“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)
patraṁ puṣpaṁ phalaṁ toyaṁ
yo me bhaktyā prayacchati
tad ahaṁ bhakty-upahṛtam
Your birthday is coming up. Besides being a day where everyone is generally nice to you, you also get a lot of gifts. Though you seemingly don’t need anything, your friends and family feel obligated to at least get you something. If not a physical object, they might take you out to eat.
On this particular birthday, you’re pretty sure what gift you will be getting. You’ve made it rather obvious that there is one book in particular that you’re dying to read. It’s an autobiography of your favorite football player. You’ve been talking about how interesting it is, how it contains lots of previously untold information.
The book is relatively inexpensive, but you figure there is no point in purchasing it since your birthday is on the horizon. This solves two problems. 1. You don’t have to buy it. 2. Your family doesn’t need to worry about what to get you. They know that this book will make you happy.
Well, on the day of your birthday you learn that your children and wife are giving a combined gift. In your mind, this removes the suspense even more. “Since they know I want that book, they’re not taking the risk of getting me something I won’t like. This is perfect.” You take the wrapped gift in your hand. It looks like a book. Now the only thing you have to do is fake astonishment.
As it turns out there is no need to worry about that, as when you unwrap the gift you are genuinely surprised. It is not the book you wanted. It is an autobiography, for sure, but of a different athlete. In fact, you don’t like this athlete at all. So many thoughts rush through your head. You’re a little angry. You can’t believe they messed up something so simple. This was a slam dunk. This was a one foot putt. Then you remember the gift you got your wife last year, and how she returned it the next day since she didn’t like it. You’re tempted to go off on everybody.
There is the saying, “you shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth.” The idea is that you should appreciate any offering made to you that is genuine. How is this possible when we have desires? Where do we look to get an example of the proper behavior? Not surprisingly, the Supreme Lord exemplifies this expression on a daily basis.
In order to do this, God must be a person. He must have a physical form to which offerings are brought. As He is Supreme, there is no difference between matter and spirit for Him. He can accept something through the air. He can appear on the scene through a picture that represents Him. Making an offering within the mind even qualifies. This is described in the Nectar of Devotion, where a brahmana once contemplated offering rice to the Supreme Lord, even though there was no rice around at the time.
“In some of the Puranas the evidence is given that if someone is simply meditating on devotional activities, he has achieved the desired result and has seen face to face the Supreme Personality of Godhead.” (The Nectar of Devotion, 10)
God as the most attractive person is Krishna. In the Bhagavad-gita Krishna says that He will accept a fruit, a flower, a leaf or water offered to Him with love and devotion. This statement is significant. Krishna mentions simple items. He does not speak of an expensive meal offered at a fine dining establishment. He does not speak of rich or poor. Any person can find a fruit. Any person can grab a leaf. The majority of the earth is covered by water; there is no shortage.
The offering should be made with love and devotion. This implies that no other motive should be present. If you’re offering Him an apple in order to get rich, there may be an issue. If you want wealth from the person who has all wealth, why would you be so stingy as to only give Him an apple? Does a single apple satisfy your debt to the utility company? Does exchanging a cup of water give you a new car? Then why should you expect to get opulence for the rest of your life from a measly offering?
On the other hand, one apple can give you the whole world if you’re offering it with pure love. Even if your offering isn’t up to par, Krishna will still accept it. There is the story of His going to Vidura’s house. Vidura was a great devotee who was wrongly ostracized from his family. Vidura was considered low by the king Duryodhana since he took birth from the womb of a maidservant, shudrani. Even though he wasn’t a king, Krishna did not mind.
When Krishna went to Vidura’s house one day to visit, Vidura immediately went to offer Him food. Vidura was so much in bliss that he accidentally served Krishna banana peels instead of bananas. Krishna can eat banana peels; He does not mind. He took the offering and didn’t say anything. He did not look the gift horse in the mouth.
And who else can act that way? This means that Krishna should be the first person we satisfy every day. In Vedic rituals, He must be present, even if there is material motive. He is known as Yajneshvara since every reward ultimately comes from Him. The wise therefore sacrifice everything they have for Krishna’s pleasure. Since He is all-compassion, love for Him never goes in vain. It is always rewarded accordingly.
Be nice when present from loved ones took,
Not like in mouth of the gift-horse to look.
From Shri Krishna get ideal example,
Who satisfied by apple even a sample.
When going to Vidura’s house as guest,
Considered banana peels as tasty the best.
Always satisfied, no matter the size,
To devotees divine mercy giving prize.