“Some things which give impetus or stimulation to ecstatic love of Krishna are His transcendental qualities, His uncommon activities, His smiling features, His apparel, His garlands, His flute, His buffalo horn, His leg bells, His conchshell, His footprints, His places of pastimes (such as Vrindavana), His favorite plant (tulasi), His devotee and the periodical occasions for remembering Him.” (The Nectar Of Devotion, Ch 26)
Bhakti-yoga is an active engagement. It is the pinnacle of spiritual life, open for entry to any person, with the simple requirement of sincerity. The pretender will not get much out of the process. Maybe some ajnata-sukriti, or meritorious credit accumulated unknowingly, to pay dividends at a later date.
Bhakti-yoga is not about pledging loyalty to a particular institution, attending a house of worship on a regular basis, a blind acknowledgement of a particular savior, or something based only on faith. It is not just about giving up things, either, for even when restricted from sense enjoyment the taste for the objects may still remain.
Bhakti-yoga is ultimately about meeting the needs of the soul, which has a dharma. This is the essential characteristic of something, and for the individual, who is spirit at the core, the defining quality is service. Everyone serves to some degree. In bhakti-yoga finally try the service that will bring the most happiness.
The service is directed towards a particular object, which is also a person or individual. That person just happens to be the most powerful, the most amazing, and the most kind. Since He is all-attractive, one name for Him is Krishna. In service to Him there are many things which give impetus to loving emotions, which are ecstatic.
1. His footprints
That’s correct. Just look at a footprint left by Krishna and you will feel amazing ecstasy. It might not be there at the beginning. After all, it takes many lifetimes for a person to know Krishna in truth, that He is the cause of all causes.
“After many births and deaths, he who is actually in knowledge surrenders unto Me, knowing Me to be the cause of all causes and all that is. Such a great soul is very rare.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.19)
Effort should be taken to avoid a wrong impression at the outset. For this reason worship in the temple is done extravagantly, to show God as the most opulent, which He is. Moreover, the viewing is not available throughout the day. He is the preferred guest in the preferred home, ready to bless the fortunate with His vision.
Through purification in bhakti practices, under the guidance of a bona fide spiritual master, there comes a day when just looking at Krishna’s footprint brings so much ecstasy. The feet of Krishna are amazing; they are not limited in the ordinary way. Though God has no feet, He can run faster than the wind. Those feet, which are transcendental in nature, are also like the lotus flower.
The special potency of those feet is one reason devotees wear a mark of the footprint on their forehead. This is to formally identify as servant in the occupation of bhakti, but also to give others the chance to feel ecstasy in a simple and easy way.
2. His places of pastimes
Though God is without a body, He still appears on this earth. He is both nirguna and saguna, which can be compared to the sun during the day and the night. During the day we say the sun is out, and at night we say that it has set. The sun’s existence is actually independent of the external viewpoint.
In the same way God is always transcendental. Nirguna refers to one way to see Him, where He is apparently invisible. Saguna is where the transcendental features are more perceptible; where God can be identified.
The saguna forms come to this world and others and perform pastimes. For every action there is an actor, a time, and a place. The places of Krishna’s pastimes become an immediate source of ecstasy. For this reason so many spiritual seekers travel to places like Vrindavana, where Krishna roamed the earth in a childhood form some five thousand years ago.
3. His favorite plant
Just as God is amazing, so are His devotees. His favorite plant is tulasi, who is actually a goddess. A test can be made. Simply worship the tulasi plant every day with a little water. Chant the maha-mantra in front of her: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Just as with the footprint, the vision of tulasi can bring so much ecstasy. Narada Muni, one of Krishna’s dearest representatives in teaching and spreading the science of self-realization, one time transformed a hunter into a devotee by recommending the simple process of tulasi worship.
4. His devotee
Tulasi is Krishna’s devotee. The saint wearing the tilaka mark on the forehead, practicing bhakti-yoga, and giving the holy names to others is also a devotee. Seeing them brings tremendous ecstasy because it means that there are others in this world who can help. They can bring God to life, at a time when He otherwise seems invisible and elusive.
5. The periodic occasions for remembering Him
Material life is a struggle. There are many ups and downs, like the waves of the ocean. Sometimes there is attention paid to spiritual life, but even the most genuine seekers may veer off track from time to time.
To ensure that ecstasy will still be felt there are the periodic occasions for remembering Krishna. These are like special holidays on the annual calendar. Feel ecstasy on Janmashtami, the appearance day anniversary for Shri Krishna. Feel ecstasy again to celebrate Govardhana Hill, which is a special mass of land that was graced many times by the lotus feet of Shri Krishna. There are occasions specifically for Krishna’s many incarnations as well. Everything is well-arranged for the sincere devotee to not only succeed in ending the cycle of birth and death, but also feel tremendous joy throughout the process.
Not just for renunciation with attachments none,
Also for tremendous ecstasy to come.
Impetus for that situation to create,
Like periodic occasions to celebrate.
The beloved tulasi plant seeing,
And footprint in tilaka mark being.
Traveling to Vrindavana pastimes place,
Endless chances for bhakti’s shining grace.
Categories: the five