If we were to see material energy as Krishna’s agent we would certainly have to rethink our relationship with it. One of the first thing we learn in Krishna consciousness is that our material interests are impermanent and unimportant while our real duties and obligations lie in our relationships with guru and Krishna.
This is how we’ve been trained – spiritual life comes first, material duties can be practically forsaken.
Of course we have the entire Bhagavad Gita dedicated to convincing Arjuna to perform his varnashrama obligation to fight and we never forget to mention it when challenged about being disconnected from the world but our practical application has been mostly about giving up all our dharmas, shaving our heads, and joining the temple. That’s how we interpret the last instruction of the Gita, sarva dharman parityajya, and make no mistake, it’s the most important one and it doesn’t lose its value even for fully liberated paramahamsas but the application should most probably be somewhat different.
I mean that a paramahamsa does not even see any other varieties of religion, he sees Krishna everywhere and not just symbolically but in His two armed form of Syamasundara. Or rather everywhere he looks he sees Syamasundara first and foremost, in the heart of his heart, and then the external world as His extension, I guess. I don’t know how exactly yo mam pasyati sarvatra sarvam ca mayi pasyati works (BG 6.30). Point is – he can’t see any separation from Krishna so for him there’s nothing to renounce.
It could also be that he can see and understand all kinds of material dharmas but he sees their connection to Krishna and so in every duty he sees Krishna’s hand and Krishna’s orders, so following them does not break mām ekaḿ śaraṇaḿ vraja principle.
If we were to try and treat the world in this way it would mean reconnection with our previously abandoned duties. We thought that our obligations to our families needed to be renounced in favor of surrendering to Krishna but if we saw our family duties as imposed by Krishna Himself we would happily return home and take care of whatever and whoever needs to be taken care of there. I guess simply being there would give so much pleasure and satisfaction to our mothers and fathers that it could be considered a duty. They have brought us into this world with certain expectations and these expectations could be considered our duties, right?
Similarly, the whole society invested quite a lot in our training and education and it expects us to be productive members in return even though these days it means simply being faithful customers. One day, however, a country might mobilize its citizens for a war and we would be expected to fulfill our duties in this regard, too.
Right now we do not see ourselves as being obliged to fight for “freedom” or “democracy” or whatever nonsense politicians think up to justify their greedy adventures but if we were put in World War II times somewhere in Europe we could be facing the battle for the very survival of the society that has made us into citizens, hence the call to arms would have been justified.
Can we see it as coming from Krishna Himself? No, of course not, but a paramahamsa would, so theoretically we should always keep that option open. I think.
The maturing into that paramahamsa stage would be most welcome by all – everyone would enjoy the return of the prodigal son and everyone would have their smug “I told you so” look on their faces and we should be prepared for that.
From outsider pov we would finally admit the value of their value structure. That it’s important to be a son, a citizen, a consumer, a member of the society, the member of the human species. We can give up these aspirations out of youthful foolishness and our return is a sign of validation for them.
Of course they’d be totally wrong about the reasons for our newly found appreciation and their smugness would be very short lived because if we serve in our materially designated roles only as servants of Krishna then people who expected to accept this service as their own would be educated about their real position of being only Krishna’s agents and greatly humbled by the experience.
That’s how paramahamsas turn everyone into Krishna’s devotee, how they act as magic touchstones and convert everyone simply by their presence. This is a deeply profound experience, for everyone gets to see himself as connected to the Lord of their hearts, whatever their version might be, simply through a brief association with a devotee. They immediately forget that they wanted to be our fathers for their own pleasure, for example, they see that their parental duties are their service to Krishna, and that feeling simply melts the hearts of materialists.
We say that preaching requires stepping down to madhyama level but it is not entirely correct – associating with perfect devotees is always supremely beneficial even if they don’t try to teach us anything in particular. Simply being in their presence opens up our hearts to service to Krishna, one single moment of their association transforms our relationships with the entire world.
Practical example – when they meet a sankirtana devotee on the street they immediately form some kind of relationship with him. It’s a stranger selling some stuff, or it’s one of those Hare Krishnas, or it’s a nice young man, or it’s an annoying young man, or it’s a useless young man – one look is usually enough to establish the basis of the relationship. When this person hears devotee speak, however, that relationship suddenly transforms into being put in touch with Krishna Himself. You can see it on their faces, how one moment they think their are talking to a young man and the next moment they realize God’s presence in their heart. Nothing has changed externally but the heart has been melted.
This should form the essence of our return to the world, the essence of our reconnection with it. We don’t come back to be sons or fathers or employees or consumers, that’s only the first impression, but our return should inspire people to serve Krishna. At first they might think “my value system has been validated” but their next thought should be “forget it, I want Krishna!”
That’s how being lower than the blade of grass makes one the greatest personality ever. To carry Krishna in one’s heart we should become humblest of the humble but when we give Krishna to others they see it as greatest of the greatest. We’d be foolish to claim this greatness to ourselves and we’d be foolish to think of being humble as means of achieving greatness and so we might not be ready yet, but that is the paramahamsa way, we should always keep it in mind even as a theory.