How Renounced Are You

[Krishna with the fruit vendor]“While Krishna was going to the fruit vendor very hastily, most of the grains He was holding fell. Nonetheless, the fruit vendor filled Krishna’s hands with fruits, and her fruit basket was immediately filled with jewels and gold.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 10.11.11)

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phala-vikrayiṇī tasya


phalair apūrayad ratnaiḥ

phala-bhāṇḍam apūri ca


The claim is that bhakti-yoga is the culmination of all yoga practices, all religions, all systems of maintenance, all things that you would do to try to improve yourself. Naturally, this would mean that if you want happiness of any kind, you should try devotional service directed to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, practiced without motivation and without interruption. Whatever you were doing previously for finding happiness, know that it won’t remain forever, if it worked to begin with.

Happiness should incorporate different sides to a material existence. What do we mean by this? It’s obvious to see the first side: collection. Observe the behavior of children.

“Dad, can I have this toy, please? My friend from school, his dad got it for him. It’s so cool. It doesn’t even cost that much. I promise that I’ll never ask for anything ever again. I would be so happy if I got this toy.”

The thinking parent might deny the request because from their own experience they know that one single object does not buy total happiness. That new car that is cherished one day becomes an outdated model that must be replaced. If I badly want to eat something today, if I overindulge in it I likely won’t want to eat it again tomorrow.

This side of happiness is the enjoyment of objects. The other side is renunciation. Think of the car alarm blaring outside.

“Oh my God, who is the idiot that left their car on the street like this for everyone to hear? I can’t do anything right now. I can’t sleep. I can’t watch television. I can’t work. I try to put headphones on, but the sound from the car is so profound that it penetrates through the shield that is my favorite music. If only this alarm would stop. Then I would be so happy.”

When something unwanted goes away, there is happiness. These are two sides to interaction: enjoyment and renunciation. It is said that one who follows bhakti-yoga gets all the opulences of the residents of heaven. Think of a heavenly resident like a chief minister in government. The members of government get extra perks due to the powers invested in them. They are in a kind of elevated status, and people generally respect them.

The residents of the heavenly realm have enhanced opulences, but they had to work for them. Ascension to heaven is the gift that comes from living a pious life. Think of all the rules and regulations you hear from higher authorities. “Don’t lie. Don’t covet another’s wife. Worship on these days. Be charitable.” Following these rules gets you to heaven.

If you follow bhakti-yoga, you get these things automatically. You don’t need to work very hard for them, either. You get your enjoyment. It comes as frequently as the rain that falls from the sky or the sunshine emitted by the rising sun. You get renunciation too, which is often forgotten. You don’t need to make a show of this renunciation, either. You are not required to give up everything and take up residence in a remote cave situated in a mountain. You don’t need to climb five miles up a hill to find a spot for meditation to get a moment’s sighting of the divine energy.

What is required in bhakti-yoga is love. Just love God without any motive. Then you’ll see renunciation. Others will see it too, though you’re not particularly trying to show it. Take the example of the fruit vendor in Vrindavana. Though by her occupation it would seem that she was attached to profit and her commodities, based on a single gesture we see that she was anything but. She simply carried out her specific duties, all the while maintaining love for the most cherished object in the world.

[Lord Krishna]The Supreme Lord lives in Vrindavana. He is there right now, though the people lacking bhakti cannot see it. He was visible to all eyes in Vrindavana some five thousand years ago. Living in the home of Nanda Maharaja, one day He excitedly ran towards the fruit vendor. Only a small child at the time, He tried to purchase fruits by giving grains in exchange. The problem was that He didn’t have many grains to give. Nanda was not poor; it’s just that the grains fell out of the tiny hands of the darling child.

The vendor did not care. She gave Him more fruits than if He had purchased ordinarily, in the right way. Krishna, the name for the Supreme Lord that means “all-attractive,” held those fruits happily in His hands. The vendor did not want anything in return. She was ready to give her entire basket of fruits if Krishna could hold them. In this way she was completely renounced. She did not have to work for it; though perhaps in a previous life she had followed the rules and regulations of spiritual life rigidly.

[Lord Krishna holding fruits]Renunciation arising naturally from bhakti-yoga is safe. The yogi does not have to worry about how they will live. Krishna takes care of them. With the fruit vendor, He transformed the contents of her basket into valuable jewels. She did not ask Him to do this, but then if someone loves us we don’t have any power over how they show it. A kind aunt gives us money every time we see them, and we can’t refuse. If a grandmother constantly feeds us out of affection, we do not have the power to say “no.”

In the same way, the fruit vendor had to accept the jewels from Krishna, knowing full well that her real wealth was her love for the darling child. Anyone can automatically get the same renunciation through harboring affection for just the sound that addresses the child. Through only chanting His names with faith and attention, all good qualities come very easily: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

In Closing:

To happiness existing sides two,

Enjoyment but renunciation too.


Renounced bhakti’s followers are,

Take example from time away far.


In the sacred Vrindavana land,

Where boy carried grains in His hand.


Fruit vendor to Him everything giving,

Fear of profit or loss not living.

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