“The Lord says in Bhagavad-gita, tesham aham samuddharta. The Supreme Lord Himself takes charge of delivering such a devotee. That is the highest perfection of life. In whatever occupation one may be engaged, if he serves the Supreme Lord, he will achieve the highest perfection.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 18.46 Purport)
Jeremy’s parents took it as another phase. It started with toy cars. Their young child couldn’t get enough of them. He wanted every Hot Wheels model available. Then he wanted the race track itself. A few years later it was Garbage Pail Kids, the cards that were the craze amongst the kids in his class.
Now it was on to something new. Jeremy wasn’t subtle about any of the previous interests, and he wasn’t so with this new one either. It was baseball. He would watch baseball, talk baseball, and even sleep baseball. Using just a tennis ball, he would throw, catch and hit in the backyard day after day. His birthday was coming up and he made no secret about what he wanted.
“Mom, can you get me a baseball glove for my birthday? Please?”
“Jeremy, we’ll see. Don’t you have enough toys already?”
“Mom, this is not a toy. All the other kids have gloves and they’re able to play after school. I want to play with them, but I don’t have a glove.”
“I’ll talk to your father about it. I’m not making any promises.”
“And make sure you get the Rickey Henderson one. He’s my favorite player. I want to play outfield just like him.”
Jeremy was a good kid, and the parents had quite a fondness for him. This request wasn’t extraordinary in their minds, so they got him what he wanted. They pretended all along that they wouldn’t be getting it. They wanted it to be a surprise. On the day of his birthday, the glove was packaged in a box that led Jeremy to believe that he was getting clothes. He was pleasantly surprised.
“Oh, thank you so much. I can’t tell you how happy I am. Can I go play outside?”
“Did you finish your homework,” the parents asked.
“Yes, yes,” Jeremy replied.
“Okay, go ahead. But don’t stay out too late.”
Everyone in the house was happy, especially Jeremy. He rushed outside and walked a few blocks to where the neighborhood kids were playing baseball that day. Jeremy had wanted to join them for quite a while but felt embarrassed by not having any equipment. When he arrived, he saw someone already at bat, being pitched to by someone else. There were fielders in the various positions as well. “Oh no, maybe I’m too late,” thought Jeremy.
After the inning was over, he went to his friend Tony and asked if he could play. Tony told him that there weren’t any spots left. “You should have gotten here sooner, man,” he told Jeremy. Jeremy’s friend Alex was also there playing. Jeremy tried to see if he would give up his spot.
“Hey man, my parents just got me a Rickey Henderson glove for my birthday.”
“Oh, cool,” said Alex.
“Umm, so you think I can substitute for you in the outfield and play for a little while?”
“I don’t know. This is a really good game. Maybe you can ask someone else.”
Jeremy then became sad. No one else wanted to substitute out. He couldn’t blame them. They were just as excited as him to play. There were no more positions left. Everything was filled. Though he now had the proper equipment to play, time and circumstance got in the way. As he was sulking on the side of the road, about ready to cry, Tony came over to him.
“Hey man, we’re all filled up with spots, but we need someone to call the balls and strikes. You think you could do that for us.”
“No thanks. You don’t really need an umpire,” replied a despondent Jeremy.
“No, seriously. We need you. We almost got into a huge fight yesterday. I slid into home in the last inning, and it was going to be the winning run. I thought our team had won, but then the catcher said that I was out. We got into a big argument, and other kids had to come in and separate us. It would be great if you could be our umpire for today.”
Though Jeremy knew his friend was taking pity on him, he eventually agreed. And in fact, he had a great time participating in the game for that day. He quickly forgot about his past misfortune. Though they didn’t really need an umpire, it was very kind of Tony to have made that gesture.
Many years later, Tony and Jeremy were still friends. One day Jeremy was explaining to Tony how in devotional service, or bhakti-yoga, actual ability is not so important.
“Have you heard of the caste system?” asked Jeremy.
“I think so. There’s a bunch of castes and then there’s one that’s so low that they’re called untouchable, right,” asked Tony.
“Well, that’s the general perception, anyway. The system is actually meant to be based on work and qualities. Every person fits into a certain type of occupation. Some are meant to be priests, others leaders, others businessmen, and others workers. The idea is that everyone should take up the role best suited for them, and then in this way society functions properly. And it’s not supposed to be based on birth at all.”
“Oh, okay. That makes sense.”
“Bhakti-yoga, however, is above even those occupations. Even if you don’t fit into any type of role in society, you’re still eligible to serve the Supreme Lord. If you have a strong desire to serve Him, then He might even take the impetus to find something for you to do.”
“Yeah, like that time when we were kids and I was umpire for that neighborhood baseball game. You were really nice and let me be the umpire since all the other spots were filled for the day. And even though we didn’t need an umpire, it turned out to be beneficial to all.”
“Was that the day you got the new glove from your parents,” asked Tony.
“Yeah. I was really excited that day,” replied Jeremy.
“That was a nice glove.”
“So Shri Krishna is the same way. He doesn’t need service from anyone, if you think about it. He is God. Since He is satisfied in Himself, He is known as atmarama. But He knows that we are happiest serving Him, so He is so merciful that any person, regardless of their status in society, can worship Him and find perfection in life. The simplest method is the chanting of the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.”
Despite without any ability to be,
Lotus feet of Krishna can see.
In whatever fit and apt occupation,
Chance there is for devotion.
From sublime service none excluded,
All castes and orders of life included.
With holy names to everyone chance giving,
For in ecstasy of His company to be living.