Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Overcoming Obstacles

bhakti utsahit das: hare krishna prabhu !

bhakta sanga prarthi das: hare krishna prabhu ! I was just looking for some devotee association.

bud: oh! jai! you are so pure that you always seek devotee association.

bspd: Krishna bada dayamaya, Krishna is very merciful. He fulfilled my desire by sending you.

bud: How is sadhana going on ?

bspd: Goes up & down. My situation is precarious as I have no devotee association. :(

bud: oh! That is a reason for concern. Indeed devotee association helps us keep determined.
bspd: Yes! Had I had devotee association, I would have been up there in my sadhna chart.

bud: Jai! I am sure Krishna will inspire you. Do you read Srila Prabhupada books regularly?

bspd: Prabhu keeps fluctuating as I have no devotee association.

bud: But I heard there is a temple in your city and lot of devotee association is available

bspd: It's too far. Moreover I don't have devotee association to keep me enthused and accompany me.

bud: Hmmm... You may read Srila Prabhupada buks at home & hear lectures. These activities give a lot of enthusiasm.

bspd: But prabhu, you know naa... without devotee association it is so difficult to continue these things. I wish I had devotee association. I would be diving deep in the ocean of bhakti.

bud: I have heard from senior vaishnavas that when one gets devotee association,one should safely assume, Krishna is pleased.

bspd: What do you mean? Krishna is not pleased with me...?

bud: Not like that. But you can please him more by chanting more.Like. How many rounds are you chanting?

bspd: What to say? No devotee associaiton naa....

bud (fearing the worst): Prabhu, pls do not avoid the question. Pls tell me honestly.

bspd: Zero. :(

bud: Oh!


This is a real conversation that happened between two devotees. Bhakta Sanga Prarthi Das' dependence on devotee association may be very heartening at the surface, but deep down the mite of pride is at work. The pride of being perfect, but not able to act perfectly due to circumstances (external) caused by Krishna.

To be fair, Bhakta Sanga Prabhu is quite new to this process of devotional service and this fault can be accorded to his innocense rather than any demoniac intentional desire to ignore Krishna's mercy.

A particular situation forced me into contemplation and I realised myself stuck in the same web. May be a different set of complexities. But nonetheless somewhere in the little corner of my heart I was hoping for Krishna to work, without putting the much needed effort myself. Guilty as charged. Perhaps even now I am not completely rid of that sentiment.

For ease of my own understanding I thought that the first step to overcome any obstacle is:


Accepting our fallen position. Accepting that our heart is full of anarthas, pride of being a high class devotee being the foremost. Accepting that it is our own doing that we have landed in this position, where progressing in spiritual life is a big challenge.


The extent of Krishna's mercy is unlimited. Understanding that Krishna has been causelessly merciful on us. That he has given us all the instruments to come out of our quagmire - Srila Prabhupada's shelter (Guru Maharaja's shelter), Srila Prabhupada books & devotee association. The weapons are enough to wage a war against our enemies.

The Sri Shikshashtakam v2 perfectly describes this sentiment.

nāmnām akāri bahudhā nija-sarva-śaktis
tatrārpitā niyamitaḥ smaraṇe na kālaḥ
etādṛśī tava kṛpā bhagavan mamāpi
durdaivam īdṛśam ihājani nānurāgah

O my Lord, Your holy name alone can render all benediction to living beings, and thus You have hundreds and millions of names like Krishna and Govinda. In these transcendental names You have invested all Your transcendental energies. There are not even hard and fast rules for chanting these names. O my Lord, out of kindness You enable us to easily approach You by chanting Your holy names, but I am so unfortunate that I have no attraction for them.

The verse says that Krishna has left no stone unturned to facilitate our success. That it is our own Misfortune that we are not able to encash on Krishna's freely available mercy. This Acceptance & Acknowledgement naturally leads to HUMILITY. A natural progression to the above verse in Shikshashtakam that emulates Humility

tṛṇād api sunīcena
taror api sahiṣṇunā
amāninā mānadena
kīrtanīyaḥ sadā harih

One should chant the holy name of the Lord in a humble state of mind, thinking oneself lower than the straw in the street; one should be more tolerant than a tree, devoid of all sense of false prestige, and ready to offer all respect to others. In such a state of mind one can chant the holy name of the Lord constantly.

This is the humility that Great vaishnava Acharyas are also reflecting in their Songs. These songs are full of transcendental sentiments of utter humility. Especially Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur's songs. Such as
Gopinath mama nivedan suno, ami visayi durjana...
Amar jivan sada paperata, nahi ko punyera lesha....
and others.

This very humility leads us to kirtaniya sada harih..incessant chanting of the holy names of Lord Hari.

But Acharyas do not leave it at this. They recommend us something. What is that ? Rupa Goswami's Nectar of Instruction verse 3. lists the six items which help us advance in Krishna Consciousness. This includes the final step we can take to overcome the obstacles.

3. ACT

utsāhān niścayād dhairyāt
sańga-tyāgāt sato vṛtteḥ
ṣaḍbhir bhaktiḥ prasidhyati

There are six principles favorable to the execution of pure devotional service: (1) being enthusiastic, (2) endeavoring with confidence, (3) being patient, (4) acting according to regulative principles (such as śravaṇaḿ kīrtanaḿ viṣṇoḥ smaraṇam [SB 7.5.23] — hearing, chanting and remembering Kṛṣṇa), (5) abandoning the association of nondevotees, and (6) following in the footsteps of the previous ācāryas. These six principles undoubtedly assure the complete success of pure devotional service.
Again Bhakti Vinoda Thakur's Sarnagati teaches us the six limbs of Surrender are as important:

atyanta durlabha prema koribare dana
sikhaya saranagati bhakatera prana

dainya, atma-nivedana, goptrtve varana
'avasya raksibe krsna - visvasa, palana
 bhakti-anukula-matra karyera svikara
bhakti-pratkula-bhava varjanangikara

sad-anga saranagati hoibe jahara
tahara prarthana sune sri-nanda-kumara

"In order to freely distribute the gift of ecstatic love of God, which is very difficult to obtain, He taught the path of saranagati, devotional surrender to the Supreme Lord. This saranagati is the indispensable necessity of the true devotees.

"The six ways of surrender through saranagati are humility, dedication of the self, acceptance of the Lord as one's maintainer, the consciousness that Krishna will surely protect me, execution of only those acts favorable to pure devotion, and renunciation of conduct adverse to pure devotion.

"Sri Nanda Kumar, the youthful son of Nanda Maharaja, hears the prayers of anyone who takes refuge in Him by this six fold practice of surrender.

So Let us Act as per the instructions of the Spiritual Master, Acharyas, Devotees and try our best, simultaneously accepting our precarious condition & acknoldging Krishna's unending mercy. The Prince of Vrindavan, the son of Nanda maharaja, will surely send a smiling glance towards us.


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Satsvarupa Shyam Das said...

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