(Kadamba Kanana Swami, March 2018, Durban, South Africa, Ratha Yatra Lecture)
Human relationships become meaningful when Krsna is the priority. It is not good enough when Krsna is simply there in our lives. I mean, it is still nice that Krsna is there, but when Krsna actually becomes the priority, then it becomes significant to the point that everything will change. This is the unique feature of Srila Prabhupada, who truly made Krsna the priority and showed that consistently throughout his whole life. Many people in India have some affiliation with Krsna, so Krsna is obviously part of the culture of many people across the world. This is positive, very nice indeed, but that is not the same, not good enough. So Prabhupada came and gave us Krsna, making him the priority, and then suddenly, everything started to change – relationships started to change.
There is a story about Ramanujacharya and a wrestler. This wrestler’s eye fell upon a very beautiful girl and instantly became so enamoured by her that he became her dedicated servant. Whenever she walked in the sun, he would hold a parasol over her head. If there was anything that she needed, he would bring it to her even before she could think of requesting it from him – he would already have everything ready for her. So in this way, he was always serving her with great attention.
One day Ramanujacharya came by and saw how this wrestler was serving the girl and he came to this wrestler’s ashrama and asked, “Why are you serving this girl?” The wrestler said, “Oh, because she is so beautiful.” So Ramanujacharya replied, “You call that beautiful?” If anybody else would have said this, they would have been in some serious trouble. But the wrestler did have some respect for a sadhu, so he did not take action but instead challenged Ramanujacharya, “Well if you say that this is not beauty, then you show me what beauty is?” Ramanujacharya accepted this challenge and when they met the next morning, he took the wrestler by the hand into back alleys, left and right, till eventually they walked through a back door and into the temple where they stood right before a deity of the Lord. Because the wrestler was accompanied by Ramanujacharya who was full of transcendental potency, the wrestler got a vision of the beauty of the Lord and he simply stood there, stunned. He realised what Ramanujacharya was getting at, and from that day on, the wrestler became a completely dedicated devotee of the Lord.
The beautiful girl started to notice, “What is happening here? The wrestler is no longer coming around with the parasol and with all the other things to please me, what is happening? He has now become so devoted to the deity of the Lord.” At first, she was feeling a bit neglected, but then she saw that the wrestler was actually extraordinary because he was such a dedicated devotee of the Lord. And as a result, she began to bow down to him and now she began to serve him! So in such a way, the whole relationship just changed when these two made Krsna the priority. Now, please note that it is not always that the man is the one who takes on the role of the spiritual leader. In a family, it could be the lady who is the devotee and then she brings the spiritual energy into the relationship. So I did not want to read a story and create some kind of a classic model and how we have to follow with that. But ultimately, whoever has the dedication to Krsna will lead in that relationship. But when Krsna is in the relationship itself, then everything falls into place.
In the Srimad Bhagavatam, there is one of the catur-sloki. Initially, the Bhagavatam was spoken in four verses to Lord Brahma and then later, it was expanded into many verses. One of those four original verses to Lord Brahma said:
ṛte ’rthaṁ yat pratīyeta
na pratīyeta cātmani
tad vidyād ātmano māyāṁ
yathābhāso yathā tamaḥ
(Srimad Bhagavatam 2.9.34)
This meant that the value of anything is to be understood with respect to its relationship with Krsna. This is a very profound way of looking at things because one can immediately look at something and understand the real value of it. What is the merit in this for Krsna? If it does not have much merit for Krsna, then it is clearly not very important. That is a fantastic yard stick to determine the importance of anything. When we wonder of what we should do, we must as ourselves, “Is this valuable for Krsna? If it is valuable for Krsna, then it is very important. If not so valuable for Krsna, then not so important.” So this is how Krsna consciousness changes everything, including all our relationships. It gives individuals like us a purpose to serve, and therefore all our interactions with everyone must also have that purpose.