“The supreme occupation [dharma] for all humanity is that by which men can attain to loving devotional service unto the transcendent Lord. Such devotional service must be unmotivated and uninterrupted to completely satisfy the self.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 1.2.6)
sa vai puṁsāṁ paro dharmo
yato bhaktir adhokṣaje
For analysis purposes, let’s take the act of falling asleep in two different situations. In one you haven’t slept in a few days. You’re starting to worry. What if another few days go by without sleep? This makes you anxious when you lay down to take rest. Though you’re supposed to be relaxing, you feel stress.
In the second situation, you have an important paper due for school. It’s on a topic you know nothing about, and it must be at least ten pages. It’s due tomorrow and you haven’t even started it yet. You’ve set aside a time to work on it, but before then you figure you’ll take some rest first. It will be good for you, you think. When you lay down, you fall asleep instantly; no problem at all.
The difference in experience is due to procrastination. Something important needs to get done; that is established. When there is a chance to avoid the important, it is easier for the mind to relax. The journey through the valuable human life as a whole can be considered a very long period of procrastination. There is something important that needs to get done. The accomplishment must come before the time of death. Achieving the goal requires intense effort and focus, however. The path of least resistance is always the easier option, and unfortunately this is the more popular path.
Consider this situation. You and your friend are at a bhakti-yoga program. This features kirtana, which is the chanting of the holy names, and lecture. A distinguished speaker sits in front of the microphone and gives a discourse on the meaning of life. He goes over the basics from the Bhagavad-gita, that the living entity is a spirit soul and not body, and that the aim of life is to become purely God conscious by the time of death.
After the program you and your friend discuss the experience. He says that he didn’t like the speaker.
“You know, that guy was pretty arrogant. I could hear it in his voice. I also know some things about him. He has made some mistakes in the past. He is not perfect, though he sits up there and acts like he is. This just goes to show you that all religions are corrupt. There is nothing pure out there. Wherever you go there are problems.”
You’re a little disheartened to hear this, as your friend is using excuses for not practicing devotional service. You try to explain to him that regardless of the perceived impurities in the speaker, the message is not tainted at all. There are two Sanskrit words relevant to the discussion: ahaituki and apratihata.
Devotional service is unmotivated and uninterrupted. If a person takes the mission seriously, then nothing can stand in the way. A famous example of strength in devotion, practiced against all odds, is Prahlada Maharaja. He lived in a place where even the exalted priests of the society were like atheists. They lived in fear of the king, Hiranyakashipu. Yet Prahlada, the king’s son, did not use these faults as excuses to avoid devotional service, which he heard about at a very young age.
Everyone was against the boy, including the powerful father. Yet without motivation and without interruption, Prahlada continued. The same is true of Haridasa Thakura, the acharya of chanting the holy name. He carried forward despite the opposition from the powerful elements in society. Valmiki was previously a highway robber. The wise words of Narada Muni turned him around. He went from a thief to a scholar and prolific writer, authoring the sacred Ramayana.
The living entity can find endless excuses to procrastinate, but the reward for giving bhakti-yoga a try is like no other. The path is open to anyone. To turn things around is not as difficult as it seems. Despite having spent lifetimes enveloped in nescience, the transcendental light can break through swiftly and fiercely. The path today is simple and straightforward. Just chant the holy names of the all-attractive Lord without fail: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Situation in society so sad,
Even bhakti teacher is bad.
Made excuses for procrastination,
Delaying trip to best destination.
Examples of Prahlada and Haridasa become aware,
And how success even when obstacles there.
Chant holy names and no more wait,
Through purity arrive at Vaikuntha’s gate.