Dhanurdhara Swami August 25th, 2008
srimati bhaktivedanta swamin iti namine
namaste sarasvati deve gaura vani pracarine
nirvesesa sunyavadi pascatya desatarine
Every moment we are confronted with choices. If we make bad ones we suffer. How to know what choices to make? The answer is sastra, the infallible guide on how to respond to the innumerable changing permutations of destiny that fate throws in our path.
Take the simple example of food. We have so many decisions everyday about how to respond to the permutations of taste, just one of the objects of the senses: What to eat? How to eat? When to eat? How to control oneself? The answer is found in sastra.
If we doubt how important such knowledge is, we need only look around and observe the relationship people have with food when they don’t have sound instruction. And even when someone has a healthy diet, they still may not properly relate to food without sastra, not knowing how essential it is to offer it to God in devotion.
And there are tougher choices: What to do in the face of the unavoidable whips of the world, such as disease or even death? Just see how terrified people are when they lack vision of life’s inevitable challenges and how to respond to them.
We need knowledge not only to understand how to react to destiny, but how to see God in the world, beyond the world, and ultimately to realize our relationship with Him. All such realizations are dependent on the guidance of sastra.
So my faith rests in sastra. I am not talking about being a scholar, but having firm trust in a source of reference that helps one know the proper utility of the objects and situations that destiny puts in ones path. In other words, by solid testimony (sastra) I’ve learned to interact for my temporal and eternal benefit with the myriad of objects and situations placed on my life’s journey.
Sure, I’ve sometimes made mistakes in understanding its meaning. And yes, some of its details don’t always neatly fit into my present frame of reference. But if I am honest and reflect on my life, and especially if I compare it to the life of those lacking such guidance, I’ve been indubitably blessed with the most profound and practical knowledge.
And how did I become fortunate? It is grace only! And that grace appeared to me in the form of a pure devotee who not only taught me sastra, but also lived it fully. I am thus indebted beyond words to Srila Prabhupada. What greater blessing than a vision of reality through one who has seen the truth?
Properly fitted glasses can perfect one’s distorted vision, but one can easily forget how much his sight is dependent on external means. Similarly we tend to forget how much of our world is visible only by the mercy of Srila Prabhupada who fitted us with the lens of sastra. Thus everyday, and especially on his Vyasa-puja, I reflect how much I am dependent on the grace of Srila Prabhupada through the words of Srila Narottama dasa Thakur:
“He opened my darkened eyes and filled my heart with transcendental knowledge.”
I pray never to forget his mercy.