“Once the Lord desired to go early in the morning with all His cowherd boy friends to the forest, where they were to assemble together and take lunch. As soon as He got up from bed, He blew a buffalo horn and called all His friends together. Keeping the calves before them, they started for the forest.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 12)
Friend1: Sometimes you play this game at a party.
Friend2: Twenty questions?
Friend1: More of a philosophical one. Not so much a game where you keep score, but a way to get people to open up. Learn something about the participants. See how they think, what they value in life, who they admire, and so forth.
Friend2: What is the game?
Friend1: If you could have dinner with one person, either living today or from past history, who would it be?
Friend2: Does it have to be a real person or is a fictional character okay?
Friend1: Whatever you like. Choosing a fictional character would make everyone else even more eager to listen, I would presume.
Friend2: What are some common answers?
Friend1: Could be a relative who has passed on. Another chance to meet with them, to hear their voice and the like.
Friend2: Oh, that’s a good one. Only so much appreciation you can show in separation.
Friend1: Another one is a president of a country from the past. Someone who knows a lot of secrets but hasn’t yet revealed them. Or maybe even a paramour.
Friend2: Right. Like if you prefer being with your wife, why not make the dinner something that already takes place on a regular basis?
Friend1: Exactly. Anyway, I was thinking of the spiritual side of things. Someone in the bhakti-yoga tradition would not necessarily ask to have dinner with God.
Friend2: Why not? What is the basis for your claim?
Friend1: As His Divine Grace Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura says, the goal should be to make God notice you. Followers of the bhakti tradition generally aren’t eager for personal darshana.
Friend2: A direct viewing, so to speak.
Friend1: Where I see God. I already believe in Him. I already know that He is everywhere. Seeing Him face to face would be cool, but it is not everything.
Friend2: Yes, because there is always something after. I like to reference Shri Hanuman in this regard. He had the meeting, the darshana, with Shri Rama and His younger brother Lakshmana. That was certainly not the end. Rather, it was the beginning of a great relationship in dedicated service that continues to this day.
Friend1: Okay, so is that the reason? Devotees want to serve instead of just sit and talk?
Friend2: What is to be gained by such a short meeting? I want to feel like He is always with me; not just for a set period of time.
Friend1: I am glad you mentioned this, because I have a counterargument. In the Shrimad Bhagavatam we have the vivid description of Shri Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, leaving home to go play in the fields with His friends. They plan on having lunch together.
Friend2: Yes, there are many beautiful paintings depicting the incident.
Friend1: Do you not see the contradiction? If I don’t want the dinner meeting with God, why do these people enjoy the same thing?
Friend2: It is not a fleeting achievement, nor is it a hypothetical. The lunch in the forest is one aspect to the eternal way of living in the spiritual land of Vrindavana. These boys are always His associates. They do much more than sit and eat together. This is proof that devotional service, bhakti-yoga, is the way to go. You won’t need to rely on a single meeting. Every day you will get to offer the best food dishes and feel as if the all-attractive one is by your side, never to leave.
When in spiritual world to reside,
Shri Krishna by your side.
So lunch a daily meeting,
Not a chance fleeting.
Where having only minutes now,
And wondering when again how.
Devotion’s path this chance giving,
Where in His company eternally living.