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Vows, Weird News and the Real World

By: on April 22, 2010
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No laddus for thieves in this world.
On April 15th the devotees of Lord Krishna world-wide began the celebration of a very special time, the month of Purushottama Adhik Mas. Purushottama is a name for Lord Krishna that means the topmost person. Adhik means extra and mas means month. To help the lunar months coincide with the solar year, this extra month is inserted into the lunar calendar every 2 ½ years. Devotees of Lord Krishna look forward to passing this month in devotion to the Lord by spending extra time listening to Lord Krishna’s pastimes, chanting His Holy Names, bathing in holy rivers, and giving charity to temples.

Although I’m generally reluctant to take vows, at the suggestion of a friend, I developed a desire to increase my devotion during Purushottama Adhik Mas by reading at least one chapter of Bhagavad-gita daily. My friend suggested Chapter 15 which is entitled Purushottama-yoga, the Yoga of the Supreme Person. As I sat down to read that first evening, I had no idea how quickly the fruits of my devotion would be realized.

Chapter 15 of Bhagavad-gita begins with an allegorical description of this material world:

The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: It is said that there is an imperishable
banyan tree that has its roots upward and its branches down and whose leaves are
the Vedic hymns. One who knows this tree is the knower of the Vedas. The
branches of this tree extend downward and upward, nourished by the three modes
of material nature. The twigs are the objects of the senses. This tree also has roots
going down, and these are bound to the fruitive actions of human society.

Srila Prabhupada explains that this tree of the material world is only a reflection of the real tree of the spiritual world. Yet being a reflection of the real tree, as an exact replica, everything that is in the spiritual world is also found in this material world, but in a perverted form.

Perversion is one thing there seems to be plenty of in this material world, and if your own experience isn’t enough to convince you, just glance over any news website; the news wire services are pretty good at finding weird news stories to satisfy the curious. MSNBC, which claims to have “the strangest news and oddest videos from across the country and around the world” ran a report from Associated Press on April 15th about a burglary suspect who got stuck in the ventilation duct of a convenience store he was apparently attempting to rob. When the store owner came in the next morning to open his store, he was startled by a pair of feet dangling from the duct. When the police arrived, they freed the suspect and arrested him. The suspect told police he had been playing hide and seek with some friends on the roof of the building and got stuck attempting to hide from the others.

Yeah. I’m sure that story will go a long way with the judge.

Nevertheless, that’s not the end of the strange happenings in connection with this story. The very same morning the burglar was caught, I was listening to a recording of Lord Krishna’s pastimes in Vrindavan. The narrator was saying how, as a child, Krishna would engage in stealing. Indeed, he explained, another name for Krishna is Makhanchora, the butter thief. The narrator went on to explain that once Krishna and his playmates broke into a storehouse filled with milk products. The neighborhood ladies who knew of Krishna’s mischief heard the boys in the storehouse and quickly locked the door to bar escape. Hearing the door lock, Krishna knew He was caught and He immediately started to look for a way out. He spotted a window high up on one of the walls and ordered all the boys to quickly scale the wall and exit through the window. All of them escaped, except for the brahmana boy named Madhumangala. Madhumangala was a so chubby from eating sweets that although his head and shoulders got through the window, he got stuck at the belly. By the time the ladies became aware of the escape and opened the door, all they saw was a pair of feet dangling from the window. The ladies apprehended Madhumangala and began to punish him. But, at the request of Krishna, the ladies not only freed Madhumangala, but to please Krishna they fed the brahmana boy an unlimited quantity of sweets.

I could hardly believe my ears! Here was a perfect illustration of how the material world is a perverted reflection of the spiritual world.

I doubt that the hide-and-seek-playing burglar will get sweets for his adventure, and he probably doesn’t expect any. This material world is a perverted reflection where motives and consequences are never conducive to a happy ending. Loss, pain, and suffering are the norm here, whereas in the spiritual world, it’s just the opposite. There is no loss, pain, or suffering there because all behavior is motivated by and results in an exchange of love with Krishna. Krishna's fame as a butter thief is not reproachable, for by stealing butter He gives pleasure to His pure devotees.

All in all, it was quite an eventful first day of Purushottama Adhik Mas for me. Krishna reciprocated right away with my vow to read about him with a humorous example to explain the first verses of Chapter 15 of the Bhagavad-gita. Who knew that Purushottam Adhik Mas could be so powerful or that vows could be so enjoyable?
[ bhagavad-gita ]