Chapter 5: Attaining Perfection

Bhaktivedanta VedaBase: Nārada Bhakti Sūtra 77

sukha-duḥkhecchā-lābhādi-tyakte kāle pratīkṣamāṇe kṣaṇārdham api vyarthaḿ na neyam


sukha — happiness; duḥkha — unhappiness; icchā — hankering; lābha — profiteering; ādi — and so on; tyakte — having given up; kāle — the time; pratīkṣamāṇe — being waited for; kṣaṇa — of a moment; ardham — one half; api — even; vyartham — vainly; na neyam — should not be wasted.


Patiently enduring till the time when one can put aside material happiness, distress, desire, and false gain, one should not waste even a fraction of a second.


Human birth is rare and one's life span brief. Why is human life so precious? Because we can use it for self-realization and get free of birth and death. But, as implied by this sūtra, much of our human lifetime is consumed in the struggle for existence. While instructing his young schoolmates on the urgency of Kṛṣṇa consciousness, Prahlāda Mahārāja made a calculation of how human life is wasted:

Every human being has a maximum duration of life of one hundred years, but for one who cannot control his senses, half of those years are completely lost because at night he sleeps twelve hours, being covered by ignorance. Therefore such a person has a lifetime of only fifty years.

In the tender age of childhood, when everyone is bewildered, one passes ten years. Similarly in boyhood, engaged in sporting and playing, one passes another ten years. In this way twenty years are wasted. Similarly, in old age, when one is an invalid, unable to perform even material activities, one passes another twenty years wastefully.

One whose mind and senses are uncontrolled becomes increasingly attached to family because of insatiable lusty desires and very strong illusion. In such a madman's life, the remaining years are also wasted because even during those years he cannot engage himself in devotional service. [Bhāg. 7.6.6-8]

Whenever we misspend time, it is an irretrievable loss. As Cāṇakya Paṇḍita states, all the gold in a rich man's possession cannot buy back a single moment of time.

A devotee uses his time well, and this is one of the symptoms of his advancement. Śrīla Prabhupāda writes, "He is always anxious to utilize his time in the devotional service of the Lord. He does not like to be idle. He wants service always, twenty-four hours a day without deviation" (The Nectar of Devotion, p. 138).

We cannot wait until after we complete our many duties before starting to remember Kṛṣṇa. If we give bhakti such a low priority, our practice will never be more than a formality, a hurried prayer stolen from our time for "real" business or a perfunctory visit to the temple once a week. Rather, as Nārada has observed, "One achieves bhakti by hearing and chanting about the Supreme Lord's special qualities, even while engaged in the ordinary activities of life in this world" (Nārada-bhakti-sūtra 37). Let us remember Lord Kṛṣṇa's advice in Bhagavad-gītā (8.7): "Remember Me and fight."

The voice of delusion says, "When I'm older, I'll be less occupied with the struggle for existence. Then I'll take to Kṛṣṇa consciousness." But we may die before old age ever comes, or we may be too feeble at that time. As King Kulaśekhara prays (Mukunda-māla-stotra 40),

kṛṣṇa tvadīya-pada-pańkaja-pañjarāntam

adyaiva me viśatu mānasa-rāja-haḿsaḥ

prāṇa-prayāṇa-samaye kapha-vāta-pittaiḥ

kaṇṭhāvarodhana-vidhau smaraṇaḿ kutas te

"O Lord, at this moment let the royal swan of my mind enter the network of the stems of the lotus flower of Your feet. How will it be possible for me to remember You at the time of death, when my throat will be choked up with mucus, bile, and air?"

Nārada advises that one should "patiently endure." This is advice for the devotee. He should fully engage himself in Kṛṣṇa consciousness with the goal of going back to Godhead, and in the meantime he should tolerate the dualities of life. As Lord Kṛṣṇa advises Arjuna, "O son of Kuntī, the nonpermanent appearance of happiness and distress, and their disappearance in due course, are like the appearance and dis-appearance of winter and summer seasons. They arise from sense perception, O scion of Bharata, and one must learn to tolerate them without being disturbed" (Bg. 2.14). "Patiently endure" does not mean that one should stoically put up with life's dualities and not fully engage in Kṛṣṇa consciousness! The devotee spends all his days and moments wholeheartedly engaged in devotional service, but still he has to contend with material upheavals. So in the face of these inevitable changes, he should patiently endure and go on chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa.

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