All of us have had experiences of being asked this question- “What’s your goal in life?” While as school kids I was asked to write essays titled “My ambition”, a teenager version of the same was meeting aunties and uncles at weddings and being asked on future plans.
As a nursery kid I answered that I wanted to become a doctor. As a primary school kid, I dreamt of myself as a lawyer. At high school, I learnt of IIT coaching classes and alas, when I came to college, I was probably a little late. But, I was told plans can never stop. I aspired for higher studies and then a bright corporate job! Meanwhile, at a different internal world called the heart, voices kept raising on how I wasn’t happy despite faithfully accomplishing at least half of these goals.
I’m definitely not alone in this race. Every single friend of mine seems to be running behind his/her own set of defined “goals”; what is surprising though, is that, even at best cases of achieving such goals, there is never internal peace or if ‘peace’ sounds too much of a sanctified word, there seems to be the absence of even a short-lived contentment. The world, television and internet constituting major portions of its influence, continuously keeps bombarding us with fashionable things to procure and hence modern goals to run behind, leaving no time to sit back and be happy with what one has. The mind then urges one to start trying something outside career, and thus does one follow friends, relationships, parties, movies and what not!
Of course, the act of fixing goals deserves appreciation, but to go one step further and understand how achieving those goals will truly help oneself is deemed intelligent. Most fruits of work in this world are transient, volatile and involve great pain on separation. In the Bhagavad Gita (10.34), it is said that the Lord in the form of death destroys all a person’s possessions (mrtyuh sarva-haras caham). In Kali yuga, things are even worse – with trust-unworthy, quarrelsome, power-hungry people, all that you procure sadly goes away with ease, giving us all the more reason to understand how material nature works.
To be free from such disappointments while simultaneously not giving up goal-driven living, Vedic literature guides the suffering population to work towards the one ultimate goal of life – to know God to be the Supreme friend, Supreme proprietor and Supreme enjoyer. In this connection, Srila Prabhupada says, “To go back home, back to Godhead. That is the real goal of life. The water that comes from the sea forms clouds, the clouds fall down as rain, and the actual goal is to flow down the river and again enter the sea. So, we have come from God, and now we are embarrassed by material life. Therefore, our aim should be to get out of this embarrassing situation and go back home, back to Godhead. This is the real goal of life.”
The result of such a realization can place one in the supreme interest – supreme because the object of interest here is the ultimate person who can never leave souls devoted to Him in loss or anxiety. This is in complete alignment with what Lord Krishna Himself states in the Bhagavad Gita – “My devotee never perishes” (Gita 9.31)
Passionate men and women might think, “Yes, Lord Krishna is nice, but I have my family and career to take care of!” By way of what prodigious acharyas like Srila Rupa Goswami have taught us, the goal of being conscious of Krishna can never be checked by any material duty. The Gaudiya Vaishnava parampara talks of yukta vairagya, where one can possibly align any of his material goals like family, career, friends and social obligations in the service of the supreme goal of serving Lord Krishna.
On the bodily platform, each of us has desires according to the facilities given to us for enjoyment. A kid uses his tiny brain to enjoy cartoons, a teenager uses his intelligence on academics while a young man widens his acumen to protect his dependents. This goes on and upon death, the soul takes another body and the duties change on the nature of body attained. The soul, however, never changes and its only duty, as per the Vedic scriptures, is to serve the Supreme Lord (jivera ‘svarupa’ haya — krsnera ‘nitya-dasa).
If only we become fortunate enough to place the soul goal as the sole goal of our lives, we can rest assured that Lord Krishna will act as the ultimate goal-keeper against all other calamities and render us successful in this very fortunate human existence.
Try it once and you’ll thank yourself for it!
By DivyaPriya Muthukumaran