By Niraj Bidawatka
Since the past week, after the expected sad demise of the iconic Steve Jobs, the media is agog with discussions and glorifications of the man. Not a single day has passed when his extra ordinary achievements, his impeccable character, his strive for perfection, and many more qualities have not been discussed or published. Twitter, on the day of his death, witnessed an average of 10000 tweets per second about the perfectionist Apple Chief. Everyone wanted to say something about Steve Jobs, no matter whether one knew about him or not. Something had to be said about the great inventor of the iPod and the Macintosh and no one wanted to miss out. It was not the first time that so much was discussed and published about a great personality on his death. This happens every time a big man dies. This is so because it is the nature of the intelligent human being that he revels in hearing and describing about the extra-ordinary activities of great men.
The Bhagavatam says that one should divert one’s propensity of hearing and chanting to the great activities of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna. Śravanam kirtanam viśnoh(SB 7.5.23). No one can surpass the greatness of the activities of Krishna. He is giving a juicy red apple which is full of nutritious vitamins and fibers without charging a single penny. But barring a select few, no one realizes this extra-ordinary feat. But when someone fleeces one’s hard-earned money by selling an Apple iPod or Mac, which has all the qualities of depleting the nutrients of the body, both gross and subtle, at steeply exorbitant prices, instead of decrying him, we glorify him and put him on the pedestal of a cult figure. But when a devotee of Krishna requests a person to buy a reasonably priced Bhagavad Gita, pat comes the reply, “You should be giving it free! Why do you charge for a holy book?” This happens because we have no idea about the greatness of God. One can survive without the apples of Steve but one cannot survive without the apples of Krishna. Therefore Krishna is unsurpassable in greatness.
The Bhagavad Gita gives full description of the greatness of Krishna but since we have no information about it, we have no inclination to glorify Him. The sun is working under the direction of Krishna as stated in the Brahma Samhitā (5.52). It is due to the sunlight that we are able to see and operate our cherished Apple products. If Krishna would not have created the sun, Mr. Jobs could not have accomplished the task of creating his masterpieces.
We are not decrying the achievements of Steve Jobs but we are just trying to highlight the fact that no one can accomplish anything independently of Krishna. Therefore it is our duty to glorify Krishna more than anyone else because He is the ability in man, as mentioned in Bhagavad Gita (7.8). Steve Jobs was able to create such wonderful gadgets because his ability and talent was sourced from Krishna. Krishna is the source of all sources. mam tejo’mśa sambhavam (Bg. 10.41).
The process of bhakti yoga is very simple. It involves three activities, namely hearing (śravanam), chanting (kīrtanam) and remembering (smaranam) Krishna. It is not a difficult process because we are already accustomed to these activities, albeit the subject matter is different than the desired one. Instead of hearing, chanting and remembering Krishna, we are engaged in hearing and glorifying rock stars, politicians, industrialists, geeks, etc. Such glorification of mundane people will bind us more and more profoundly in māyā.
If we divert our natural instinct of discussing about great personalities to the greatest supreme personality of Godhead, Krishna, then we can put a stop to all our sufferings and attain freedom from the cycle of birth and death. So we should hear about Krishna from a devotee who has knowledge about His glorious activities and qualities. After acquiring such valuable knowledge, we should speak about it to others. These activities of hearing and chanting about Krishna will enable us to remember Krishna at all times. This is the perfection of human life – ante narayana smrti – to remember Krishna at the time of death. The Bhagavad gita (8.5) states that one, who remembers Krishna at the time of death, goes undoubtedly back to His holy abode.
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