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Among the devotees, there is a common belief, God is the supreme and nothing is equal to Him or higher than Him. Lord Krishna says so in BG 7.7 "There is no truth superior to Me."
However if you analyze deeply, you will find a few contradictions in the above statements. See the below cases:
1. Yashoda mayi caught hold of Krishna and tied Him. Can you imagine, the Supreme God whom many powerful demons also failed to harm, getting bound? Or take another example, Arjuna managed to make Lord Krishna His charioteer. Just imagine the PM or President of any country becoming driver of a person! This is just not possible. But the Supreme Lord becomes the driver of His best friend. Lord Vishnu says to Durvasha muni "I am completely under the control of My devotees. Indeed, I am not at all independent." [SB 9.4.63]. So from these examples we come to know the true devotees of God are in way more powerful the Lord Himself though none of these devotees actually want to rule the Lord.
There are 4 stages of devotions (in ascending order):
i) Servant of Master
ii) Slave of Master
iii) Puppet in the hand of the Master
iv) Puppet becomes the Master and Master becomes the puppet
Take the case of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu who was none other than Krishna Himself. The hidden reason for His arrival was to know the taste of pure devotion which was known to Srimati Radharani but not to Krishna also.
So we should slowly try to elevate ourselves to the last stage where the Lord would become inferior to us.
2. Lord Rama needed a bridge to cross the ocean. But Hanuman crosses the same just by chanting Lord Rama's name. How was it possible? Once Lord Rama was angry with Humanun and wanted to punish him. Then Narada advised Hanumana to chant Lord Rama's name. Then when Lord Rama shot arrows at Hanuman, Rama's arrows were totally futile against Hanuman. The reason is simple: Lord's name is greater than the Lord Himself.
So we should take the shelter of the Holy name of the Lord which can protect us from all the dangers in the world.
Many times, the monists say we should become one with God. But through pure devotion, we can in fact become greater than God though even in the highest devotional stage also our serving attitude won't go.
Hare Krsna Prabhuji,
God is supreme. He makes His devotee supreme, that is His wish, His greatness. That doesnt mean devotee should aim to become greater than God.
Its like a child wanting to become taller than the father. The father lifts the child and artificially raises him above his head. Does that mean that the child is taller than the father (at that moment). It is as simple and childish as that.
To answer your analysis regarding Yashoda maiya tying Krsna to the grinding mortar, the lord has made HIs devotee greater than Himself. He agreed to be bound, He was fearful, when fear comes from Him, that is the reason we celebrate the Damodar pastime for a month. Have you ever seen commemorating the day Putana, or Aghasura, or Bakasua, or even Kaliya, Trinavarta, even Kamsa were delivered? No na. Then what is special about this pastime - the special thing is - Krsna was bound by the love of His devotee, nothing else could bind Him. There are much deeper analysis of this pastime, which various acharyas have mentioned in their commentaries, which I am not mentioning here.
In the Durvasa Muni - Ambarish Maharaj pastime, the lord has brought out the serious consequence of vaishnav aparadha. If one has committed a sin against a vaishnava, then one has to necessarily go to that vaishnava and beg forgiveness. Wouldnt it be much easier for all of us to go to Krsna and ask for forgiveness for all the vaishnava aparadhs we commit. "No need to say sorry, Krsna understands my circumstances and of course, I have asked for forgiveness from Krsna, so I can continue to be hostile/ cold towards that devotee." This facility is not there. One has to bite dust, become humble, beg for forgiveness, else give up Krsna. That is how serious this aparadha is. THis is brought out in this pastime.
I would like to redo the stages you have mentioned as under:
1) Puppet of maya, having very good opinion of oneself, thinking himself lord and master of all he surveys, yet slave of every single desire that arises in the heart, wants to fulfill each one of them, enjoy to the fullest, blame everyone else all the time for the things that go wrong, or are not in order.
2) Slight awakening of consciousness - understands that there is more to life than eating, sleeping, mating and defending. Starts with basic faith, starts chanting - the 9 stages of devotion begin...
Such a person, the more he progresses, the less good opinion he has about himself, the more he realises the greatness of the lord, the more he wants to spend time doing devotional service.
I will discuss the rest later, the post is becoming too long.
Radha Rasamayi DD
Npw coming to Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. The lord came in the form of His devotee to show what an ideal devotee is, to establish Harinaam as the way out of this material world, to taste what Radharani got by living in separation from the lord for so many years (more than 100), yet not giving up the lord even once, the intensity of separation increased, did not decrease over the years. The lord was curious to taste what nectar she got in the fire of separation. When a devotee cries for the lord in separation, is when he attains love of God. Yugayitam nimeshena... when we feel that only we can call ourselves devotees of the lord. Nayana Jamuna jhare anivaara, tomara virahe Giridhari... how many of us have shed tears in separation of Krsna, and how many times? How can we call ourselves devotees? There are so many shades/ layers to this prabhu, you will understand if you are in the association of devotees.
Lord Ram crossing ocean by building setu, while Hanuman could cross the ocean in one leap. Lord Ram is maryada purushottam, not once He breached the maryada of playing the role of a human being. He was in the role of a human being, can any human being cross the ocean in one leap? Suppose He did cross the ocean in one leap and got back Sita on "return flight", then wont people say, He is God, He can do anything - what is so great about it. For that matter, howcome Ram didnt know where SIta was, or that it was Marica, not a golden deer? These are pastimes, enacted for a purpose. We have to understand the purpose, not belittle God for playing a role.
So we should take the shelter of the Holy name of the Lord which can protect us from all the dangers in the world. Your net conclusion is correct. The reasoning I am giving as per my limited knowledge.
Please ask if there are further doubts or you have any comments.
Radha Rasamayi DD
Regarding the points you mentioned about the love in separation, I totally agree. Had it not been the mercy of Guru and Gauranga, we could have never appreciated this love form. However we are too far away from this stage. But once we attain such level which the exalted devotees showed, then Lord will be rating us also higher though that should NOT be our mood. I totally agree with you that we should not aim for ruling the Lord. That is why I also had mentioned in my post " though none of these devotees actually want to rule the Lord".
Coming to Maryada Purushottama, Lord Ramachandra. There were occasions where He did display His majestic power forgetting the maryada. For example, Sugriva wanted to witness Lord Rama's might to gain the confidence on Him for killing Vali. Lord Rama then touched the mountain like skeleton of Dundhuvi with just His toe and gave a push which flew the skeleton away to 10 yojanas. Isn't it displaying the supreme might? Then before constructing the bridge across the ocean, Lord Rama prayed Samudra deva for 3 days to appear before Him but the latter didn't come. Then Lord Rama became furious and raised His eye brows. That anger started boiling the whole ocean and all the creatures in the ocean got scared. Also note the bow of Lord Siva, which was too have for hundreds of combined people to lift, was easily lifted by Lord Rama alone. Not just that He even broke that. So we should never think that Lord Rama didn't display His majesty at all.The main reason for going to the war with a big army of monkeys, was to provide the monkeys the chance to serve Him. Else He alone was sufficient to wipe whole Lanka out as He is the Supreme God Himself.
Do you agree with this?
But yes, unlike Lord Krishna, Lord Rama didn't display His majestic powers that often. That is why Lord Krishna is known as Leela Purushottama.
Hare Krsna Prabhuji,
Regarding Ram Leela, I would like to give you a perspective of some of the pastimes mentioned by you.
Lord Ram could break the Shiv dhanush, the bow of Lord Shiva, at the time of the swayamvar, whereas all the present kings could not. One of the lessons in this is - all the kings tried to lift the divya dhanush (celestial bow) with their might, thats why they were unsuccessful, whereas Lord Ram lifted the bow with his humility. He first bowed down to the bow, prayed to Lord Shiva and then only attempted to lift it. This condition was put by King Janaka because Sita devi could lift the bow, so her husband has to be deserving man, so he also should be able to lift the bow. This pastime demonstrates also that Sita was not ordinary, so her devotee father understood, and put that condition. Fathers should understand their daughter's need and give her to a person she deserves, or would like as husband, rather than imposing his will on the daughter. As you know, in ancient times, (even now it is there), girls were not allowed to freely mix with boys and choose their prospective husband. It was the father's responsibility. The duty of a father to find a suitable boy for girl was exemplified by King Janaka in this pastime and that humility can break barriers that might and pride cannot, is exemplified by Lord Ram. Again, another aspect of Maryada Purushottam in this pastime. The breaking of the bow was to break the pride of Parasuram, as you may know.
Regarding praying to Sea God to help in building the bridge, that is also a mundane act - if He was trying to show He is God, what was the need to pray. Did He not know what benediction Nal and Neel had? There are some versions of the scripture which state that He raised His bow on the sea in anger, when the water became turbulent and Sea God appeared, praying to the lord. This again shows - bhaya binu hoye na priti - there is no love without fear. This pastime indicates that for some people, one has to instill fear to make them follow the rules laid down in the scriptures. This is the initial stage, when one follows rules out of fear, then as a duty and finally out of love. At every stage, the lord is glorifying His devotee. Here, Nal and Neel became glorified for all times to come, by this pastime. Do we even know the names of all the monkeys in the army, but we know and remember the names of Nal & Neel.
Regarding Sugriva, there are a lot of pastimes. Lord Ram displayed His human part by making Sugriva wear a garland at the time of fight, so as to distinguish between Sugriva and Bali. It is mentioned in scriptures that after Sugriva got back his kingdom and wife, he forgot his promise and disappeared for some months. He had to be reminded of his promise. Lord waited patiently, another quality of Maryada Purushottam.
Radha Rasamayi DD
Hare Krishna mataji,
I have a few justification regarding the below points:
1. Lord Rama paid His obeisance to Siva's bow. That is because that bow is not an ordinary one. It was Lord Shiva's bow who is a very dignified person. Even Lord Krishna washed the feet of Narada when the latter came to meet the former in Dwarika even though Narada is a servant of Krishna. Such acts are should be performed by all that is why Lord Rama and Lord Krishna set the examples even though Their pastimes were contrasting.
2. Lord Rama prayed to Samudra deva despite being the God. Yes this act was His maryada purushottama act. But His act of boiling the sea water just by raising His eye brows can't be done by any ordinary person. Through this act, He showed the proof to all that He is not an ordinary man. He has got tremendous potentials beyond common man.
3. Regarding Rama giving Sugriva a garland to distinguish from Vali, this can be viewed from another angle. Here Lord conveyed the message "Be My friend, then I myself will pay respect to you by offering My garland". But Lord Rama kicking the mountain like skeletons of Dunduvi sevelal yojanas away definitely doesn't come under the act of Maryada purushottam.
In fact all the incarnations of Lord gave the proofs through which we can identify They are God, not ordinary beings. All the incarnations sent out the messages that "Without seeing the proofs, don't act anyone God". Srila Prabhupada always demanded proofs from the self proclaimed Gods citing the above incidents displayed by different incarnations of Lord Vishnu.
Devotional service of a person who does not expect anything in return consider to be pure and its most pleasing for Lord, but those who desire something in return are no better then traders.
Impersonal Brahman is not different from the supreme Lord, therefore one should not be offensive to those on impersonal path, because becoming the offender of the same Absolute Truth, God. :
SB 4.9.16 — My dear Lord, in Your impersonal manifestation of Brahman there are always two opposing elements — knowledge and ignorance. Your multi-energies are continually manifest, but the impersonal Brahman, which is undivided, original, changeless, unlimited and blissful, is the cause of the material manifestation. Because You are the same impersonal Brahman, I offer my respectful obeisances unto You.