Monday Morning Greetings 2023 #33 – Who Wants to Be a Billionaire?

August 14th, 2023

Do you?


On Śrī Nārada’s quest to find the topmost recipient of Śrī Krishna’s mercy, he is eventually directed by Lord Indra to see Lord Brahmā, and for good reason. Brahmā’s quantity and quality of service to Śrī Krishna is unfathomable. He acts as the secondary creator of this universe, is the dispenser of karma and appoints, empowers, and supervises all the demigods in the service of the Lord. Most importantly, on his planet, he facilitates the highest level of ritual worship in the universe for the Supreme Lord in the form of the many armed Mahāpuruṣa who resides there. When Śrī Nārada hears of the glories of Lord Brahmā from Lord Indra, he enthusiastically rushes to Lord Brahmā’s planet to see for himself. He is more than impressed with what he sees and profusely glorifies Lord Brahmā. Lord Brahmā, as a devotee, however, neither wants, accepts, nor even believes such laurels and thus counters Indra’s claims that having such a powerful position, even in the Lord’s service, is a sign of Śrī Krishna’s mercy:


“By the power of Krishna’s maya, I am always deluded by various conceits. I think myself the controller, grandfather, and spiritual master of the universe. Proud of my birth from Krishna’s lotus navel, I think myself a great ascetic, His great worshipper […]” (Bṛhad-bhāgavatāmṛta 1.2.60)


He further disses the conception that his power and position is an example of Krishna’s mercy by expressing his fears:


“[…] I live in terror of the all-devouring end of time. All I want for myself is liberation.” (Br.Bhag. 1.2.62)


In his purport, Gopīparāṇadhana Dāsa sums up Lord Brahmā’s reaction:


“According to Brahmā, being the Lord of all creatures in the universe is not the sign of Krishna’s favor. On the contrary, it is the cause of great trouble. His worldly responsibilities fill him with false pride and expose him to all kinds of anxiety.”


Brahmā is wealthier and more powerful than Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, and all the wealthy people of this world combined, and—it goes without saying—infinitely wiser and more devotional. But still, as Brahmā described above, the powerful all have one thing in common. To the extent that they became deluded by their various material designations based on their powerful position, and consequently increase their pride and identification with the temporary material body, is the degree to which they live in terror of losing it all at death. The Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam describes the mechanics of such illusion and suffering:


“Material life begins with turning away from God, which means turning away from our imperishable selves because what we are is in relationship to God, His Servant. God fulfills this desire not to be His devotee, by reflecting our consciousness on a particular body and simultaneously covering us with the illusion that we are the enjoyer and controller. Naturally, from this illusory and flickering designation arises duality and fear.”[1]


Don’t we see this play out every day with the abject misery of the rich and famous who become immersed in various conceits and thus live in confusion, anxiety, and fear? And don’t we see it every day in our lives to the extent that we want to enjoy and control rather than be God’s servant?


The Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam thus advises:


“Persons who are actually intelligent and philosophically inclined should endeavor only for that purposeful end[2] which is not obtainable even by wandering from the topmost planet [Brahmāloka] down to the lowest planet [Pātāla]. As far as happiness derived from sense enjoyment is concerned, it can be obtained automatically in course of time, just as in course of time we obtain miseries even though we do not desire them.” (Bhag. 1.5.18)


So, who wants to be a billionaire?



[1] I took liberty to substantially paraphrase SB 11.2.37. The original verse:  https://vedabase.io/en/library/sb/11/2/37/


[2] The purposeful end is going back to Godhead. Śrīla Prabhupāda’s purport explains why this, and not intense material endeavor, should be our goal: https://vedabase.io/en/library/sb/1/5/18/


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