Many Not-So-Victorious Attempts

[Radha-Krishna]“One should engage oneself in the practice of yoga with undeviating determination and faith. One should abandon, without exception, all material desires born of false ego and thus control all the senses on all sides by the mind.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 6.24)

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स निश्चयेन योक्तव्यो योगोऽनिर्विण्णचेतसा ।
सङ्कल्पप्रभवान्कामांस्त्यक्त्वा सर्वानशेषत: ।
मनसैवेन्द्रियग्रामं विनियम्य समन्तत: ॥

sa niścayena yoktavyo
yogo ’nirviṇṇa-cetasā
saṅkalpa-prabhavān kāmāṁs
tyaktvā sarvān aśeṣataḥ

viniyamya samantataḥ

“I have heard it said that one important aspect to raising children is celebrating milestones and achievements. The idea behind the principle is that success does not come easy. Failure in the first few instances does not necessarily indicate a lost cause.

“As an example, when taking my child to a formal class for the first time, they are uncomfortable. They do not listen to instructions. The other children are obedient, follow directions, and provide relevant feedback to the teacher. My child is uncomfortable to the point of finally crying.

“I am the one more traumatized from the situation. I pick my child up and abruptly leave the room. I vow to never try the same. I have made the judgment that my child simply does not like the formal classroom setting. The experience was essentially a failure.

“In truth, they were simply not ready. Just one year later they accidentally find another classroom setting and thrive in it. They look forward to future engagements. They ask to have more opportunities to learn in such a way.

“That is why it is important to celebrate successes. It may take many rounds of failure before someone makes it to the finish line.

“Is there an analogous principle within the bhakti-yoga tradition? I would think the finish line is nearly impossible to cross. Being that one of the requirements is the complete elimination of material desires, who will actually realize the dream of the end to rebirth anytime soon?

“Isn’t it even confirmed by Shri Krishna that a person finally understands Him in truth after many births? That should say it all. If hardly anyone has a chance at success, what would there be to celebrate? How do we encourage people in the face of such long odds?”

बहूनां जन्मनाम् अन्ते
ज्ञानवान् मां प्रपद्यते
वासुदेवः सर्वम् इति
स महात्मा सु-दुर्लभः

bahūnāṁ janmanām ante
jñānavān māṁ prapadyate
vāsudevaḥ sarvam iti
sa mahātmā su-durlabhaḥ

“After many births and deaths, he who is actually in knowledge surrenders unto Me, knowing Me to be the cause of all causes and all that is. Such a great soul is very rare.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.19)

In the purport to an important verse from Bhagavad-gita describing determination, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada references the story of the sparrow. In her quest to dry up the ocean as a means to return her lost eggs, there is mocking. This is in the beginning. The proposal is preposterous, except it isn’t. This is due to the sparrow’s determination, which eventually catches the attention of Vishnu, and by extension the bird-carrier named Garuda.

“The news of her activity spread, and at last Garuda, the gigantic bird carrier of Lord Vishnu, heard it. He became compassionate toward his small sister bird, and so he came to see the sparrow. Garuda was very pleased by the determination of the small sparrow, and he promised to help. Thus Garuda at once asked the ocean to return her eggs lest he himself take up the work of the sparrow. The ocean was frightened at this, and returned the eggs. Thus the sparrow became happy by the grace of Garuda.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 6.24 Purport)

A person should feel a sense of accomplishment in the mere decision to attempt bhakti-yoga. This equates to setting foot in the path of liberation. The distinction with this decision is that there is help on the other side.

[Bhishma departing]Success is essentially guaranteed, as long as there is fidelity to the path. There will come a time of full merging into the Divine consciousness, in a manner similar to the famed Bhishma departing this world, while contemplating Krishna as Narayana.

सूत उवाच
कृष्ण एवं भगवति
आत्मन्य् आत्मानम् आवेश्य
सो ऽन्तःश्वास उपारमत्

sūta uvāca
kṛṣṇa evaṁ bhagavati
ātmany ātmānam āveśya
so ‘ntaḥśvāsa upāramat

“Suta Gosvami said: Thus Bhishmadeva merged himself in the Supersoul, Lord Shri Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, with his mind, speech, sight and actions, and thus he became silent, and his breathing stopped.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 1.9.43)

As far as celebrating milestones and incremental progress, in the bhakti-yoga tradition there is a steady stream of celebration. It is like a radio station that plays the hits nonstop, without commercials. It could even follow the theme of a “no repeat weekend.”

That is to say, there is sufficient material for celebrating the Supreme Personality of Godhead, whose glories are endless. His gunas are transcendental. He is both anadi and ananta. There is no beginning and there is no end.

[Radha-Krishna]This concept of perpetual celebration is known as nityotsava. Always celebrating. Always contemplating the greatness of the one who is the well-wisher to every living entity. Always remembering the victorious one, Achyuta, who never falls down.

In Closing:

When success difficult to come,
Opportunity for celebration none.

Because again in rebirth to fall,
An impossible task to call.

Truth that nityotsava can be,
Glories of God to see.

On daily basis in steady stream,
Celebrate with eternal team.

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