“Persons who have acted piously in previous lives and in this life, whose sinful actions are completely eradicated and who are freed from the duality of delusion, engage themselves in My service with determination.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.28)
Friend1: Is there an ideal candidate for taking up devotional service?
Friend2: What do you mean?
Friend1: Speaking about the glories of God the person and devotion to Him is important. I know it’s what turned my life around. I am desirous of spreading the message. Is there an ideal group I should target?
Friend1: Yes. Exactly.
Friend2: I’ve been tempted to think that way too, but the premise is flawed.
Friend1: Really? But hasn’t it been shown that the sankirtana movement is more popular in certain areas of the world than others? And I’m not just talking about India. These are places that wouldn’t have it today were it not for saintly characters travelling and teaching.
Friend2: This is the magic question advertisers have been trying to figure out ever since there were products to sell. What demographics do we need to hit? What regions will be the most interested? Even in that area the science is not exact. I’m telling you, anyone can take up bhakti-yoga.
Friend1: Obviously. It’s in the nature of the soul. But you don’t think that certain people are more prone to take it up than others?
Friend2: Shri Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita that only those who have exhausted all their sinful reactions, papa, take up service to Him. That is the lone qualification.
Friend1: What about people who were accustomed to eating meat and drinking alcohol when they first heard and became attracted to the maha-mantra?
Friend2: I was getting to that. You can still be heavily involved in sin but qualify. It depends on your meritorious credits, sukriti. You may have gotten those from a previous life. They may have come in this life when you weren’t looking.
Friend1: I see. I’ve heard of that before. Ajnata-sukriti.
Friend2: Unknown; exactly. Anyway, just look to history. There was a highway robber who would kill people also. He was transformed into the sage Valmiki, who authored the famous Ramayana. There is the question of what kinds of people can be reformed by bhakti. The answer is that anyone, as high as the king of heaven and as low as the murderer.
Friend1: Why would the king of heaven need to be reformed? Isn’t he a demigod, or sura? They are mostly in the mode of goodness.
Friend2: That is a great question. Any person associating with the three modes of material nature needs some level of reform. Goodness, passion and ignorance. You are in a better situation, further along the path, by associating with the mode of goodness, but there is still a chance to slip up. Remember, Indra instigated a devastating rainstorm on innocent people without justification. They would have died were it not for Krishna’s help, His lifting of Govardhana Hill. You could say that Indra on that occasion became an attempted mass murderer. Devotion can reform anyone, and that is why the maha-mantra should always be chanted and shared with as many people as possible: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Since disgusted with material life so,
To the hippies should I first go?
Or to those of Indian family line,
More prone for in bhakti to shine?
Actually devotees anywhere to be found,
From pious family or even sinful background.
Like Valmiki who into murdering way fell,
Now the story of Shri Rama to world to tell.