“Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, and penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope”– Maya Angelou (1928-2014, American author, poet and civil rights activist)
Bhakti – a relationship with Krishna is like a husband- wife relationship. Statistics have shown that the ‘romance’ element in any relationship lasts on an average seventeen months. After that it’s either an end to it or sustaining it on the basis of other parameters like sacrifice, service, forgiveness, tolerance, respect etc. In Krishna consciousness a similar challenge confronts devotees; they begin to feel bored and unexcited about the very practices that they once relished. Their honey moon period with Krishna is over.
Initially when we come to Krishna consciousness we feel ‘relief’; the process of hearing and chanting appears like an oasis in the desert of material world. The scorching heat of miseries of this world abates as we dive into the wonderful variety in the package of Bhakti process. It’s like entering an air conditioned room when the temperature outside is 45 degree Celsius. However as we spend some years the relief experience wanes and that’s when the heart hankers for something more. Initially we are blinded by the effulgence of the relief experiences and the Bhakti newness. Slowly however we discover other devotees are different from us; they think, believe and do things differently than I do. That’s when within the society of devotees, we forget the scorching heat outside and feel it within the association of devotees. The ‘air condition’ seems irrelevant then. We feel unloved, and doubt if I am doing the right thing. We get judgmental and offensive; some unfortunately go back to the material world, preferring the material ‘heat’ to the burning pain of differences with other devotees.
This is the time to reexamine our Bhakti relationship with Krishna. It’s time to recommit and proactively take steps to feel loved by Krishna. Srila Prabhupada writes in a Srimad Bhagavatam purport that Krishna in the heart is not lazy; He’s waiting to reciprocate with us. We need to keep up the fire of aspiration burning in the heart. This needs to be followed with the right association and then attention to the practice. Our problem is most often we live inattentively, and that attitude enters our devotional practices as well.
This is also the time to ask what I am doing in this relationship. Am I only getting or am I also giving back to Krishna? Am I showing love to Krishna by serving Him and His devotees and hearing about Him attentively? The Srimad Bhagavatam assures us that if we submissively and attentively hear about the subject matters of Krishna then the Lord in the heart would remove all misgivings and purify our hearts.
Some years ago there was a story of an Australian who joined MacDonald’s as a young teenager and at 45 went on to become the CEO. His success story was on many magazines. When we hear someone achieve something after three decades of struggle we marvel and appreciate his endeavors to rise from the bottom to top.
Bhakti is also a long term process. A sincere spiritual practitioner spends his whole life time to attain spiritual success. Krishna consciousness is not a two or five year project. It’s about dedicating our life for the practice, and most importantly not taking a break during this journey. We persevere despite all obstacles and temptations and surely at the right time by the grace of Lord Krishna we would attain the position of experiencing Krishna’s reciprocation in our hearts. We’ll surely see the magnificent potency of Krishna and the process of Bhakti Yoga. Until then we keep onwith dedication and sincerity.
Therefore we do have hope. Unlike material relationships that become drudgery, a relationship with Krishna promises to be exciting and fresh always provided we proactively and consciously serve and offer our hearts to Krishna. And we do this by renderingloving service to Krishna and His devotees centered on regular hearing and chanting.