At modern times we have some very powerful distractions that take us away from the association of devotees. Earlier we could sit for long hours with devotees and talk to them about Krishna Consciousness but nowadays we have so many electronic gadgets, and in the name of ‘utility is the principle’ or also called as ‘yuktavairagya’, we are trapped by the gadgets and go far away from Krishna and His loving devotees.
What is yuktavairagya?
Yuktavairagya means using things that apparently has no connection with Krishna, in Krishna’s service. For example a laptop is not a deity or a paraphernalia to be used in deity worship or chanting of Holy Names. Yet I could write an article glorifying Krishna using a laptop or read devotional literature, and thus enhance my service to Krishna and make spiritual progress. I could also send e-mails and stay connected to Krishna’s devotees. This is the yuktavairagya principle that Srila Prabhupada and his spiritual master, Srila Bhakti SiddhantaSaraswati taught.
And the modern society provides unlimited gadgets and as many opportunities to use these gadgets in Krishna’s service. Smart phones and I-pads, and the applications within these gadgets, like Face book and Whattsapp are means to serve Krishna and connect to Krishna’s devotees better. But somewhere we could get trapped by these very electronic instruments that we initially claim to use for enhancing our service to Krishna.
How the gadgets trap us?
For example a devotee earlier would spend time discussing Krishna katha in temple or would visit his other devotee friend’s house to hear SrimadBhagavatam or cook for a festival. Now he might stay in touch with devotees through the social media, and might claim he is busy working and has no time to take physical association of devotees. Subtly, but surely the illusory energy gets us.
We need to remember that these attractive, dazzling gadgets and apps were not created by enthusiastic devotees to make our Krishna Consciousness better. They were designed and made by highly materially ambitious people with the sole intention to make our sense gratification better. Therefore the energy of distraction that these gadgets inherently carry in them is very high, and unless one is very strongly rooted in his or her spiritual practises, it’s very likely we would be lost in the mirage of the technology world.
Srila Prabhupada also gave the example of a thorn; we could use one thorn to take out another thorn. Similarly he said technology could be used by a devotee to preach better and help people come out of maya, and surrender to Krishna. Yet Srila Prabhupada himself avoided telex when he saw its tremendous potential. He said devotees would use it for prajalpa, or wasteful talk. Although we may claim to be using a thorn to remove another thorn, but if we are not careful we may land up with two thorns; these gadgets and distractions can entangle us more deeply in material life. Eventually we may land up with 108 thorns!!
Using gadgets carefully
We need to honestly introspect on how much we can individually handle these high energy devices without getting burnt by the fire of sense gratification. These devices are many, and potent to inject Krishna Consciousness in the society, yet they are capable of individually and collectively taking us away from Krishna. Through sincere prayer and within the safety net of association and guidance from devotees, we could use the trial and error method; we could carefully experiment and see how much we could personally handle these gadgets. Each one us has to take a call on his ability to handle this fire; how much can you use them to illuminate your soul, and not get burnt by it.
More importance to association of devotees
Secondly, and more importantly we need to individually and collectively give more importance to physical association of devotees. Whenever an opportunity arises to associate with devotees physically, whenever we get a chance to hear and speak Krishna katha in the association of devotees, we can keep away all ‘necessary’ chatting on our smart phones aside, and seek that association.
We wouldn’t regret this decision ever; on the contrary we’d be glad that we gave more importance to real devotee association than virtual association. The electronic gadgets are a means to come closer to Krishna and devotees, and if they are taking us away, then it’s prudent to do away with them, and be with devotees. Let’s use these gadgets judiciously, and not get used by them.
When we take things for granted, it’s a matter of time before we lose it. And association of devotees is one such precious gift that Krishna gives us, but if we assume it away, we’d be deprived of it. On the other hand, if we treasure this gift, soon Krishna would reciprocate with us by filling our hearts with rich realizations and Krishna conscious experiences. Let’s now make the choice; let’s choose a devotee over a device!