Whenever I meet any of my friend’s mothers, I usually address them as “aunty” out of due respect. I have been told by many of them to not call them aunty, as they feel old when I address them in that manner. I have been requested many times to just address them by their name. For example “don’t say lata aunty”, instead say “just lata”. I feel this to be very odd, because it is our custom to address anyone elder to us with respect and calling someone just by their name isn’t respectful. Along with that I have come across many initiated devotees cribbing about the fact how after initiation everyone addresses them as mathaji, which makes them feel as if they are in their 80’s. Whenever I hear these kinds of things, in my mind I go isn’t that the truth of life. Every year when we celebrate our Birthday, we are celebrating our old age in one sense. Krishna explains this to Arjuna in BG Chapter 2 Verse 13. Below is the verse and translation:
dehino ’smin yathā dehe
kaumāraṁ yauvanaṁ jarā
dhīras tatra na muhyati
As the embodied soul continuously passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. A sober person is not bewildered by such a change.
In this verse Krishna explains that it the law of nature to transform from youth to old age. I feel like these days everybody wants to be immortal and stay young forever. If Lord Brahma, the creator of the world isn’t immortal, what to speak of mere living entities like us. These days in society everyone wants to look young, handsome, and beautiful. This is one of the reasons why Bollywood has a huge impact on everyone. In movies we get visualize different qualities of the protagonist such as power, romance, charm, beauty, and valor. All these emanate from Krishna, as Krishna is the cause of all causes. There is no one more beautiful than Krishna, and there is no one more powerful than Krishna. The ease with which Krishna killed all the demons in Vrindavan, no hero can match upto the power/strength of Krishna. Only Krishna is immortal and ever youthful. He always appears to be a young 16-year old boy. Krishna is never an old man. He is sac-cid Ananda, full of eternal bliss and knowledge.
Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu explains to Sanatan Goswami the eternal feature of Krishna as follows
kṛṣṇera svarūpa-vicāra śuna, sanātana
advaya-jñāna-tattva, vraje vrajendra-nandana
sarva-ādi, sarva-aṁśī, kiśora-śekhara
cid-ānanda-deha, sarvāśraya, sarveśvara
īśvaraḥ paramaḥ kṛṣṇaḥ
anādir ādir govindaḥ
“O Sanatana, please hear about the eternal form of Lord Krishna. He is the Absolute Truth, devoid of duality but present in Vrindavana as the son of Nanda Maharaja. Krishna is the original source of everything and the sum total of everything. He appears as the supreme youth, and His whole body is composed of spiritual bliss. He is the shelter of everything and master of everyone. ‘Krishna, who is known as Govinda, is the supreme controller. He has an eternal, blissful, spiritual body. He is the origin of all. He has no other origin, for He is the prime cause of all causes.'”—Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita, Madhya 20.152–154
Shrila Prabhupada explains in one of his lectures that Krishna is always found in the Kaishora avastha. Kaishora avastha is the age between 10 to 16 years old. The stage of youth begins after the age of 16. Krishna, addressed as vrajendra nandana (Son of Nanda maharaj) is always in his sweet 16. It is explained in the lecture that Krishna is sarva adi or the origin of everything. Meaning that he is the oldest, but is always young.
When we get old and our hair start to turn white, we apply hair color to make ourselves look young. Every-time we do this we are running away from the reality of this life and we are under the constant fear that our life is slipping away from us. One might think that by this I am trying to say that one shouldn’t beautify themselves by applying cosmetics or wearing jewelry. But that’s wrong. One should decorate themselves but not for self-pleasure or to show off their beauty amongst other people. Rather it should be done for the pleasure of Krishna. For example, when we go to the temple we decorate ourselves with tilaka for the pleasure of the lord. Another great example is when we do dramas/play on occasions in the temple, all the participants dress up to portray different characters of Lord’s pastimes for the pleasure of Krishna. The idea is that whatever we do in life we shouldn’t forget the true purpose which is Krishna. If we forget Krishna then we will be lost in maya and in the modes of this material world.
It is not easy to come to this understanding. In order to come to this realization, one has to have the right kind of association. There is beautiful explanation about association by Maulana Rumi,
‘Association’ he said:..“A rain drop from the sky: if it is caught by clean hands, is pure enough for drinking. If it falls in the gutter, its value drops so much that it can’t be used even for washing your feet. If it falls on a hot surface, it will evaporate… If it falls on a lotus leaf, it shines like a pearl and finally, if it falls on an oyster, it becomes a pearl…The drop is the same, but its existence & worth depends on whom it is associated with.”
With this in mind just like a drop of rain can become a pearl with the touch of oyster, in the same manner with the touch of a pure devotee we can clean our filthy hearts filled with dust and make it shine like a mirror. But, when that same drop of water drops into the gutter, it is not even worth of washing our feet. In that same manner when we associate with this material world our hearts become hearts become filthier and we dive deeper into the darkest world of ignorance. By hearing and chanting with devotees we can overcome our constant fear of our life slipping away. Therefore, the association and mercy of devotees is important to achieve Krishna prema (Love for Krishna) which is the ultimate truth of life.
About Author: Radhika Narsinghani is 20-years old and has been born an brought up at Boise, Idaho. Her parents are both initiated from his holiness Satsvarup Das Goswami Maharaj. She has choreographed several dances on concepts based off of Lord Krishna and Chaitnaya Mahaprabhu’s pastimes. She is currently studying Pharmacy at Idaho State University.