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Markandeya Rsi vs. PhD

This PhD degree has been the greatest austerity I've ever undertaken. It was often frustrating, demotivating, felt like it would never end, caused my body to frequently fall ill and resulted in a huge amount of worry and pain.

However, the austerity of this PhD have been child's play compared with what a sage named Markandeya Rsi went through. (His story is told in the 12th Canto of the Srimad Bhagavatam. I'm recalling it in my own words here):

Markandeya was meditating on the Supreme Personality of Godhead in his small heritage for many years. He was very strictly and sincerely meditating. So much so, in fact, that Indra, the King of Heaven (aka Zeus), became worried that this Markandeya might become eligible to take over his position soon. Indra therefore sent a team of people to break Markandeya's meditation.

He sent Cupid along with the best of the heavenly singers (Gandharvas), the most beautiful of the heavenly exotic dancers (Apsaras), the season of spring, a gentle cool breeze, intoxication personified and greed personified (the mode of passion and the false ego of thinking in terms of "I" and "mine"). A celebrate monk's worst nightmare. All these together were to create a situation where Markandeya would be tempted to stop his meditation and enjoy materially.

However, faced with these allurements, Markandeya wasn't even slightly shaken. He remained completely steady and fixed in his worship.

Markandeya Rsi's austerities were so powerful, in fact, that the members of Indra's assault team began to burn-up within (similar to what happen when Kapila Muni was attacked by the sons of Sagara who thought he had stolen a sacrificial horse).

Eventually, while Markandeya was meditating in this way, the Nara-Narayana avatar came and visited him. Markandeya immediately recognized the Supreme Lord and worshiped him with expert poetry.

The sage explained: Krishna is like a spider, He creates everything within the universe like a spider creates his web, and then He retracts it all back within Himself. Through Krishna one can conquer material misery, death and even time itself. Time is so powerful that even Lord Brahma (the oldest and most intelligent person in the universe) fears it, but Krishna's devotee need not fear time. The devotee knows that his self is not the body. The modes of nature generally bind us to the material world, but the devotee knows how to use the mode of goodness as a launch pad to blast himself off on a trajectory back to Godhead. Because of their perverted and sinful activities, materialists cannot understand Krishna. So material philosophers therefore come up with so many different theories, doctrines and religions. These are created to match their particular mix of the modes of nature (satva-, raja- and tama-guna), but have no real substance.

After hearing this nice prayer by Markandeya, Nara-Narayana offered him any benediction he might desire. The sage answered that just seeing his worshipable Lord was all he desired. He could imagine no greater gift. However, he was curious about the illusory energy (maya). He asked to understand how it could bewilder so many people into thinking material life was the one true reality.

The Lord ruefully promised to fulfill his wish and then disappeared.

Markandeya went on meditating for a few years when suddenly strong wind started to blow. Soon after, it started raining very heavily. The intense rains caused severe flooding. This hurricane went on continuously for many years. The intense weather eventually caused the entire surface of the earth to become flooded. Practically all species died off in this intense atmosphere. Gigantic sharks roamed the wild waters. The flooding even spread to the higher-dimensional space of the heavenly planets. It was the devastation at the end of the day of Brahma.

Markandeya was swimming and drifting throughout all of this. He lost all sense of orientation, he felt intense hunger and thirst, he got attacked by sharks, he felt extreme pain from various injuries, he was completely exhausted continuously fighting for his life, he frequently fell ill, he felt lamentation, happiness (when he temporarily escaped some danger), fear and misery. This went on for many, many years, all throughout the night of Brahma (4.32 billion years).

After an extremely long time drifting in the waters of devastation, Markandeya spotted a small island with a banyan tree growing on it. In one corner of the tree he saw a young child. As he swam closer to the island he noticed the wonderful beauty of the child. He noted his blackish-blue skin, wonderful jewelry, shark-shaped earrings, auspicious bodily markings and nice cosmetic decorations.

Then, suddenly, the child inhaled and began to suck everything surrounding him into his mouth. Markandeya also got sucked into the mouth of this wondrous child. Within the mouth he saw his old hermitage, the waters of devastation, the heavenly planets, the creation and destruction of the universe, everything, the entire universal manifestation; he even saw time itself, past, present and future, all at once. The child then exhaled and Markandeya found himself spat out back into the waters of devastation.

As he once again began to struggle to keep his head above the waters, he suddenly found himself transported back to his old heritage, as if nothing had happened. He then realized: "oh ... so this is the power of the illusory energy!".

And I realize: a PhD is nothing compared to that.

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  • Marry 20/12/2012 8:10pm (5 years ago)

    Haribol Carana renu,PAMHOAGTSPAGTGMI don't know how to write to you directly so I'm just lveniag a comment on your blogg. I've tried e-mailing you but I didn't get through as I think I have an old e-mail address. I hope you find a job, can it be in any country? Come to NZ/Australia (I'm currently in Brisbane) and you can teach me some book distribution tricks of the trade. Krsna reciprocates perfectly. That's my recent realisation. It's hard to believe sometimes (when things are difficult) but Krsna will look after our needs if we make service to Him our priority.It would be great to hear from you, it's all down to you that I'm here right now. God knows what i'd be up to otherwise so thank you so much.Your servant,Sukanthi Radha devi dasi (aka Tara)

  • Carol 11/04/2009 2:13am (9 years ago)

    nice to visit your is really charming! ^_^

  • Prem kumar n. 17/03/2009 7:13am (9 years ago)

    dear sir,

    i am new to krsna consciousness and have a master's in law ( LLM) . my employer a private college is pushing me to do a Phd . thinking of doing something on management , is there any advise you can give.

    ps. do you have steven rosen's email.

  • dave 28/08/2008 7:37am (9 years ago)

    Cool so I'm a common fool, fantastic best news get explains a lot!

    Interesting insight and thought to take a comparison humbles us and helps focus the mind.
    Anything and everything can be used in Krishna's service but as a society we will only truly be taken serious when those like you of academic mind stand up and demonstrate the academic merits of KC.

    For example I was talking to one young individual who did not take KC serious and thought we were all fools, until he read the book "Search for Vadic India" by HH Davamrita Swami, the academic presentation of facts was enough to convince him that people like me with only a degree education were not actually fools. High Impact

  • Candidasa dasa 28/08/2008 12:34am (9 years ago)

    A PhD does nothing for spiritual realization. To gain spiritual realization one's time is better spent reading books on that topic and chanting the Hare Krishna mantra. Working hard on a PhD is a distraction from that.

    However, a PhD is very useful for <i>spreading</i> Krishna consciousness. Prabhupada himself instructed some of his disciples to go to university and get PhDs. PhDs are the academic heads of society. If a Dr says Krishna consciousness is good, many people will believe him, because he has undergone the austerity to prove he is materially knowledgeable (<a href="" rel="nofollow">BG 3.21</a>). If a common fool says KC is good, people will just laugh at him.

    Additionally, doing a PhD teaches you how the academic world works. I know how to write a proper scientific paper, present at prestigious scientific conferences and generally walk in that world. The powerful scientist of the world are suffering due to lack of understanding the science of Krishna consciousness, but they certainly won't listen to someone whom they perceive to be inferior to them in knowledge, behaviour and culture. It takes someone from their "own ranks" to introduce them to Krishna consciousness.

    A PhD is also good for material maintenance. That is: I will have no trouble at all finding a good job.

    And finally, I can use some of the practical computer science (and general academic) knowledge I have learnt and apply it directly to Krishna consciousness.

  • Krishna das 27/08/2008 1:16pm (9 years ago)

    The difference between Markandeya Rishi and you is that he was performing austerities for self realization. My question is, how can getting a PhD help you in spiritual realization? I ask this because I have read many statements in Prabhupada's books where he speaks about PhDs not being required for spiritual knowledge, and in fact, almost being a disqualification. One quote I vivdly remember, from the 9th Canto in the section about Lord Rama is that Srila Prabhupada said that the modern raksasas are holding PhDs. I am not calling you or anyone else a raksasa, of course, but for Srila Prabhupada to use that kind of language in refering to PhDs, it seems that he didn't really think it was very necessary, and in fact, a disqualification.

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