Three Objections A Young Person Might Hear Upon Taking Up Bhakti

[Shri Krishna]“Being beyond the range of limited sense perception [adhokshaja], You are the eternally irreproachable factor covered by the curtain of deluding energy. You are invisible to the foolish observer, exactly as an actor dressed as a player is not recognized.” (Queen Kunti speaking to Lord Krishna, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 1.8.19)

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अज्ञाधोक्षजम् अव्ययम्
न लक्ष्यसे मूढ-दृशा
नटो नाट्यधरो यथा

ajñādhokṣajam avyayam
na lakṣyase mūḍha-dṛśā
naṭo nāṭyadharo yathā

Kunti Devi, the mother of the Pandava family described in the Mahabharata and other works of Vedic literature, once praised the Supreme Lord for His great acting ability. He is able to appear in the manifest world and somehow hide His Divine status from so many.

अव्यक्तं व्यक्तिम् आपन्नं
मन्यन्ते माम् अबुद्धयः
परं भावम् अजानन्तो
ममाव्ययम् अनुत्तमम्

avyaktaṁ vyaktim āpannaṁ
manyante mām abuddhayaḥ
paraṁ bhāvam ajānanto
mamāvyayam anuttamam

“Unintelligent men, who know Me not, think that I have assumed this form and personality. Due to their small knowledge, they do not know My higher nature, which is changeless and supreme.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.24)

Devotees notice this amazing ability and appreciate it. They continue in their devotional path, bhakti-yoga, without hesitation. They do not fear they are missing out on other aspects of life, which form part of the opposition a young person is likely to hear when first making the choice in favor of the transcendental light.

1. Don’t you want to enjoy more

The idea is that genuine spiritual life has vairagya at the foundation. This is the lack of attachment; renunciation. Giving things up. The objects and people which are renounced typically generate attachments easily.

Take caffeinated drinks, for example. A child likely has no exposure to this. They are fine on their own. Enough energy to carry out what needs to be done, they are so engrossed in play that they forget to eat and sleep. The parents have to give reminders and set boundaries.

[soda]In adulthood things change. Just a few drinks with a stimulating substance as an ingredient are enough to create a habit. The addiction is so strong that foregoing the indulgence for a few days can bring unwanted health side effects, like headaches and lethargy.

Vairagya in the complete sense is that much more difficult. If a young person is seen giving up eating meat, smoking and drinking, illicit sex, and gambling, others may start to worry:

“You are supposed to enjoy. What is this renunciation going to do for you? It’s torture for no reason. Don’t try to be different just for the sake of being different. Give normal life a chance.”

2. You have your whole life ahead of you

This objection ties into the first, adding the time component.

“If you are going to take away the fun in life, at least wait until later on. You are so young. The world is in front of you. There is a lifetime’s worth of experiences to shape your thinking. Just don’t throw everything away already. I ask that you not give up so soon.”

3. Bhakti is for old people

Every person in the opposition party deep down understands the tentative nature of the stay in the present body. They know that death is on the horizon and that something will need to be done at an appropriate time. They may not know exactly what to do or to where the body will go next, so the easier choice is to simply postpone the inevitable.

“I get it that you believe in God. So do I, okay? I just don’t see why you have to engage in all of this stuff right now. At least wait until you are already established. When everything else is settled, that is a good time.”

As Narada Muni was cursed by Daksha for supposedly spoiling the minds of the future generation, so the person spreading the glories of Bhagavan and devotion to Him is considered to be ruining the fun. It is something like watching a television program and having conscious awareness throughout that the depiction is fake, that the characters are hired actors carrying out rehearsed lines and scenes.

[Shri Krishna]While the enhanced understanding may spoil the experience of life in maya, there is an endless ocean of bliss awaiting the person who attaches themselves to the lotus feet of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Rather than lament the situation of guaranteed death, they become liberated within this very lifetime, jivan-mukta. They appreciate so many aspects of life, with the notable distinction being the dovetailing of the work with Shri Krishna, who is indeed the most expert actor.

In Closing:

By naysayers to be told,

That bhakti only for the old.

Entire lifetime in store,

What all this renunciation for?

Life in maya spoiled indeed,

But for something better proceed.

An endless ocean of bliss,

That opportunity not to miss.

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