Monday Morning Greetings 2019 #1 – Let God Do It!

January 7th, 2019

“Bhagavan will take care!” I didn’t like his answer.


His father was quite ill, but he never even visited him once. I asked why. This young man based in Hṛṣīkeśa was a kind of a sādhu, or at least an aspiring one, but not a serious sādhaka or tapasvī by any means. He could easily go to visit. His father lived only four hours away from Hṛṣīkeśa, so I pressed him just a bit further. He pawned off the excuse in a mumbled defensive tone that Bhagavan will take care, or something like that. I could see he felt uncomfortable by my inquiry and was leaving to go back to Hṛṣīkeśa, so I dropped the matter. But his answer, putting it on God, just didn’t sit well with me.


Of course, there are always existential questions about free will and agency, to what extent the living being is the doer, but factually all of that is irrelevant here. Regardless of what God can or cannot do, He has made this world to help us awaken our eternal self. One of the main ways He does this is by assigning us various roles and duties according to our present nature and the circumstances in which we find ourselves. Without preliminarily transcending the “selfish me” by adhering to such dharma, what is the question of entering pure devotional service, which is selfless service to God?


This may be an unusual reference to rally against those who prematurely shun dharma, but I really like how the famous American satirist Tom Wolfe couched such social irresponsibility in his article “The Me Generation”. He debunks the hippie and new age narcissism of my generation, the prosperous baby boomers, with the phrase, “They will never understand duty above self.” Similarly, waving the “I am sādhu” transcendence card in the face of responsibility is just a ruse for lazy people pawning off their duties out of ignorance. It certainly isn’t the core philosophy of the Bhagavad-gītā.


If Krishna thought that being “not the doer” meant that we really don’t have to do anything because He Himself is the doer, then Krishna certainly would have never urged Arjuna to fight on the battlefield. Not only is being attentive to our duties in the world not inconsistent with realizing our deep self in relationship with God, but it is in many ways the vehicle to do it, regardless if the results are up to God or not. I like how Krishna puts it in chapter 2 verse 47 of Bhagavad-gītā:


“You have a right to perform your prescribed duty, but you are not entitled to the fruits of action. Never consider yourself to be the cause of the results of your activities, and never be attached to not doing your duty.”


Let me paraphrase the relevant points in Krishna’s message here in relation to our thesis “you should do your duty, although what happens, the result, is My will.” This type of prescription of duty for the sake of duty itself is just like a parent who is ever so capable of doing something quickly and efficiently, but still gives those tasks to his very young children to teach them character and their place within the family.


While writing this I couldn’t help but remember a contrasting example to my young friend’s shunning his duty. When Keśava Bhāratī Goswami’s mother fell ill with terminal cancer and there was absolutely no living relative to help her, he didn’t appeal to Krishna as the doer to care for her. He carefully considered the circumstance in consultation with others and concluded that it was his duty to care for her, although he had left home so many years before and as a sannyāsi had minimal contact with his family. Although it was quite an arduous sacrifice for him, by not shunning his responsibility he not only helped her, as among other things she became a devotee due to his visit, but I’m sure his sacrifice and selflessness reaped internal rewards so essential for developing the heart of a devotee.


Of course, if parents are overtly inimical to our path, or one is that rare soul that is called by God for a higher purpose and is not a cheater, we may in some circumstances not have such duties. That’s not the point. The point is that we should never avoid our duties, whatever they are, with the scam and philosophical dishonesty that Krishna will do them. It’s a failure of Krishna conscious understanding 101.


It is interesting to note that even when the six Gosvāmīs renounced the world out of compassion for the spiritually poor, they did not just leave it to God to take care of their families. They first carefully divided up their assets appropriately to meet family and social responsibilities. Even after Śrī Caitanya took sannyāsa, He lived in Purī on His mother’s wish out of obligation to her.


Wait a second. Doesn’t Krishna say in the Bhagavad-gītā to renounce all dharma and surrender unto Me? Of course, the highest duty is to surrender to God, and in the rare circumstance when that conflicts with a social duty, the social duty can be transcended. But also note that after Arjuna surrendered to Krishna, Krishna still asked him not to renounce his duties, but to fight in the spirit of one’s highest consciousness and eternal duty, surrendering unto Him.


Sorry, I have to go now. Although it’s the morning here in Māyāpur, it’s New Year’s Eve in New York. I need to call to wish my 97 year-old mother the best for the New Year. And to all my friends who are faithful readers: All the best to you for the New Year, which is also the third anniversary of Monday Morning Greetings. I am indebted to you all as readers. Thank you.



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