A story based on Lord Varāha’s Pastimes

— Subala dāsa

DUTY OR ATTACHMENT?

In the course of performing our spiritual duties, we often face great discouragement from family, friends and others who are attached to the materialistic way of life. In fact, it is the duty of māyā, the illusory energy of the Supreme Lord, to keep us materially conditioned and take us away from devotional life. There are 2 functions of māyā: prakṣepātmikā and āvaraṇātmikā. The former refers to her function of throwing the living entities into illusion, and the latter to her function of keeping them covered by such illusory thoughts.

To resist the force of maya means to remain determined on our path towards Kṛṣṇa. In that spiritual endeavor, what holds greater significance: addressing insults or fulfilling our responsibilities?

LORD VARĀHA’S APPEARANCE

Millions of years ago, there were two brothers called Hiraṇyākṣa and Hiraṇyakaśipu, who were terrorizing the entire universe. Hiraṇyākṣa captured Mother Earth and pushed her down deep into the Garbhodaka ocean. It was at this time where Lord Viṣṇu incarnated himself as Lord Varāha, the boar Incarnation, to save her from the depths of the universal water. 

While the Lord was lifting Mother Earth on his tusks, the demon Hiraṇyākṣa hurled several insulting words towards the Lord. He unhesitatingly refers to Lord Varāha, who is the all-powerful Viṣṇu, as a fool (mūḍha), and vows to destroy Him.

Although the blessed Lord felt some pain hearing the sharp words of the atheistic Hiraṇyākṣa, he tolerated the demon’s insults and focused on His duty of saving mother earth, who was in a frightened state.

THE LORD’S DUTIES

Lord Kṛṣṇa states His mission in the Bhagavad-gītā as follows:

paritrāṇāya sādhūnāṁ

vināśāya ca duṣkṛtām

dharma-saṁsthāpanārthāya

sambhavāmi yuge yuge


“In order to deliver the pious and to annihilate the miscreants, as well as to reestablish the principles of religion, I advent Myself millennium after millennium.” [BG 4.8]
So while Lord Varāhadeva was lifting Mother Earth, his first duty was to protect His devotee. Hence, He did not pay any attention to Hiraṇyākṣa’s countless insults.

After protecting Mother Earth, He rushed towards the evil demon and slayed him. In this way, dharma was easily upheld.

THE IMPORTANCE OF FOLLOWING OUR DUTIES

We find a similar example in the life of Lord Rāmacandra. Despite being deeply aggrieved at the thought of being separated from His beloved consort Sītā again, Śrī Rāma banished her to the forest to protect the principles of dharma. Foolish commentators attempt to malign the spotless character of Rāma by presenting Him as one who forsook His duty as a king, and a husband. However, when we understand the activities of the Lord through bona fide authorities (sādhu, śāstra and guru), we realize that the Lord is the supreme upholder of righteousness and duty.

Being the Supreme controller, Lord Viṣṇu is not obliged to perform any duties. Nonetheless, He does so to teach us the principles of dharma. As stated in the Bhagavad-gītā [3.23]:

yadi hy ahaṁ na varteyaṁ

jātu karmaṇy atandritaḥ

mama vartmānuvartante

manuṣyāḥ pārtha sarvaśaḥ


“For, if I did not engage in work, O Pārtha, certainly all men would follow My path.”

In fact, the very essence of the Bhagavad-gītā is to engage in one’s prescribed duties without being deterred by praise or criticism, loss or gain or any such conditions. Lord Kṛṣṇa instructs Arjuna as follows:

sukha-duḥkhe same kṛtvā

lābhālābhau jayājayau

tato yuddhāya yujyasva

naivaṁ pāpam avāpsyasi

“Do thou fight for the sake of fighting, without considering happiness or distress, loss or gain, victory or defeat—and, by so doing, you shall never incur sin.” [BG 2.38]

Hence, let us all learn how to perform our Kṛṣṇa consciousness duties despite the insults and the obstacles we face along the way.