“Once Narada took a parijata flower and presented it to Krishna’s senior wife, Shri Rukminidevi. On account of this, Satyabhama developed an inferiority complex; she also wanted a flower from Krishna.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 2, Ch 4)
Friend1: One of the prominent teachings in the beginning stages of bhakti life is to not think of the Supreme Lord, Shri Krishna, as an order supplier.
Friend2: He should not be viewed like an online retail outlet. Give some money in return for a product. Any subsequent defect and you run the risk of a negative review. The seller better be perfect in their delivery.
Friend1: I get that such a relationship would not qualify as love. You are exploiting someone else. Granted, the entire world operates in this manner. The free-mingling between the sexes; attractive to me today but later on maybe not. I stay with you because of how much money you make. Fortune turns the other way and so will I.
Friend2: Which is another cause for glorification of the goddess of fortune, Sita Devi. Her husband went from almost-king of a respected community to a wandering homeless man overnight. She had lived in royalty her whole life. She didn’t know anything else, and yet she voluntarily accepted the same hardships placed upon her husband, Shri Rama.
Friend1: Pure devotion has no material motivation mixed in.
Friend2: Granted, sometimes even what we consider to be spiritual is actually material.
Friend1: Such as?
Friend2: Pious behavior. Elevation to the heavenly realm. Successful execution of a religious ritual. Worship of a higher personality in the hopes of auspiciousness in home, family, job, or health.
Friend1: I see. Sure. I’ve also heard it said that the gopis of Vrindavana particularly stand out in this area because they never ask anything of Krishna.
Friend2: They only give. Like the famous story of Krishna having a headache. He asks for the dust of the feet of devotees as a remedy. Narada Muni searches for volunteers but has a difficult time finding any. The gopis agree as soon as they hear. They are not afraid of any perceived offense of smearing dust on the head of the Supreme Lord. They will risk the condemnation to hell, if necessary.
Friend1: Hanuman doesn’t ask anything of Rama, either. I understand why the exalted people are viewed that way. The thing is, we know from the history documented in the Vedas that so many people ask the Supreme Lord for stuff.
Friend2: Doesn’t everybody?
Friend1: I mean devotees. Sugriva wants a favor before helping Rama. Vibhishana surrenders after getting kicked out of Lanka by Ravana. With Krishna-lila, there is Satyabhama asking for a parijata plant.
Friend2: She is one of the principal queens in Dvaraka. It is only natural for a wife to ask her husband for things.
Friend1: Yes, but isn’t that impure devotion? That is what I am getting at. Even those on the spiritual platform ask Krishna to help them. The cowherd boys in Vrindavana want Krishna and Balarama to deal with an asura in Talavana. This is for the purpose of tasting fruits.
Friend2: Yes; the Dhenuka episode.
Friend1: Here is where I stump you, though.
Friend1: Take the situation of parents. I believe that is quite analogous. They have several children.
Friend1: I have observed that the children who seek the most assistance, who ask for this and that from the parents, get the most affection in return.
Friend2: You think so?
Friend1: Yes. Wouldn’t you behave the same? Granted, I love a child who never bothers me, who never puts me into difficulty. At the same time, I am ready to help. At least with the other children I feel needed. I am more than willing to help them.
Friend2: Shri Rama makes a similar analogy when once speaking to Narada Muni. He explains that the devotees treated like special children always get His extra attention. The ones that fly off and become independent are not as favored.
Friend1: Right, so then why become a pure devotee? That is where I am confused. Why not keep asking for stuff if you are treated better?
Friend2: You have to keep the devotional aspect in mind. If you view Krishna as only an order supplier, then that is impure devotion. If you are already with Him, wherein you can never abandon Him for any reason, then there is no issue. With the order supplier mindset, if Bhagavan doesn’t come through, then I will abandon Him. Whereas Satyabhama will always offer service and keep the loving attitude even if she doesn’t receive a parijata plant. Same applies for the cowherd boys in Vrindavana.
Friend1: I guess that makes sense. You have to reach a certain platform first, and then the natural course of the relationship takes shape.