She's a Barbie Girl in a Barbie world
by Nityananda Dasa
Everybody, at least in the West, knows the famous Barbie Doll.
Gaining immense popularity with the children, the cute and always pretty doll called Barbie is a go-to toy for many young girls all around the world. Young girls and boys like to play with the dolls, dressing them with all kinds of clothing, decorating them with makeup, brushing their hair, washing them and creating imaginary scenarios that can keep a child entertained for hours on end.
Over the six decades of being on the global market, the Barbie doll has sold over one billion times and just recently the "Barbie Movie" has come to the theaters, instantly becoming a hit success all around the world.
How is it possible that such a simple thing as a doll can be so popular with so many millions of children all around the world?
What is the secret behind everyone's obsession with Barbie?
Srila Prabhupada says that the propensity to worship dolls is also shared in greatly elevated souls, nitya siddhas. He writes:
"From his very birth, Uddhava was a natural devotee of Lord Kṛṣṇa, or a nitya-siddha, a liberated soul. From natural instinct he used to serve Lord Krsna, even in his childhood. He used to play with dolls in the form of Krsna, he would serve the dolls by dressing, feeding and worshiping them, and thus he was constantly absorbed in the play of transcendental realization. These are the signs of an eternally liberated soul. An eternally liberated soul is a devotee of the Lord who never forgets Him. Human life is meant for reviving one’s eternal relation with the Lord, and all religious injunctions are meant for awakening this dormant instinct of the living entity. The sooner this awakening is brought about, the quicker the mission of human life is fulfilled." (SB 3.2.2. Purport)
Of course, the deity of Krsna is not a normal doll, but the child can awaken his dormant Krsna consciousness by simply playing with such a doll, since he is meditating on the transcendental form of Krsna. In this way, the fortunate child will awaken his natural love of God from within the heart. In the same purport, Srila Prabhupada continues:
"In India the children in good families are still given dolls of the Lord like Rama and Krsna, or sometimes the demigods, so that they may develop the aptitude of service to the Lord. By the grace of the Lord we were given the same opportunity by our parents, and the beginning of our life was based on this principle."
Everything material and spiritual is emanating from Krsna!
According to this purport we can understand the real, pure activity of playing with "dolls." The children in India would be given a replica of deities and they would be tasked to take nice care of them. That includes bathing, dressing, worshiping etc. With this activity, even a child can engage in Krsna consciousness, although he may not have any philosophical knowledge at all.
Since Krsna consciousness is the natural consciousness within everyone's soul, there is no previous material requirement, such as age, for example, to start the process of worshiping Krsna and awakening our dormant Krsna consciousness; the pure state of every living being.
Unfortunately, because the general public is blind to self realization, aka Krsna consciousness, they are now very much attracted to short-term sense gratificatory pleasures such as watching cinema.
In the past, the general public would wake up very early and visit the temple every morning simply to see the beautiful transcendental forms of the Supreme Lord Krsna and His divine consort, Srimati Radharani.
Today however, the same people will instead visit the cinema in order to see the material, temporary form of Barbie and her consort Ken, being broadcast on a big screen.
This is, however, just a perverted reflection of our true desire, to see and worship the beautiful transcendental form of Lord Krsna.
In the Srimad Bhagavatam it is stated:
“Only attention engaged in the service of the Lord, especially in dressing and decorating the temple, accompanied by musical kirtana and spiritual instructions from scriptures, can save the common man from the hellish cinema attractions and rubbish sex-songs broadcast everywhere by radios. If one is unable to maintain a temple at home, he should go to another’s temple where all the above performances are regularly executed. Visiting the temple of a devotee and looking at the profusely decorated forms of the Lord well dressed in a well-decorated, sanctified temple naturally infuse the mundane mind with spiritual inspiration.” (SB 2.3.22 Purport)
Instead of looking at the profusely decorated forms of God, people are engaged in looking at the decorated material forms of men and women. We are always attracted to some opulence, be it either wealth, fame, power, knowledge, renunciation or beauty.
In this case, one is attracted by the opulence of beauty. One is attracted either by beauty of the spiritual transcendental form, which is eternally fresh and always increasing in beauty, or he must be attracted by the temporary beauty of the material body, which is destined to fade with the influence of time and end up as a pile of dirt buried six feet deep underground.
One who is attracted to the spiritual beauty of the Lord will experience purification of the senses and the mind. Since Krsna is supremely pure, those who associate with Him will also become supremely pure.
The unfortunate person who is not at all attracted to the infinite spiritual beauty of the Lord however is bound to be attracted to the limited beauty of the material body, and as the body eventually degrades into stool, blood and bones, similarly the consciousness of such an unfortunate person will degrade into only disgusting things such as lust, anger, greed, envy etc.
Since meditation on temporary subject matters is not at all purifying but actually degrading to one's consciousness, it is a very dangerous engagement. This is especially lamentable in spiritual practice. When devotional service is not performed under the expert guidance of a bone fide spiritual master, it can only nourish our materialistic desires, which are the perverted form of our real, spiritual desires. In this case, as the materialist goes to the cinema to see the beautiful form of Barbie for his sense enjoyment and exploitation, similarly, the so-called spiritualist will see the beautiful spiritual form of Krsna and Radharani for his own enjoyment and exploitation. Such a class of degraded persons is called sahajiya. They take devotional service very cheaply and foolishly disregard the injunctions of the scriptures and the spiritual master.
Generally, such people are engaged in fake displays of emotion towards God and may bewilder an innocent and foolish person. It is especially common for the sahajiya class to foolishly attempt to enjoy the spiritual energy of Krsna, Srimati Radharani. But to their great misfortune, when one tries to enjoy Krsna's spiritual energy for himself, she immediately transforms into material energy, and with this, the pretender devotee is tricked by Krsna, therefore his consciousness degrades to the material level and because of his offenses to Krsna, he forges his path to the hellish planets, becoming next door neighbors to the materialistic person who was engaged in "hellish cinema attractions."