What are we trying to be rescued from?- The example of Princess Devahuti
The Bhagavad Gita describes this world as a temporary place full of misery.Misery is not a design flaw in the material world – it is by design. When we learn how to deeply feel the pain and misery of this wo
rld, we detach from it and deeply desire to be rescued. However “The Knight in Shining Armor” may not be able to rescue us perfectly since that knight also belongs to this miserable material world. The place the knight would rescue us from and the place the knight would take us to both belong within the material world. It would be placing too much of an expectation on your knight to really rescue you and keep you happy. Also the knight would have his own share of misery and would be looking to have his own needs met.
While some make fairy tales, movies and the world of pretend their foundation, many find it prudent to find examples from scripture and real life. Fairy tales end with happily ever after , glossing over the lives of the hero and heroine walking into the sunset. The rescued princess seems happy in the arms of her beloved – not much detail is given about how they got along with each other, how they handled disagreement, finances, children, challenges and the course of their marriage. Without that level of detail the make believe presented leaves us starry eyed.Scriptures on the other hand very clearly elucidate the impossibility of finding happiness in this world and point us to a spiritual panacea for our quest.
The Srimad Bhagavatam
gives us the example of Princess Devahuti.She was the daughter of King Manu who was the governor not of a village , or a state , or a country, or a planet – but he was the governor of the entire universe. She grew up with incomparable opulence, with many jewels, maidservants, royal palaces and loving parents. She was one of the most beautiful women of the world. She was seeking a suitable husband in terms of age, character and good qualities. The moment she heard about the sage Kardama Muni she set her mind and heart on him. Not because she saw him as the knight in the shining Armor who would rescue her from her emotional and mental problems and not because she saw him as someone who would meet her needs. Her view of marriage was aligned to the principle of marriage elucidated by her spiritual masters,her spiritual guides and the scriptures of the Bhakti Tradition
Being highly spiritually elevated herself, she found her pleasure in developing a connection with Krsna and not in the tasteless things of the world.She was convinced by knowledge and
realization that the things of the world were temporary and could not offer her any lasting peace and pleasure. Since she was convinced by knowledge she did not have the need to experience them before she made a decision about their importance. She was looking for someone who also on the spiritual path, so that as husband and wife they could march together on the path of eternal life. Kardama Muni seemed to be a good fit for her as he was fixed in his spiritual understanding and was clear in his path. She was convinced that such a marriage based on a spiritual theme would rescue her from the material world and its problems of birth , disease, old age and death. She knew that this knight in the shining armor had the ability, the vision and the mercy to rescue her from the frivolity of material life towards lasting peace and happiness in the Lord’s service.
Devahuti got married to Kardama Muni fully aware and prepared to give up the identity of a princess and to live an austere life in the forest with no palaces, no maid servants, very simple clothes and a very simple living. Over time because of the austere life she also lost her beauty, her hair became matted , and she became very emaciated but that did not bother her as her pleasure did not come from the externals . She found her pleasure in serving her very spiritually elevated husband assisting him in his spiritual growth. Her pleasure came from serving him with respect, love and affection.Kardama Muni on the other hand had great appreciation for his wife. He acknowledged that he was able to go further on the spiritual path because of her love,
care and assistance and so he willingly shared all the spiritual assets and mercy he had accumulated with her. When she desired to have a a child he made perfect arrangements by his mystic powers to have a fruitful union with her. Through his powers, her emaciated and dull body once again turned very beautiful and they lived in palatial surroundings of great beauty. Their union resulted in her having the Supreme Lord Krsna come as her son as Kapila Muni. Kapila Muni being the Lord Himself further inspired Devahuti on the spiritual path, so at the end of her life she was able to give the last vestiges of material attachment and fully focus her mind on the Lord. At the end she is liberated from the cycle of birth, disease, old age and death and became situated in her spiritual identity of a loving servant of Krsna.
Bridging the gap between Devahuti and ourselves:
Looking for a husband to rescue her from the cycle of birth and death, Devahuti made the right choice and achieved the purpose of life. As aspiring spiritualists we can consider how we can follow the quality of her heart. Her heart was full of satisfaction in being connected to the Supreme as a loving servant of the Lord. It is evident from the parallels of the fairy tales and Devahuti that our needs shape our lives. Before looking for a suitable spouse it would be prudent to examine the condition of our heart and evaluate our needs- both material and spiritual.
Being aware of our needs and core issues helps us deal with them in a mature way without leaping at the next prince charming who holds promise. Awareness of our weaknesses makes us powerful against the force of temptation. Such awareness helps us in personal transformation. It helps us find healthy ways to meet needs. It helps us in resolving some of our core hurts. It helps us in choosing good Krsna Conscious strategies to meet our needs Over time such awareness also helps us in assessing if those needs are real or if they are artificial creations of our own minds. Our soul begins to sense that there is more to life than the mundane experiences of the superficial level of our engagement in the world. The soul begins to feel a weariness of spirit in an endless cycle of dissatisfaction. There is usually nothing with which it can be attributed except for the revival of one’s lost relationship with God who we in the Gaudiya Vaishnava Bhakti Tradition
know as Lord Krsna
With a powerful Daily Bhakti Practice
we will be able to remove the non-essentials from our heart and completely focus on the essence which is development of a loving relationship with Krsna. That would help us in finding a spouse more suited to really aid us in our eternal spiritual journey of loving service to Lord Krsna.