Analogy #1: Like a drop of water in the desert

Analogy #1: Like a drop of water in the desert

This section took a long time to manifest – analogies! Srila Prabhupada often times explains philosophy in analogies, which are so brilliant, illustrative and simply relatable. There are so many of them!

Being in ISKCON my whole life, i.e. more than 25 years, I remember at one point having an illusion of “I know everything”. But when I went through all of Srila Prabhupada’s books few years ago – that illusion was shattered – and many analogies I heard for the first time in my life, as some of them are not widely known or discussed much.

In this section we shall be making a visual representation of all Srila Prabhupada’s analogies for easy memorization!

Now, I heard this Analogy #1 few days ago when I was listening to Nrisimha Caturdasi class of Srila Prabhupada given on 26.05.1972:

Our society means… Society, friendship and love = there must be woman, must be children, suto-mita-ramanī-samāje. So there is some pleasure, undoubtedly. Otherwise, why people are working so hard to stick to this position? Vidyāpati sings that tātala saikate vāri-bindu sama suta-mita-ramaṇī-samāje. There is undoubtedly some pleasure, but that pleasure is so insignificant that it can be compared = a drop of water on the desert. If you want to utilize desert to make it a garden or productive field, you have to pour water. The whole ocean water you have to pour there. Now, if somebody says, “All right, you want water. Now take this one drop water,” then what it will do?”

Also you can find this analogy in many of His books, including Bhagavatam, Caitanya Caritamrita & others:

Everyone is hankering after happiness, just as in the desert everyone is hankering after water. If in the desert there is a drop of water, it may of course be said that water is there, but the benefit from that drop of water is very insignificant. In our materialistic way of life, which is just like a desert, we are hankering after an ocean of happiness, but in the form of society, friends and mundane love we are getting no more than a drop of water. Our satisfaction is never achieved, as the small rivulets, lakes and ponds are never filled with water in the dry season.

[Krishna book, 20]

Generally people in their conditioned life engage in the pleasure of society, friendship and love. This so-called love is lust, not love. But people are satisfied with such a false understanding of love. Vidyāpati, a great and learned poet of Mithilā, has said that the pleasure derived from friendship, society and family life in the material world is like a drop of water, but our hearts desire pleasure like an ocean. Thus the heart is compared to a desert of material existence that requires the water of an ocean of pleasure to satisfy its dryness. If there is a drop of water in the desert, one may indeed say that it is water, but such a minute quantity of water has no value. Similarly, in this material world no one is satisfied in the dealings of society, friendship and love. Therefore if one wants to derive real pleasure within his heart, he must seek the lotus feet of Govinda.

[Caitanya Caritamrita Adi 5.224]

Such happiness is described by Vidyāpati as the happiness one derives upon seeing a drop of water in the desert. The desert is heated by scorching sunshine, and if we want to reduce the desert temperature, we need huge amounts of water — millions and millions of gallons. What effect will one drop have? Water certainly has value, but one drop of water cannot reduce the heat of the desert. In this material world everyone is ambitious, but the heat is very scorching. What will an imaginary castle in the air do to help? Śrīla Vidyāpati has therefore sung: tāṭala saikate, vāri-bindu-sama, suta-mita-ramaṇi-samāje. The happiness of family life, friends and society is compared to a drop of water in the scorching desert. The entire material world is busy trying to attain happiness because happiness is the prerogative of the living being. Unfortunately, due to falling in contact with the material world, the living entity simply struggles for existence.

[Srimad Bhagavatam 5.13.7]

Compared to the unlimited pleasure of Kṛṣṇa consciousness, it is like one drop of water in the desert. Everyone is seeking unlimited pleasure, but no one is becoming satisfied.

[Journey of Self Discovery, 7]