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Who Bears the Burden of Life

a conversation with Ramana Maharshi

Music: Govardhana Giridhara by Sri Narayana Teertham

Who Bears the Burden of Life - Narrator: Peter Malakoff

One day


a man came to Ramana who was very worried

and anxious about his own life.

After listening to him, Maharshi sat for a while and then spoke:


Bhagavan: Now, I will ask you a question . . .

When a man gets on a train, where does he put his luggage?


Devotee: Either in the compartment or in the luggage van.


Bhagavan: He doesn't carry it on his head or in his lap while on the train?


Devotee: Only a fool would do so.


Bhagavan: It is a thousand times more foolish to bear your own burden once you have undertaken the spiritual quest,

whether by the path of knowledge or devotion.


Devotee: But can I relinquish all my responsibilities,

all my commitments?

Bhagavan: You remember the temple tower?

There are many statues on it, aren't there?

Arunachaleswara Temple, Tiruvannamalai

- Arunachala in background


Well, there are four big ones at the base,

one at each corner. Have you seen them?


Devotee: "Yes"

Devotee: Yes.

Bhagavan: Well, I tell you that the huge tower

is supported by these four statues.

Devotee: How is that possible? What does Bhagavan mean?


Bhagavan: "I mean to say that is no more foolish than saying that you bear all the cares, burdens and responsibilities of life.

The Lord of the Universe bears the whole burden.

You only imagine that you do.


"You can hand over all your burdens to Him.

Whatever you have to do, you will be made an instrument for doing it

at the right time.

Do not imagine that you cannot do it unless you have the desire to;

It is not 'desire' that gives you the necessary strength;

the strength is the Lord's."

I am reminded of a story in the Bhagavatam Purana:  

Lord Krishna holding up Govardhana Hill with the Gavam (cows)

Gopis (female cowherds) and the Gopas (male cowherds) underneath 

 and they are helping Lord Krishna with their sticks

"Lord Krishna told the Yadavas, 

his cowherding and farming kinsmen,

that the worship of Indra, or any of the elemental deities 

to produce rain or avoid drought was not needed.

Those who worshipped the Supreme God (in Truth), 

did all that was necessary.


"Indra grew incensed when his worship or puja was not performed

and he sent huge and terrible rain clouds to deluge the village.

Everyone became terrified and the cows with their calves

went to Krishna to ask for His help.


"Lord Krishna picked up Govardhana Hill, on his little finger

and for seven whole days, He held it above his people 

and the cows and their calves,

to protect them from the rains of Indra."


In the picture you can see above (and below),

the cowherds and cowherdesses are holding up their canes and sticks

to help support the mountain


As Bhagavan told the man in the story above, 

the people only imagine they are helping,


'The strength is the Lord's'.

Indian miniature of Lord Krishna holding up Gowardhana Hill

Krishna holding up Govardhana Hill,

Wall Carving at Mamallapuram, Tamil Nadu

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