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The Role of the Paramatma in our Life
In the Bhagavad-gita (15.15), Lord Krishna says:
sarvasya caham hrdi sannivistho
mattah smrtir jnanam apohanam ca
"I am seated in everyone's heart, and from Me come remembrance, knowledge and forgetfulness."
1. Paramatma - The Giver of Forgetfulness
At every moment, we are remembering something and forgetting something. Krishna, on the other hand, never forgets anything. He remembers everything - past, present and future - about everyone and everything at all times. This is confirmed in the Bhagavad-gita (4,5), where Lord Krishna tells Arjuna:
bahuni me vyatitani janmani tava carjuna
tany aham veda sarvani na tvam vetta parantapa
"Many many births both you and I have passed. I can remember all of them but you cannot, O subduer of the enemy!" Why is it that Krishna can remember everything while Arjuna cannot? It is because Krishna is infinite; He is God, whereas Arjuna is an infinitesimal jivatma, a tiny part and parcel of Krishna. Krishna being God is naturally complete and perfect. He therefore never forgets anything; He remembers everything. The jivatma, on the other Hand, being a tiny part and parcel of Krishna, is prone to forgetfulness.
It is often asked, "If I am the same spirit soul going through many, many lives, why am I unable to remember my previous lives?" We forget our previous lives because Krishna, as the Paramatma, makes us forget. And why does the Paramatma make us forget? Because unless we forget what we did in our previous lives, how can we enjov? The Paramatma supplies forgetfulness of our previous lives so that we may not be prevented from going ahead with our desires to enjoy.Why forgetfulness is necessary for enjoyment can be understood from an example. If a near and dear member of our family has just passed away and, if at that time a friend of ours calls us for a movie, will we go? We will be too much grief-struck to even consider the idea of enjoyment.
Similarly if we were to remember all the dangerous activities and painful experiences of all our past lives, it would cause us so much anguish that we would be rendered incapable of all activity and enjoyment. Leave alone the past lives, if we were to remember completely even all the sins we committed and the pains we suffered in this very lifetime, we would be put into a state of utter bewilderment and would not be able to act normally. What then to speak of the sins and sufferings of all our past lives? For example, we might have ruthlessly murdered someone in a previous life or we might ourselves have met an excruciatingly painful death in a ghastly car accident or we might have been a dumb animal, helplessly slaughtered by a merciless butcher and so on.
If all these memories are not suppressed, how much pain will they inflict on our mind? As it is, there are enough painful memories from this very life, which keep agonizing us periodically. If all the painful memories of all our past lives are added to them, we would be so much haunted by them that there would be no question of any enjoyment at all. Therefore the Paramatma is very merciful to provide us forgetfulness about our previous lives so that we may not be prevented from going ahead with our desires
for enjoyment.On hearing this, people incredulously ask, "You mean to say that Krishna allows us to enjoy in illusion and suffer consequently. Even an ordinary father checks and corrects his son if he starts treading on the wrong path. Krishna is supposed to be our supremely merciful father. If He is allowing us to go ahead with this false material enjoyment instead of stopping us, what kind of father is He?"
But we cannot blame Krishna; the fault is ours. We were living an eternal, blissful life of full knowledge with Krishna in our original home, the spiritual world. But we insisted on becoming independent enjoyers. So Krishna has sent us here to this material world so that we can see for ourselves what it means to be forgetful of Him and to try to enjoy separate from Him. Eventually, after repeated futile attempts for enjoyment, we will realize that we just cannot enjoy separate from Him. Then we will surrender to Him and He will take us back to Him.Someone may ask, "What is the need to learn the hard way? If this material enjoyment is false, why does Krishna allow us to go ahead with it? Why did He not stop us in the first place?" It is because the relationship between Krishna and us is based on love. Love implies freedom; love cannot be forced. If love is forced, it is artificial; it is not true love. That is why, when we insisted on enjoying separate from the Lord, He reluctantly allowed us. This can be better understood through an example.
If a father has a small child, the father loves him very much and takes great care of him. Whenever the child wants to go anywhere, the father always catches hold of his finger and safely escorts him. But sometimes the child gets angry with his father, "Why do you always catch hold of my finger? I can look after myself. I will go out alone." When the child insists, the father allows him, although reluctantly. The child immediately marches out on to the street determined to be on his own. He walks a tew steps very boldly, but then he looks up and what does he find? Everything around him is unfamiliar and threatening, He sees big hefty men walking by. There are huge lorries roaring along the street. And he hears a loud horn honking at him. Completely frightened, he runs back to safe shelter of his father's arms, who embraces him joyfully as soon as he comes back.
Similarly, though we were happily living in the spiritual world with our supreme father, Krishna, we insisted on leaving Him to enjoy on our own. Krishna therefore reluctantly allowed us to come to this material world to try to enjoy separate from Him. And when we try, we will eventually understand that, there is no enjoyment separate from Krishna; there is only anxiety and suffering. Then we will turn back to Him and He will immediately guide us back to our eternal home, the spiritual world.