The Great Vishnu, transcendentally situated in a place beyond winning and losing
Three weeks ago I was in Cologne, Germany. We were celebrating the 10th annual Hare Krishna chariot festival there. For four hours we sang and danced our way round the town in the sunshine while members of the team threw rose petals from the top of the wagon, and another handed out smoking sticks of incense. The locals loved it.
It was a Saturday, and the German football fans were getting ready to watch their national team play another game in the sun. Luckily the fans were happy enough to take part in our singing as our procession passed them, standing in groups or filling the pubs noisily to bursting point. They may not have been so accurate with their choice of lyrics to sing back at us, but they cheered us on.
Last night those fans would have been enjoying something close to religious ecstasy, with their 7-1 defeat of Brazil. And last night the Brazilians would have been feeling, no doubt, considerable pain of loss, as their national team passed into football history as losers of the greatest defeat of the World Cup. What an upset for such a footballing nation.
Yet although football is a religion for some, it does not contain all the ingredients that a religion does. Religion, ultimately, is to help us not to become too depressed in our sad moments, and not too elated during our happy ones. Too much of emotional extremes – and not being able to cope in between – is one of the factors leading to stress; and from stress comes depression.
With 53 million prescriptions for depression being handed out in the UK in 2013, there’s an awful lot of people that could do with something to help them get through life. I don’t know what its like in Germany for depression (although there’s probably significantly less depression nationally this morning) but no doubt its comparable. So without medication what is the solution for stress-induced depression?
Religion can also be a cause for mood swings – especially when the religion is the man-made type – as many religions are, but genuine religion, as found in the Bhagavad-gita, will always take us above the ups and downs of life, the winning and losing and the happiness and distress of changing fortunes.
So the people of Brazil can change their fortunes immediately – or their perceptions of their fortunes – by taking to the other thing they like to do, singing and dancing in the streets, and by adding the Hare Krishna chant to their music.