Recently, in Saranagati, an interesting class was given by Vishaka dasi on verse 18.76 of Bhagavad Gita.
“O King, as I repeatedly recall this wondrous and holy dialogue between Krishna and Arjuna, I take pleasure, being thrilled at every moment.”
From the purport, she read, “The understanding of Bhagavad-Gita is so transcendental that anyone who becomes conversant with the topics of Arjuna and Krsna becomes righteous and he cannot forget such talks. This is the transcendental position of spiritual life. In other words, one who hears the Gita from the right source, directly from Krishna, attains full Krishna consciousness. The result of Krishna consciousness is that one becomes increasingly enlightened, and he enjoys life with a thrill, not only for some time, but at every moment.”
At the end of class, my god brother, Yoginatha Prabhu, questioned that perhaps at the time Srila Prabhupada wrote this purport, the usage of the word ‘thrill’ was different. Our current understanding of the word thrill could not be accommodated in Srila Prabhupada’s statement. These days it would imply a steady diet of activities such as bungee jumping, horror movies, roller coasters, rich food, fast cars, and passionate romance. It is just not possible to have an endless barrage of passionate thrills. They will either run out or we will get burned out. As the great legend of Blues, B.B. King sang, “The thrill is gone Baby.”
Yoginatha’s question piqued my attention as I have read that statement many times over the years and each time, simply filed it in a mental folder I call, “for future understanding.”
I had just received a 15 pound, 2000 page 1904 edition of The New Twentieth Century Dictionary, so I volunteered to look it up its definition of the word, thrill. The 1904 definition of thrill was: “To be agitated or moved by; or as a subtle shivering sensation running through the body.” I next consulted two other dictionaries. The 1969 Pocket Oxford Dictionary, Fifth Edition, defined thrill as “A nervous tremor due to intense emotion.” From Webster’s New World Dictionary first published in 1987 the definition was “to feel or cause to feel emotional excitement.” Some how, between 1904 and 1987 the meaning of thrill had evolved, or perhaps we should say, devolved, from a subtle sensation, to intense emotion and then to emotional excitement. From this I could finally understand that Srila Prabhupada was talking about something much more subtle and profound than what our contemporary B.B. King had conceived of as a thrill.
Our civilization and linguistic culture is becoming so dull that sometimes we cannot properly understand Srila Prabhupada’s words, what to speak of grasping the concepts he is conveying. Our finer sentiments are losing definition in the language we speak. This was predicted in Srimad Bhagavatam SB 1.1.22:
“We think that we have met Your Goodness by the will of providence, just so that we may accept you as captain of the ship for those who desire to cross the difficult ocean of Kali, which deteriorates all the good qualities of a human being.”
Srila Prabhupada comments in the purport that “…..In this age, the life span will gradually decrease. People will gradually lose their memory, finer sentiments, strength, and better qualities.” This is certainly epitomized in the entertainment industries thrill factor which is pandering to gross sentiments by producing movies with prolonged and increased levels of graphic violence.
Love thru modern media has been reduced to passionate romance. An effect of the media’s presentation of so called love is that the general connotation of the word conjugal tends to be one of a sexual nature. Hoisting my 15 pound dictionary on my lap, being careful not to strain my back, I look up the word, conjugal. Conjugal: “Relating to marriage.” I ask my self what kind of activities relate to marriage? In my experience, its having children (sex is pretty much the only way), raising children, changing diapers, cooking, cleaning, picking up toys, doing laundry, talking with my wife, exchanging joking works with my wife, working to maintain my family, coming home from work and tripping on toys and picking them up again, paying bills, negotiating with my spouse who will do what and when, building a house, shopping, etc. etc. “Shopping? Conjugal?” you question. Well if I see my spouse and children as having been put under my care and protection by the mercy of Lord Krsna then even shopping for diapers can be a fulfilling subtle conjugal responsibility, a burden of love. However if I am influenced by the gross paradigms produced by contemporary media and society, I am likely to think of such activities as akin to stringing beads on a thread with no knot on the end, or worse like the burden of a beast, which is unfortunate and very common. The tragic rates of divorce illustrate this.
So does our lingo. “The thrill is gone baby!” “The honey moon is over.” “I’m moving on.” There is an interesting saying in the field of marital education. “If you made a movie of the small meaningful exchanges that make a marriage successful it would be like watching paint dry.” These subtle exchanges just cannot be portrayed on a flat screen, no matter how high the definition. It would not sell. Therefore media portrays love as gross sex and passion to increase sales. Small things, however, are very important and very meaningful. On the highest spiritual platform, small things can be extremely profound. In Nectar of Devotion, Srila Prabhupada’s summary study of Srila Rupa Goswami’s, Bhakti Rasamrita Sindhu there is a lengthy chapter on stimulations for ecstatic love of God. Many of the examples given are very subtle; the sound of Krsna’s ankle bells, seeing His footprints, meeting His devotees and even something as slight as hearing the name of Mathura. Yet these fine, faint stimuli evoke joyous rapture in those with advanced spiritual consciousness. This begs a question. If we cannot become appreciative and offer thanks for the small things around us; the warmth of the sun, a cooling breeze, refreshing water, or the small everyday things our spouse does for us, how will we ever be able comprehend these stimulations and impetuses for ecstatic love of God? “Baby, the thrill is not gone! I have become dull, unappreciative, self centered and selfish, please forgive me,” might be a more appropriate song.