakti, jnana, and vairagya by his guru, Narada Muni. At the same time, it was the pressing desire and need of Manu to retire from his kingship, after conscientiously carrying out all his kingly responsibilities for so long.
This is a disagreement of its own kind in history, wherein a son and father are in a state of unrest due to similar interest. The unrest is not for proprietorship but for renunciation. For both of them, renunciation and devotion were more important than worldly enjoyment and controllership. This temperament of both of them truly suits them for ruling the whole world. Such is the nature of rajarsis (saints amongst kings).
During this predicament, Lord Brahma appeared and conveyed that it is the order of the Supreme Lord that Priyavrata should rule the world. For Priyavrata, this order was unwelcoming as it was against his desire.
Purpose Defines the Order
Sometimes the all-powerful Lord issues orders that seem to be against the real benefit of someone. In such a case, the dilemma can be resolved only by knowing the grave purpose behind the orders. The Lord descends into this world for establishing righteous rule. His orders are intended for this purpose, though difficult to comprehend.
In this case, the world was in need of a sovereign. It was also the time of Manu’s retirement. To build a world, where the legacy of renunciation continues, was more important than the lone renunciation of one person. Although renunciation was important for Priyavrata, due to the need of the hour its formal external acceptance had become inappropriate because it was the Lord’s order. But its practical application in the form of using everything favorably for the Lord’s service never became immaterial.
Order Defines the Role
The Lord also wanted to upkeep the institution of varnasrama-dharma, according to which, the human society accepts various roles in this world. This is all ordained as per the karma of individual living entity. Everyone is bound firmly to actions according to the qualities one has acquired. This scientific arrangement is also His order and is universally applicable.
Lord Brahma gave the example of bulls tied by ropes in their nostrils. They move according to the direction of the driver. Similarly, all living entities are bound to the instructions of the Vedas, and if they move accordingly, their lives will progress in perfect paths.
Srila Prabhupada says that the injunctions in the Vedas are the explicit directions of the Supreme Lord. It is best, therefore, to accept and implement them. In accordance with those injunctions, the human society is divided scientifically according to varnas (four social orders) and asramas (four spiritual orders). Otherwise, if people move according to their own whimsical ideas, their lives will be spoiled by confusion and will end in despair. Srila Prabhupada writes, “If we do not live according to the injunctions of the sastras, the Vedas, we shall never achieve success in life, to say nothing of happiness or elevation to higher statuses of living.” (SB 5.1.14 P)
Don’t Find Fault With Him
Priyavrata was doubtful as to how can he not be affected by material energy while he executes the duties that awaited him. Also, Brahma thought that the proposal of accepting kingship might be intolerable to Priyavrata, who may think that how the Lord whom he worshipped with all his heart, can cast him into the ocean of samsara. So he felt merciful towards Priyavrata. He told him not to find fault with the Lord because He is beyond estimation and His actions are inconceivable. The Lord may quickly deliver a person whom he engages in actions in this world, and he may not quickly deliver another person who is in the forest. No one knows His activity. Considering this, do not hate Him and follow His order. (VCT 5.1.11)
The Lord is the well-wisher of all living entities. How can he do wrong to His devotees? A person with vision leading a blind man, will take him on a pathway full of the burning sun instead of taking him on a shady pathway filled with thorns. The man with sight is the well-wisher of the blind man. Knowing this, the blind man will never find fault with the man with a vision. Knowing this, the devotee with faith should certainly praise the Lord, who protects the devotee, although there would be the presence of some brief difficulty in the life of a devotee. (VCT 5.1.15)
Not Possible to Avoid
Lord Brahma had descended to break the stubbornness of his grandson. As a compassionate grandfather, he advised him that it is not possible to avoid the order of the Supreme Lord. Priyavrata might think that he could avoid the Lord’s order by dint of his austerities, knowledge and intelligence. In case he had to accept the throne, he might make someone a substitute representative. He may try to somehow dodge the impending difficulties by other pious acts or taking shelter of other’s strength or through one’s own. Lord Brahma however rightly advised him.
na tasya kascit tapasa vidyaya va
na yoga-viryena manisaya va
naivartha-dharmaih paratah svato va
krtam vihantum tanu-bhrd vibhuyat
“One cannot avoid the Lord’s order, by the strength of severe austerities, an exalted Vedic education, and power of mystic yoga, physical prowess or intellectual activities. Nor can one use his power of religion, his material opulence or any other means, either by himself or with the help of others, to defy the orders of the Supreme Lord.” (SB 5.1.12)
A Devotee’s Response: ‘Yes Sir’
For Svayambhuva Manu, the continuation of the legacy of the good rule was important. For Narada Muni, renunciation from worldly existence was important. Both of them had different suggestions for Priyavrata. But when the Supreme Lord’s order came through Brahma, both were satisfied and agreed without envying each other.
Who was wrong in guiding Priyavrata: Narada Muni or Svayambhuva Manu? The answer is no one. They both are authorities who always follow the order of the Supreme Lord. Sometimes the Lord may surprise even His devotees by giving an unconventional order. A devotee has no reservations or personal opinions independent of the Lord. The Lord’s opinion is the devotee’s opinion. A devotee knows that Lord is svarat, independent. A devotee adjusts to that. The svarat Lord may cause even bruises to his devotees like Priyavrata who will be in the future affected by maya. But then Narada Muni was now concerned with this specific order of the Lord. He had faith that Priyavrata was protected.
Priyavrata was a maha-bhagavata devotee of the Lord. He understood the gravity of the order which he had received. He was ready to carry out the order of his superior and grandfather, Lord Brahma, with great respect. Hence he immediately said, “Yes, sir. I shall carry out your order.”
Vijay Krishna Kumar Das is alumni of the Bhaktivedanta Vidyapitha (www.vidyapitha.in) . He also serve as Editor for a free monthly e-magzine called Bhagavata Pradipika.