Srimad Bhagavatam Canto 11 | Lord Krishna leaving Earth | Purpose of Rituals

Purpose of Rituals

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From the Srimad Bhagavatham Canto 11: Chapter 6

The Gods Visit Sri Krishna

It was the time when Supreme Lord Sri Krishna was about to leave the earthly plane. He was to go to Prabhas from where His ascension to the perfect planetary system Vaikuntha, was to begin. The gods felt that other than the Supreme Lord of Vaikuntha, Sri Krishna there was no one who could release the living entity from the shackles of Maya Devi, the presiding deity of cosmic illusion. The Supreme Lord is immersed in His being at all times completely satisfied and remains thus, in His natural state.

Recommended rituals may not have an effect

Here the gods talk about the effects of worship. Worship or following rituals have no effect on individuals who engage themselves in such acts, when they do not intend to bring about any change in themselves and perform these rituals only as an act of duty or as part of tradition. Rituals can never bring about change in such individuals. Even, there is no purification of mind to any degree that can be brought about, when such individuals engage themselves in acts of charity, study of scriptures, recitation of mantras, austerities or even a range of ritualistic acts where it has been categorically promised that these acts can transform individuals. One needs to understand that there are certain intrinsic conditions that need to be fulfilled for scriptures, rituals, austerities and acts of charity to bring about any kind of transformation in an individual. Unless these conditions are completely satisfied, nothing can bring about an iota of change in any individual who may be even recognized by society as an apparently pious or religious man through his superficial external sensory actions.

What can transform an Individual?

A pure-minded follower of Truth is created when the individual listens to the glories of the Lord with faith and supplication. A practitioner of recommended rituals first needs to let go of all those things that he is holding in his heart and earnestly desires to be relieved from them. He should be raising his arms in surrender to the Lord through hearing the glories of the Lord with intent of purification. He has to trust the scriptures and surrender himself to the rituals and activities that relate to the Supreme Being. This is the first and foremost, the very preliminary condition to effect transformation in individuals. Only when this condition is accepted and wholly satisfied can the journey even begin. Now, how this condition is satisfied, is very subjective and depends on Grace and the will of the Supreme Being. No one can be forcibly induced or engaged with any amount of action or activity to bring about changes in their demeanor so that they are spiritualized. This only happens when surrender and humility were to occupy the hearts of men who intend to become purified well before the journey actually begins.

Prayers of the gods to Sri Krishna.

Before the Lord left for Prabhas the gods, who represent the many million sensibilities that animate the living entities, praised the Lord. They prayed thus “Your feet serve as the sacrificial fire which consumes the dross of all unholy cravings of mankind. If man, simply accepted you as his sole friend and surrendered himself to your lotus feet, your feet will immediately burn to ashes even the last traces of unholy desires and intentions of such a surrendered soul. There is no limit for your kindness. All evil tendencies would come to an end even if man were to remember you and prayed to you in complete supplication. It is that easy for men to get transformed and yet people are adamant to continue their vile ways and that is their irreconcilable tragedy. Oh Lord, you are even the master of Purusha and Prakriti about which the Samkhya Yogis extoll in philosophical terms. There can be no Purusha or Prakriti without your will. You are the one who directs Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva who are responsible for management and direction of the Creation process. You are also Kala, the Supreme Aspect of Time. Without you there would be no concept of Time and without time, there can be no existence or continuity. You are the purifier of the senses and hence you are called Hrishikesha or under whom the senses function. You are the ultimate purifier of the senses which includes the mind. The streams of your glories and your stories as described in the Puranas are like the waters of Ganga. Anyone who, with faith, with the intention of purifying himself engages in the loving hearing of your pastimes will have all his sins and misapprehension washed away. The pastimes of the Lord is the sweet nectar that grants purity and immortality to the listener, provided the listener consumes and drinks this nectar through his ears with the intention of drowning his sullied self into the ambrosia of those pastimes. The pastimes have an effect to the proportion of faith and greed towards hearing these pastimes on the part of the listener.” After having praised the Lord in so many ways the gods entreated the Supreme Lord to proceed towards Prabhas for His final journey.

Prayers of Uddhava

Meanwhile, Uddhava, the Lord’s advisor and minister who stayed by the side of the Lord for 103 years out of the Lord’s 125 years of earthly journey had words of intense love for the Lord. Uddhava said “The chanting and hearing of you holy names immediately makes one sacred. About this there is no doubt. I cannot bear to be separated from you for even half-a-second, O Ruler of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Kindly take me as well to your divine realm. I only intend to be by your side for endless time. Having enjoyed the stories of your extraordinary pastimes, which is auspicious to hear and nectar to the ear, people give-up the craving for everything else. They are only addicted then, to your honey-like sweet names. How then, could we do without you?, our beloved Lord, our very self, we, who have constantly waited on you, while You lay on bed and always sat or stood beside you. We have even bathed in your company, we have sport and dined in your company for all these years. We are your eternal loving servants, who have been adorned with garments, garlands, sandal-paste, raiment, ornaments which you have used and given up for our satisfaction. We have lovingly and with great greed partaken your food-remnants. As such your Maya stands before us conquered and helpless. We can never be afraid of Maya but separation from you is unbearable. O Supreme, Yogi, My Lord Krishna, even though we are revolving within the alleys of Karma, we shall easily surpass all that, simply by earnestly listening to the talks delivered about you by your pure devotees. These Pure devotees are reveling in your smiles, side-long glances, laughter, gait, jokes and all that you did imitating fallen human beings like me and others who pine for your company.