Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Faith is the substance of Bhakti

High birth, beauty, knowledge, power are so dear to materialistic people but they are the greatest disqualifications for a devotee because they make one proud, complacent and then chanting the Holy Name is not with sincere feeling.

Tvam akincana gocaram. Krishna is the property of those who think, 'I have nothing but You, My Lord.' There is nothing that can protect me. That is the mood in which Draupadi raised her hands up and chanted the names of God. In the same way, Gajendra is in the same circumstance. In both cases, their most dear well-wishers are standing there helpless. They are both in mortal pain - both emotionally and physically. Then Gajendra cries out for Krishna's help through these prayers. It's not like someone who ritualistically chants thousands of payers every morning; that's very good but the prayers are the package by which we send a message to Krishna or God. It’s not the envelope and the address that people are impressed with. It is the content which is impressive. So what is inside is our bhava, our intent.  Krishna accepts the intent of a devotee's actions and words.
Gajendra is helpless, desperate and at a state where he raises his trunk and offers a lotus flower to the Lord. We see by the content of His heart; He is not asking Krishna to save His life. He has realized the futility of material life. He is crying out to Krishna to accept Him. Gajendra has full faith that Krishna will save him and amazingly, he didn't practice Bhakti his whole life. Whatever advancement he made was in his previous life; King Indradyumna. Here we find, in the most critical part of life, Krishna is there for him. He forgot Krishna but Krishna never forgot his devotional service. Krishna - who is within the heart is re-awakening his remembrance in his bhakti and Gajendra has such faith that Krishna is here for me.

Krishna, Vasudeva is all pervading. He is watching, hearing and He knows exactly what we are going through. He knows we are surrendering and He is here. When Prahalad was thrown into the ocean, in pitts of snake, in blazing fire; The Lord was there to protect him and accept his devotion. If the Lord can appear from a pillar for a devotee, the Lord can appear from anywhere. We have to cry out for Krishna. It's not that Kamsa has to come to our neighborhood for Krishna has to appear.

To protect the word of a devotee, the Lord appeared from a pillar. All odds were against Prahalad from a material perspective, but the Lord not only protected the word of Prahalad but he took Prahalad as his own little child and gave him the highest revelations of love of God.

Gajendra has complete faith. He is not offering a prayer that 'I hope He comes; I hope He hears me; I hope He exists; I hope He reciprocates.'  In other words, we are practicing bhakti, but we don't have nishtha or very strong faith. This is preliminary to achieve love of God that we have very strong faith in whatever we do.

When we are making a garland, we have faith that Krishna is accepting the service. When we are sitting in Bhagavatam, chanting our rounds, doing Kirtan, washing utensils, sweeping the floor, distributing books, taking care of the child, taking care of parents; whatever service we may do it's important that we have complete faith that here and now at this moment, Krishna is present, watching, hearing, responding and accepting my efforts and if I'm doing it properly; Krishna is pleased with me - that is Bhakti. Not that tomorrow, I will do bhakti as today I have other things; tomorrow never comes.

So we should be convinced that Krishna is here and He is accepting what we are doing. When we have that conviction, then we can put our heart into anything we do. So this faith is very critical. We gain shraddha by associating with devotees and hearing and chanting with them. If we find that our faith is not so strong, then we seriously need to develop it by associating, serving and hearing from people who have faith.

At the time of the greatest need, we are going to have to call out for Krishna with faith that He is hearing and He is there. Gajndra is teaching us how we should process the amazing teachings of Bhagavatam. Like Gajendra, we should understand how to respond to situations. Gajendra is surrendering, crying out for Krishna with complete faith. When we are in a dangerous position or even when all is fine; we should have faith that as Narahari was there for Prahalad, the Lord within my heart is there; He is watching; He is accepting and He will help me; He will save me.

For us, it's not only on the verge of death that we need to be saved. We are taught to chant like Gajendra when things are just flourishing. We should know about the crocodile of illusion. Even when things are really good - we are in those jaws. As soon as we come in material consciousness, we are in the jaws of the crocodile. We are still under the control of material energy. Scriptures are full of explanations of dangers of material existence - danger at every step. So even when things are good; we should not have faith in that situation. The aim of life is not to have few minutes more enjoyment while still in the jaws of the crocodile; or to take some pain-killers when we are in the jaws of crocodile; the solution is to get out. Whether we win or lose on this worldly platform, it's all happening in these jaws.Maya's crocodile has many kinds of teeth, and some feel good :) ‘I am successful’ and then another tooth - everything seems to be taken away.

So, the content of our message to Krishna should be with the faith that right now, Krishna is here. In everything we do, we should be offering our heart and surrender. Doesn't matter what the world thinks. The world cannot save you. When Gajendra was lifting that lotus flower in the sky, he knew Krishna was there. Now people may think, who is he talking to? There is nobody up there? But Gajendra had complete faith. I don't see Him, I don't feel Him, I don't hear Him but I know He is there. He was there for Prahalad, He was there for Devaki and Vasudeva and Gajendra had complete faith that Krishna was accepting that lotus flower.

We have to have faith in Krishna's unlimited and inconceivable love for His devotees. People have faith in mundane alternatives to God.

All the stories of Bhagavatam, Ramayan and Mahabharat are stories to show how Krishna is there to protect the love of His devotees and the faith of the devotees that - Krishna is there.
In this way whatever we do, could be with real feeling. At each moment, we have the ultimate supreme opportunity to connect to Krishna and shower His infinite mercy upon us. Srila Prabhupada said, if one time we chant the Holy Name with that feeling of complete surrender, faith and humility; our life becomes perfect. Bhaktivinoda Thakura prays; ‘My Lord, if You want to protect me, nothing can destroy me. If you want to destroy me, nothing can protect me. Do as you like, as I am your servant eternally.’ The spirit of surrender - 'Krishna I am yours, and you are here and you are hearing Me.' If Krishna wants, He can appear from a chandelliar up in the ceiling - but are you calling Him in that spirit? 

- HH Radhanath Swami :: 2009 Lecture

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