“Maharaja Parikshit, the grandson of the Pandavas, was from his very childhood a great devotee of the Lord. Even while playing with dolls, he used to worship Lord Krishna by imitating the worship of the family Deity.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 2.3.15)
स वै भागवतो राजा
कृष्ण-क्रीडां य आददे
sa vai bhāgavato rājā
kṛṣṇa-krīḍāṁ ya ādade
“As a first-time parent, there are new experiences daily. Though I grew up around other children, though I spent time taking care of newborns and those learning to walk and talk, it is a completely separate ordeal when the responsibility is continuous.
“Twenty-four hours a day. Surveillance necessary even while you are asleep. I guess some people handle the pressure differently than others. I feel terrible ever leaving my child with someone else for an extended period of time. I feel as if I am cheating on the job, getting away with something I should not be doing.
“The pressure indeed mounts. Recently, I tried introducing my child to a friend. This person is of almost the exact same age. Different natures, for sure. The friend talks more. They are able to understand the language of adults better. They seem to be more behaved, but I’m sure every parent is overly critical in that area.
“My child had so much fun with their new friend. They played together, independent of adult supervision. They did not get into fights. In fact, they started to support one another. I became the bad person, seen as trying to impose law and order on a few occasions.
“The difficulty began after the friend departed. My child was so sad. They kept asking to play again. Yet this friend left, and they were not coming back for a while, as they live quite a distance away. My child was to the point of inconsolable. It was heartbreaking to watch.
“This got me to thinking. Someone must feel the same way when associating closely with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Shri Krishna. It is on the transcendental level, as Krishna has been their best well-wishing friend since time immemorial. It is like they have found their long-lost pal.
“How to deal with such pain? I would think that is a risk in immersing oneself too much in the bhakti culture. Why become so attached to someone you will miss so much?”
This mood of separation is known as vipralambha, and as exhibited by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu it is the height of the experience in spiritual life. The exemplary devotees are the gopis of Vrindavana, who had directly felt such heartache after Krishna left their presence and went to live as the king of Mathura.
While in the case of the child the separation pain cannot be mitigated to an acceptable level, when longing for the association of the Supreme Lord the contact is direct. In other words, contemplating God’s features and desperately desiring His presence are as good as having Him nearby.
This explains the magic to the chanting of the maha-mantra in an offenseless mood: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. The more I chant, the more I will feel Krishna’s presence. The more I feel Him next to me, the stronger the attachment will be.
The attachment can come about simply through hearing. From the acharyas we learn that during his childhood years the great Maharaja Parikshit used to worship a deity of Krishna. At such a young age, a person is not mature enough to follow the rules and procedures seen in an official temple.
This lack of experience does not prohibit them from engaging in worship that is on an equal level. Keeping the doll is a great way to combat loneliness at a young age. In this case the doll is as good as the person itself, as Bhagavan is not an ordinary friend.
The entire bhakti culture has the practical and attainable objective of fostering this attachment, creating a meaningful longing, and fulfilling the desire to meet through connection in yoga, which lasts beyond the present lifetime.
Attachment growing fast,
A bond forever to last.
But dismay after meeting,
As those moments fleeting.
Now desperately to long,
Sense of hankering strong.
Both conditions as the same,
With Krishna in separation to gain.