“Once upon a time, seeing that her maidservant was engaged in different household duties, mother Yashoda personally took charge of churning butter. And while she churned butter, she sang the childhood pastimes of Krishna and enjoyed thinking of her son.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 9)
“What if I am not getting anything out of the process? I have listened to endless lectures. There is too much volume to consume in a single lifetime, if you ask me. We could look through everything four or five times and I still wouldn’t gain a proper understanding. This is before touching the published literature, the source material, both in the Sanskrit language and translations for the modern day.
“I am associating with sadhu. I have immersion in shastra, and though I might not have formally accepted a guru yet, I have people who are guiding me. I am following their example. I chant the holy names on a regular basis: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
“I follow the regulative principles to the best of my ability. Trust me, there is a lot of time spent in the bhakti process. I am not one of these wayward students who does not pay attention and who expects to pass the class on a hope and a prayer, no pun intended.
“Given this situation, I am still not getting much. Life is supposed to be better, but what if I am still miserable? Do I stick with it? Is there something I need to do differently? When should I expect things to change?”
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada translates the Sanskrit terms of bhakti-yoga, bhagavata-dharma, and sanatana-dharma as “Krishna consciousness.” This catchall term is both easy to understand and accurate in its representation.
Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The same God that the entire world worships, ignores, or hates, but with detail to the abstract. There is no limitation to a single manifestation of the Supreme; hence the term Godhead. At the origin, He is a person. He is also the greatest in that sense; a person like you and me, but of a higher standard.
The objective of religion is to be conscious of this Krishna, who is the unifying principle in terms of worship. Dharma is the system for reaching such a consciousness. Dharma is the same throughout the time continuum; hence the term sanatana.
The human form brings the best opportunity for reinstating dharma. In previous births, we may not even understand what it is. Our consciousness is so suppressed by the type of body we inhabit that we cannot make progress in terms of understanding Krishna.
If we are following the principles and still not finding success, there is an easy transition we can make. As a human being, we are known to appreciate. The beautiful sunset, with the changing colors in the horizon. The snowstorm turning the entire picture into white. The natural waterfall, with its pleasing sound and its reminder of the abundance of water, which is necessary for survival.
We also take pleasure in serving others. If we help someone along the way, when they are down on their luck, there is some resulting satisfaction. If we take care of a dependent, there is a reason for getting up each morning. People would not keep pets in the home if this were not the case.
To advance in Krishna consciousness, simply transition the object of interaction to the Supreme Lord. That beautiful raincloud, about to nourish the crops on the field, has the same complexion as God the person. The winter storm is an indication of His brilliance in artistic vision. The important element of water descends from a higher realm for our benefit.
Although Krishna is greater than the greatest, He can also become a dependent. In Vraja pastimes, mother Yashoda tends to Krishna on a daily basis. He is her beloved child. She works all day to produce the best butter for her son’s satisfaction. He prefers her breastmilk over anything else.
We can place ourselves into a similar situation. When we prepare something in the kitchen, we can direct the offering to the Supreme Lord. We can take satisfaction out of His pleasure. We are chanting the holy names for His benefit as much as ours. The strict regulation is for pleasing His devotees, who teach the science of self-realization to the general public, taking every risk in the process.
In other words, if we are capable of feeling pleasure through appreciation and direct service, then we can experience the same within our bhakti life. This means that it is impossible for a person not to feel uplifted in the process.
If in bhakti not progressing,
Through experience issue addressing.
Such that already pleasure to feel,
When following service appeal.
And beauty of nature appreciated,
Know that by Supreme demonstrated.
Such that like Yashoda in thought,
Who best butter to Him brought.