Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, who inaugurated the Chanting movement five hundred years ago, compared a Hare Krishna yogi to a gardener.
Love for Krishna is compared to a beautiful plant that grows when the seed of devotional service is planted in the heart by genuine devotees of Krishna. The fact that some of us are regularly chanting Hare Krishna means we’ve been blessed with the fortune of receiving this seed of devotional service. Now it’s our responsibility to water the seed with regular chanting. However while watering the seed of devotional service with disciplined chanting, one also needs to be cautious as to not allow weeds to grow in the consciousness. Any motive or aspiration that is not conducive for service to Krishna is compared to a weed. This includes envy, lust, pride, anger and other negative tendencies that lie deep rooted in the heart. As a plant grows by regular watering, the weeds that can potentially destroy the growth of the plant also grow. If we are not careful to pluck these weeds out, they may eventually destroy the creeper of devotional service. Therefore a chanter of Hare Krishna, compared to an intelligent gardener, is introspective and honestly examines his motives and aspirations. We’ve to diligently rid our heart of these negativities, and have pure aspirations while chanting Hare Krishna.
The weeds grow silently as we spend some time in the practise of Hare Krishna yoga. The nature of devotional service is it provides us many side benefits over a period of time, like respect, love, honour, and fame in the society of devotees. This is especially common when we get senior in the community of devotees. The offerings of position and respect are potential weeds that can distract us from the path of pure chanting of Holy Names. The trap is when we accept this honour in the mood that we deserve it, or when we expect it and hanker for these adorations. It’s then that we allow the weeds to throttle our plant of devotional service.
A gardener doesn’t simply water the plants. He spends time also checking the growth of weeds. Similarly a Hare Krishna yogi is not content to finish his prescribed rounds and get on with other business of the day. He is alert to avoid being honoured. In the Hare Krishna path, members address each other as ‘prabhu’ (or master) and self as a servant. Radhanath Swami warns that after some time, hearing so many people call us as prabhu, we may tend to accept the position of a master. “If someone calls us as Prabhu (master), we should think, ‘this person is so advanced that he can see even me as Prabhu’; we shouldn’t think ‘everyone is calling me prabhu, it must be true’” To experience the benefits of chanting Hare Krishna, it’s imperative for chanters to cultivate this mood that I am a servant of God and others. Even if the devotee is given a senior position, he accepts the position to increase his service to Krishna. This is a healthy approach that creates a favourable culture for effective chanting of Hare Krishna.
The scriptures narrate the historical incident concerning Shri Madhavendra Puri, a devout chanter who lived in Vrindavan, India. Once when Madhavendra Puri was in Remuna, Orissa, an uncommon incident occurred whereby the Lord in His deity form stole a pot of sweet rice for him. Madhavendra Puri instantly feared that this news may spread all over and he may soon be honoured by the town people for having made the Lord perform such a sweet and loving pastime. In the middle of the night, Madhavendra Puri fled from the town, desperately wanting to avoid any honour or respect. This is the mood of a sincere chanter; he wants to avoid any honour or respect and instead is happy to glorify Krishna by chanting the Holy Names and speaking the Lord’s glories.