“In the human society, whether one is a laborer, merchant, warrior, administrator, or farmer, or even if one belongs to the highest class and is a literary man, a scientist or a theologian, he has to work in order to maintain his existence. The Lord therefore tells Arjuna that he need not give up his occupation, but while he is engaged in his occupation he should remember Krishna.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, Introduction)
He is the all-attractive one. He has done so much for me. No matter how hectic life gets, I can always count on Him to calm me down. Baby screaming in the background? Spouse complaining about the brand of juice I picked up from the supermarket? Boss upset that I am behind in that major project at the office?
Everything gets forgotten with a single look at the deity, worshiped in the proper way in the house established for such a purpose. There is the goddess of fortune to His left. She brings so much happiness to Him. They have both been very kind to me. I could never repay the favoritism shown to me in this life, in the experiences that I can remember.
In following bhakti-yoga life, by taking seriously the recommendation of the acharyas that the human birth is meant for the purpose of finishing the cycle of reincarnation, I may feel the need to endeavor beyond my capacity to work.
1. Acquire the energy of an elephant
“That one person I know spends the entire daylight hours in sankirtana on the streets. They chant the holy names in front of people they have never met: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
“Another member of the same team distributes literature. They pass on the sacred wisdom of the Bhagavad-gita. Every person is in need of that knowledge. Even if they already acknowledge faith in God, in an Almighty figure, it can never hurt to learn more about Him. Bhagavad-gita is something like the science behind religion, the detail to the abstract, the clarity to the issues previously unresolved.
“In contrast, what am I doing? I am so lazy. I could at least work as hard as these people. If I am not skilled in chanting, singing or explaining, I might try manual labor. Following the way of the elephant; work to the point of exhaustion. At least then I won’t feel like a slacker.”
2. Become very learned
“The guru published so many works of importance. Translations and commentaries on sacred texts in the Sanskrit language and those derived from it, like Bengali and Hindi. I grew up learning only English. Perhaps I should study Sanskrit, as well. I know that it requires years to master, but if I become very learned in the discipline, I will be able to do my own translations.
“Then I could speak extemporaneously on the science of self-realization. I could inspire others to accept the bhakti-path, to worship God the person, in the original form of Shri Krishna, who is always accompanied by Shrimati Radharani.”
3. Utilize the full potential of intelligence
“Becoming a scholar is one thing, but I could also utilize intelligence to the full. Be smart in all areas; not just one. I see people are expert in their particular field, but I want to know everything. Cooking, cleaning, running a business, singing songs, dealing with important leaders in society, organizing festivals – nothing should be out of my reach. If someone asks me to do something, I should never be compelled to decline due to lack of ability.”
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada advises that a person should not necessarily have to learn anything new when taking up bhakti-yoga. It is surely wonderful if a skill gets acquired that can be utilized in pleasing the Supreme Personality of Godhead, but any genuine and sincere effort is appreciated.
If one person is operating with the energy of an elephant and another person gets tired more quickly, as long as there is devotion in the authorized work Krishna is pleased. He does not make distinctions on the level of expertise, but rather on the level of devotion.
The gopis of Vrindavana are the topmost devotees, according to the opinion of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. They are ordinary village girls; not highly learned brahmanas or expert warriors on the battlefield. The qualification is based on the pure devotion, and the followers of bhakti follow in their footsteps as both a way of paying honor and also pleasing Krishna and guru.
Maybe like elephant can be,
Where tremendous energy to free.
Or highly learned books explaining,
A respected position attaining.
But then for the gopis proclaimed,
As best by Mahaprabhu explained.
Since Krishna the bhakti to assess,
Both low and high to success.
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