Burdens of Love

Mother Yashoda with Krishna“Shrila Vishvanatha Chakravarti describes the burden of love very practically. He says that the burden of the husband on the young wife, the burden of the child on the lap of the mother, and the burden of wealth on the businessman, although actually burdens from the viewpoint of heaviness, are sources of pleasure, and in the absence of such burdensome objects, one may feel the burden of separation, which is heavier to bear than the actual burden of love.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 3.3.14 Purport)

“My child is so innocent. Never before has there been any human being so beautiful. I don’t know what good work I’ve done to deserve Him in my life. He is my everything. Every day I wake up, I am so excited at the prospect of seeing Him. When He leaves for the day, I can’t wait until He comes back. At the same time, there is so much to do.

“My darling Shyamasundara has to eat. He must be properly fed. He keeps sneaking into the homes of the neighbors to steal their butter. Why won’t He eat at home? I must not be doing a good enough job as a mother. Then He spends the whole day with the calves in the pasturing grounds with His friends. I give Him lunch to eat, but it likely isn’t enough. He’s a growing boy. He needs His food. When He is at home, He wants my attention, but I need to manage the household affairs as well. The household is for His pleasure, after all. If I spent the whole time with Him, who would put food on the table? Who would prepare His bed so that He could enjoy rest?

Mother Yashoda and Krishna“He spends the day walking on the bare ground. His precious soles are too delicate to face such a burden each day. When I call Him home, He doesn’t listen. He just wants to play the day away with His friends and the cows. If the cows run away, if there is a chaotic situation, He climbs up a nearby hill and plays His flute. Then everyone listens. I must make this home more appealing for Him; otherwise He’ll never want to stay here. I will invite Vrishabhanu’s daughter to come and cook for Him. My boy really enjoys the dishes that she makes. I only want the best for my child.”

This represents the general feeling of mother Yashoda, a famous divine figure of the Vedic tradition. Though God doesn’t have a mother or a father, when He descends to earth to enact pastimes, He gives the wonderful benediction of parenthood to fortunate individuals. Yashoda plays the role of the Supreme Lord’s foster mother. And from her sentiments we see that she doesn’t simply admire the amazing qualities found only in God. She doesn’t just rest idly by and hope to have everything handed to her. Rather, having the all-attractive Krishna as her son serves as a burden. Since it is a burden of love, it is cause for so much pleasure. And fortunately for us, we can create the same burden at any time.

The business owner complains when they are stuck at the office all day with tasks. They have to manage this issue and that. The business is growing rapidly due to the profitable service offered to customers, so the increased growth means increased responsibility. A good wife takes care of the household, managing the kids, both large and small. The small kids are the children and the biggest kid is often the husband.

These responsibilities are very taxing at times, but what would life be like if they were absent? Would the businessman be happy if his company wasn’t profitable? You get rid of the profit and you get rid of the work. If the children leave the home, what would the mother do? Indeed, the resulting sadness was so commonplace that it gave rise to the term “empty nest.” What seemed like burdens before were actually welcome responsibilities. Each individual had a repeated opportunity to offer their love. It was expected of them, and so there was added impetus to offer it. In their minds, if they didn’t keep a close eye, something bad would happen.

Lord KrishnaAs love is at the core of every spirit soul, it is not surprising that the loving relationship with the Supreme Spirit would be the most worthwhile. It can also involve burdens, despite the fact that we tend to think that God is not around. In the absence of the spiritual vision, we might even be tempted to think that He doesn’t exist. Yet from the devotees and the love they feel, we know that God is real. We know that pizza is pizza based on the taste. We know that we’re listening to Beethoven through the sound that enters the ears. We know that we’re wearing silk by using the sense of touch.

In the same ways we can experience God. Sight is not our only option. Sight is susceptible to so much chicanery and illusion, so having sole reliance on it for validation of God’s existence is not very wise. We experience God through distinct actions, and when we make those actions a daily responsibility, we essentially create burdens of love.

What are some examples?

The spiritual masters who are devotees of the personal Supreme Lord, Shri Krishna, advise their disciples to chant the maha-mantra, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare,” a minimum of sixteen rounds a day on a set of japa beads. This daily routine creates a pressing responsibility at the beginning of each day. Chanting this mantra so many times is not very easy. It takes time. To spend time requires a balancing of priorities. It also requires commitment. If you’ve reached the end of the day and you still haven’t chanted your rounds, you will feel a lot of pressure.

But what is the benefit in chanting?

Mother YashodaThe holy name is non-different from the Lord. Saying “Krishna” and “Rama” is like hearing God. You may not believe so in the beginning, but through enough chanting, through following the sixteen round routine, you begin to slowly realize this fact. You also enjoy the process more, becoming more eager to chant your rounds each day. Though the routine is a burden, it is one rooted in love. The mind thinks, “If I don’t chant today, my guru will be disappointed. Also, I’ll miss out on the opportunity to experience God through sound. What else in my life could be more important? If I miss my chanting, it means that I’ve assigned higher priority to some other activity. It means that I don’t love the Supreme Lord as much as I say I do.”

Mother Yashoda thinks that if she doesn’t cook for Krishna, the Lord will starve. Obviously Krishna can never starve, but notice that the Lord doesn’t do anything to change the mentality of Yashoda. She derives great pleasure from her responsibilities in bhakti-yoga, or devotional service. Why would the Supreme Lord, the object of that love, do anything to tarnish the relationship? In the same way, if He sees that we are sincere, He will give us so many tasks to complete on a daily basis. When we think that He will suffer if we fail to complete them, then we will be fully immersed in divine love, which is the soul’s constitutional position.

In Closing:

When so many great products to sell,

Of burden businessman will tell.


When for children and husband to cook,

Mother great responsibility on shoulders took.


But what if these suddenly gone,

On what object actions to hinge upon?


Burden in such cases actually sweet,

Pleasure in having obligations to meet.


Responsibility towards Krishna create,

And methodically reach the divine state.


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