Richard felt that although his harmonica was his constant companion and shared all his joys and sorrows it was now distracting him from his spiritual path. Prayerfully he cast the harmonica to the river and in exchange Mother Ganga revealed to him the sacred syllable ‘Om’. On another day as he was expressing heart felt gratitude to Mother Ganges for giving him so much in exchange of so little, another transcendental song reverberated from the depths of her heart. This was the Hare Krishna Maha Mantra, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare.” Radhanath Swami at that time didn’t know the meaning of the mantra although it stole his heart. He believed that the mystery would be revealed in time. He felt that in sacrificing the song of his harmonica, he had inherited the song of the Ganges.
Radhanath Swami teaches us that sacrifice is natural. Even for material success, people sacrifice their time, energy, and sometimes relationships. However most people strive with great determination and perform sacrifices for things that are flickering and temporary. “Any moment all their endeavors could be destroyed by the power of time. They will lose everything that they have dedicated their lives for and sacrificed so much for.” Quoting Vedic scriptures, Radhanath Swami says that sacrifices made for a spiritual cause are not taken away by time. Spiritual credits that we earn are permanent assets and they are worth sacrificing our lives for. Even little endeavor on this path guarantees freedom from fear and suffering, says Radhanath Swami.
For those in leadership position, Radhanath Swami warns that unless they are willing to make sacrifices, they shouldn’t accept such position. “To want to take a position and receive the honor of that position, but to not perform the sacrifice that is expected of that position is hypocrisy.” Also sacrifice tests our level of gratitude. Many times we say thank you to others and God, for the gifts we have received in our spiritual life. However real thanks is seen when we are willing to sacrifice some comforts to reciprocate with the object of our love. “Gratitude doesn’t mean simply saying thank you. Real gratitude means reciprocation. If you are actually grateful to someone, you will reciprocate even if it means great sacrifice.”
Radhanath Swami says that our level of surrender to God is tested if we are willing to sacrifice our egoistic conceptions of who we are and what we know. Sacrificing our personal prejudices, biases and opinions for keeping healthy spiritual relationships with other God seekers is also a sign of maturity.
Radhanath Swami also reveals that sacrificing our comforts is natural for one who has intense feelings and emotions in the hearts on seeing the suffering of others. This is compassion and when the heart is filled with compassion for the suffering souls, sacrifice is pleasure.
Thus Radhanath Swami takes the principle of sacrifice to a higher level. Initially we may sacrifice some comforts for seeking some spiritual growth. However, as a seeker grows in his relationship with God and all living entities who are the children of God, he or she sacrifices for nothing personal in return. The sacrifice of a spiritual seeker on this level is simply to connect others to God and help them also discover the true spiritual and joyful nature of the soul. This is the level of sacrifice that Radhanath Swami is exhibiting.