“In pure devotional service one comes to the realization that God is great and that the individual soul is subordinate to Him. His duty is to render service to the Lord – if not, then he will render service to maya.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 12.6-7)
Bhagavan – the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Ajita – the unconquerable one. Achyuta – the infallible one. Anadi – the one without a beginning. Paramatma – the Supersoul, as distinguished from the individual soul, jivatma. Deva Deva – the god of gods. Krishna – the all-attractive one.
These are different names for the Divine provided by Vedic literature. Some of these names are used to address the Divine incarnate as He plays the role of chief spiritual master to the world in a conversation held on a battlefield one time. There was only one disciple, but the instruction is applicable to all living beings, from all time periods.
The quick summary to those teachings is that one should be devoted to God in thought, word and deed. With that as the priority, every other issue gets taken care of. As any person can make this claim about their idea of Divinity, one way to get further clarity and understanding is to study what happens when this devotion isn’t practiced.
1. You will succeed
Take a look around you. There are plenty of successful people. They are in various departments of the material creation. Some are great businessmen. They own many large properties. They have a private jet. They have a staff that caters to their every need. They are not satisfied with what they have; they are always looking to increase, to succeed more. Others excel in sports, some in entertainment, and there are even people of modest means who are still famous for showing exceptional ability in a particular area of importance.
Now, do these people talk about God? They may mention Him now and then, but they are not particularly known for their devotion. Rare it is to find someone in this world who is after knowledge of the self, and rarer still to locate someone who has succeeded in getting that knowledge.
Despite not being devoted full-time to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, there is success. The reason is that you don’t need the Divine’s direct sanction to set a goal and then later achieve it. You will find success, whether large or small, if you neglect God.
2. You will fail
Even the most successful person fails. The rich businessman may have an inkling to run for political office one day. It is not guaranteed that they will win, even if they spend loads of money in a campaign. That same person may also be a failure at parenting; since their business requires full attention. Neglect of family is only to be expected, a sacrifice that unfortunately they have to make.
No one in this world possesses every opulence in full and simultaneously. The beautiful person may not be very intelligent. The strong person may not be very wealthy. As a person will be deficient in some area, it means that they will find failure. The failure could be over something large, like running a business, or small, like missing a flight due to traffic.
3. You will find happiness
When Krishna was speaking to Arjuna on the battlefield of Kurukshetra, happiness was an important issue for the disciple. He was set to proceed in a war that his side was likely to win. That victory would not make him happy, nor would ruling over the kingdom afterwards. As part of His teachings, Krishna brilliantly explained happiness and sadness in a single verse.
“O son of Kunti, the nonpermanent appearance of happiness and distress, and their disappearance in due course, are like the appearance and disappearance of winter and summer seasons. They arise from sense perception, O scion of Bharata, and one must learn to tolerate them without being disturbed.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.14)
The ways of the material world are that happiness comes on its own. The best example is the rising of the sun in the morning. There is no prayer made for that to happen. There is no work put in to make sure that the bright, soothing, and warm light from the sun appears on time. It happens on its own. The same goes for the seasons, such as with spring and summer arriving to melt the frost of winter.
4. You will find sadness
There is duality in the material world. Paired with success is failure. Darkness is the other side of light. So just as happiness comes on its own, so does sadness. Distress is not directly tied to worship of the Almighty or lack thereof. You are enjoying the warm days of summer, but eventually autumn comes. The leaves change color, and the crisp evening air is still tolerable. Then comes the bitter cold of winter. You are not responsible for its arrival. In the same way sadness comes on its own in the journey through life.
5. You will serve maya
These different aspects of the material world are incorporated into the illusory energy known as maya. Another set of circumstances in duality is birth and death. In between those two events a person meets a variety of experiences. Birth and death, in association with maya, are the result of neglecting worship of the Divine.
Devotional service brings the escape from the cycle of birth and death. It brings permanent happiness, constantly expanding as time moves on, with no negative influence on the transcendental bodies of the people that serve. Krishna Himself is nava-yauvanam, always fresh and new. The gift of eternal youth is granted to the devotees as well, who enjoy the different seasons in the spiritual world, as there is no death for the person who is always devoted to God the person.
Getting from Gita’s final instruction,
Abandon varieties, follow devotion.
From neglect then what to come,
Enjoyment in this world none?
Both success and failure to find,
Happy and sad also in mind.
Illusory energy of maya serve you will,
In bhakti’s bliss time to stand still.
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