The cause for varying degrees of sincerity in devotional service

In a community of devotees, why are some devotees slower than others in regard to devotional service and spiritual perfection?

peacock

Lecture given by Sri Amitasana Dasa on April 8, 2015
Srimad Bhagavatam – 3.9.38

yac cakarthanga mat-stotram
mat-kathabhyudayankitam
yad va tapasi te nistha
sa esa mad-anugrahah

TRANSLATION

O Brahma, the prayers that you have chanted praising the glories of My transcendental activities, the penances you have undertaken to understand Me, and your firm faith in Me—all these are to be considered My causeless mercy.

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Whatever abilities we have it is important for us to understand that it is all given by the Lord. Many of us are doing some service where the results may not be proportional to the abilities we have. The Lord may empower us to achieve some things and if we take credit and think that it is my doing – although in one sense nothing wrong, that itself is the pride, that will eventually degrade the consciousness.  Prabhupada says by the mercy of the Lord even a layman can compose prayers of the highest spiritual perfection.

Spiritual perfection is developed by dint of one’s sincere endeavour to render transcendental service. When we also live together in a community of devotees, all of us are continuing our spiritual journey.  When Arjuna asks, what happens to a devotee who treads this path, but later on gets distracted, Krishna says there is no loss, he will continue from where he left in the previous life. So that is how we see different devotees have different degrees of sincerity.

Material consciousness is – the moment we see someone advancing we become envious, but in spiritual consciousness it is all about pleasing the Lord. The Vaikuntha consciousness that if your brother is progressing then you should think – God is so pleased upon him and material consciousness is – Oh he has advanced so much, let me check him. This envy is a part of conditioned living, in such a state, a devotee can never be peaceful.

Once there was a crow that was very happy. One day he saw a swan, pure white,  beautiful body.  The crow thought, I am sure the swan must be much happier than me. So he approached the swan and said, I am sure you must be the happiest. The swan said, yes I thought so, till one day I saw a parrot. The parrot was beautiful and see my body, just white all over, but the parrot had green feathers and red beak, two colours. Then the crow went to the parrot, who in turn compared itself to a peacock and said – the peacock was moving with its feathers spread and all the people were enamoured by the beauty of the peacock.  Then the crow met the peacock with the same question. The peacock said – because I am so beautiful they have trapped me in the zoo. There is only one bird which is not in the zoo – the crow. So it is better for me to become a crow so that I can move around freely. This is material existence, nobody is happy.

When a devotee advances in Krishna consciousness  he realizes this folly. So he does not unnecessarily become envious and is happy with what the Lord has given him and is more interested in his growth of consciousness. The Lord says in the Bhagavad-gita (4.11) – according to the proportion of one’s surrender unto Me, I respond accordingly: ye yatha mam prapadyante tams tathaiva bhajamy aham. All of us are individual souls, at different levels in our spiritual advancement. So the Lord is reciprocating accordingly.

So whatever position we are blessed with – swan, crow, peacock or whatever it maybe – everyone has his own challenges. Let us endeavour to improve our consciousness. Only one goal should a devotee have – how I can please Krishna more and more. When the living entity desires to serve the Lord, the Lord helps the devotee in so many ways as chaitya guru or the spiritual master within and without.

rasada dasa

A devotee by name Rasada dasa – he was initiated by Srila Prabhupada – passed away in Vrindavan recently.  There was a mail being circulated of a very nice pastime. He was preaching in Brazil and was a very good preacher and book distributor.  His background: Once he knocked on the door of the Paris temple and when the devotees opened the door, they saw a person – not taken bath for days together, matted hair, about 18 years old. The devotees shooed him away.  One day Prabhupada came to Paris and along with the devotees went for a morning walk, and this boy called the Pig-Pen, caught hold of Prabhupada’s feet. Even before Prabhupada could respond, the devotees shooed him away and continued with the walk. When they returned from the walk they were surprised to see the temple door was open, and Pig-Pen was inside. The devotees were very upset, but when this person saw Prabhupada, he clung to his feet. So Prabhupada called the boy close to him and started patting him on his back and said, it’s ok, let him be here, let him change clothes and take a bath. When he came back no one could recognise – he was in white dhoti kurta, shaved head. He became a devotee in the temple.

One day the devotees were getting ready to go for book distribution in the sankirtan van. This Pig-Pen was sitting in the van. They said: what are you up to? He said – I also want to do book distribution; Prabhupada saved me. Anyway the devotees said, it is Prabhupada’s causeless mercy. They gave him a book bag and in one hour he came back empty handed, all the books were sold. The devotees were surprised. They asked, how did you sell? He said, “Prabhupada saved me.”

We have many examples of devotees, who had no material qualification, but because of some desire to serve Srila Prabhupada they were blessed by the Lord, by Prabhupada and they could render wonderful services. So we also are in the same boat, but we should always keep ramming into our consciousness that it is all because of the grace of Srila Prabhupada, because of mercy of Krishna. Whatever I am able to achieve, it is not because of my ability. The moment we start taking credit, there begins the fall down in our consciousness.

(The above transcripts have been edited for better readability. However they have not been verified and confirmed by the original speaker.)
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Sri Amitasana Dasa is a full-time missionary with ISKCON since 1992. He is presently the Governing Body Commissioner – ISKCON Bangalore Group of Temples and Vice President, ISKCON Sri Radha Krishna Temple, Bengaluru.