“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)
Question: Is it really possible that God can be satisfied through an offering of fruit? Isn’t that a little too basic? Wouldn’t He want much more? Wouldn’t He want to see more creativity? Wouldn’t He expect more from us?
One of the popular types of television shows in recent years is the talent competition judged by an all-star panel. The contestants sing, dance, or display some other talent and then get judged on the spot. Taking that input, the viewers at home then vote on whom they like. The contestants with the most votes move on to the next round. The process continues until there is a winner.
Obviously the goal is to please the audience. Whoever can entertain them the best will get rewarded. Thus creativity is important as well. I can have tremendous talent in cooking, but if all I make are plain pancakes every day, it’s likely that I won’t be known for my expert cooking ability. The true range of my work won’t be on display.
If devotion to God were to be viewed in the light of a talent competition, where the Supreme Lord is the only judge, then it would seem that more talent would be required than in any other competition. After all, He has seen it all. He can see past, present and future. He already knows what we are going to do. He knows what we are capable of. He knows that man can test the limitations that are mostly self-imposed. Therefore it would make sense that God would expect the most from us.
patraṁ puṣpaṁ phalaṁ toyaṁyo me bhaktyā prayacchatitad ahaṁ bhakty-upahṛtamaśnāmi prayatātmanaḥ
“If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, fruit, or water, I will accept it.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.26)
In spite of this perceived expectation, all He directly asks of us is a simple offering of fruit or water. We can bring Him a leaf or a flower too. This doesn’t require much effort. The fruit falls on its own. If you have a coconut tree in your backyard, you just wait until the right time and then reap the harvest. You’re not even killing in this regard. If you take that fruit that has fallen and offer it to God, He will be so pleased with you.
This is a good choice because God is the person most worth pleasing. He can bestow any reward. If we pay our cable company, we get internet and television service. If we pay the grocer, we get food to eat. This offering of fruit or water may seem like a payment to God, but in fact it is not. For the business-style transaction, there are other divine authorities to approach. They operate on a first-come, first-serve basis. If they get proper worship, they have to give out the desired reward, which is material.
The key with the Supreme Lord is that the offering must be made with love and devotion. Love here means that there is no expectation of reciprocation. That is hard to do since we know that God has so much. We know that He can give us anything. The benefit to making the offering in the right way is that we may not get what we want.
How is this a benefit? Let’s say that our doctor tells us to lay off of sweets for a while to improve our health. If we ask someone very nicely to give us some sweets and they follow suit, is that good for us? They may think they are being kind, but in fact they could be killing us. In the same way, material opulence, mystic perfection and the removal of distresses through renunciation may not always be what we need. As benefactors go, only the Supreme Lord looks out for our welfare.
His being pleased by a simple offering of fruit is not a myth. The example of the fruit vendor gives us proof. One time a woman came to the home of Nanda Maharaja in Vrindavana. This is the area where Shri Krishna resides eternally. Krishna is the name for God that means “all-attractive.” The name represents a personality, as someone cannot be attractive if they are not an individual. That individual has a transcendental home that does not require external lighting. It is self-illuminating, and one who goes there never has to return to the land of birth and death.
na tad bhāsayate sūryona śaśāṅko na pāvakaḥyad gatvā na nivartantetad dhāma paramaṁ mama
“That abode of Mine is not illumined by the sun or moon, nor by electricity. One who reaches it never returns to this material world.” (Lord Krishna, Bg. 15.6)
There is a replica Vrindavana in our world. This is Krishna’s home when He descends from time to time. The fruit vendor lady had made previous trips to Nanda’s home. Shri Krishna played the role of Nanda’s son, and for this visit He ran out excitedly to greet the vendor. The method of payment was grains. Krishna saw His parents pay the vendor before, so He went and got some grains first. Since Krishna was young at the time, He couldn’t hold all of the grains in His hands. Most of them fell out by the time He reached the vendor.
What happened next might surprise you. The vendor filled Krishna’s hands with fruit. This was an offering made with love and devotion. The proper payment wasn’t there, but the vendor didn’t care. She did not want anything from Krishna, for what can a small child give? He didn’t even give the typical amount in grains. Krishna was so pleased that He transformed the contents of the vendor’s basket into jewels.
Does this mean that Krishna will give us valuable items if we offer something to Him? He most certainly will, but the thing of value will be priceless. He will give us continued devotion, which is the only reward worth seeking in an existence. The intelligent human being can go for this reward through following the regulative principles of bhakti-yoga. Through hearing the story of the fruit vendor in Vrindavana, through remembering it daily, and through always chanting the holy names the son of Nanda Maharaja will never be far from us.
Though proper payment not there,
The fruit vendor not to care.
A tiny offering of grains still,
So with fruit Krishna’s hands to fill.
From that simple gesture made,
Reward of jewels in basket paid.
Nothing too simple in bhakti you should know,
With pure heart towards Nanda’s son go.
Categories: the fruit vendor