“The most practical way to apply principles of Bhakti Yoga is simple –
just be non-envious” – this quote of Radhanath Swami is profound.
We may pronounce mantras perfectly or memorize over a dozen verses
every week. We may even preach and worship the Lord elaborately. Yet
if we aren’t happy at others’ success; if we can’t celebrate others’
good fortune, then we’d know nothing.
We may know the scriptures – Jnana, but we may not realize them-
Vijnana. The former is available to all but the latter is a secret
that’s accessible only to a person that genuinely feels happy in
At the end of the day, all the knowledge we possess is simply like a
road map. The map is not the destination; rather it’s simply a means
to go to a goal. Likewise, knowledge of pure devotional service and
the actual experience of it is totally different- the realization of
Pure Bhakti is very rare. And as long as we nurse envy, we never reach
the destination, and instead, stay stuck with the ‘map’ of knowledge
of Krishna consciousness.
A friend of mine did a post-graduate course on astrology and secured a
gold medal on the subject from a reputed university. He knows all the
technical details of all planetary positions. He could explain for
hours how the charts predict and how constellations influence our
lives. Still, despite over a decade of practice, he has a poor client
base. He admitted to me secretly that most people are disappointed by
his personal consultation, while they do appreciate his knowledge of
the subject. He realized that he can teach astrology but can’t really
practise it well. Similarly, we may learn Krishna consciousness
perfectly but may lack the ability to apply the teachings in our
lives. In fact, we may find the simplest practices like chanting or
following four regulative principles, very difficult to apply in our
own personal lives, while we may extoll its virtues to the world
outside. The key factor that makes everything of Bhakti Yoga sink into
our hearts: our appreciation of others.
In the temple where I stay, we have a Srimad Bhagavatam class daily
morning. Sometimes senior leaders of our community give the class and
at other times, a new devotee speaks on the scriptures. Whoever the
speaker, the audience remains the same and ever respectful of the
lecturer. Some members in the audience are practicing Krishna
consciousness for over three decades, and still, they hear the class
of a young devotee with the same eagerness, as if a senior leader was
instead giving the discourse. Interestingly some young members who
give class were not even born when these senior leaders in the
audience had joined the monastery. Yet, the best part of the morning
class is after it ends, when many from the audience spontaneously
gather around the speaker and shower him with lavish praise. Some
young members feel shy and embarrassed, yet the senior leaders recall
the good points from the class or what lessons they learnt; this
experience is most endearing as it reveals the abundance of
non-enviousness that a sincere practitioner of Bhakti Yoga carries in
his heart. That’s why Radhanath Swami often says that one devotee may
please the Lord by his incredible service. But if you appreciate that
devotee for his service, you could please the Lord even more than him,
and you could access more grace.
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, therefore, advised every Bhakti Yoga aspirant to
just do two things: chant Hare Krishna and appreciate devotees. He
said these two sacred acts would make our lives most auspicious.
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu would often appreciate His own devotees as if He
had five mouths. When His principal followers Sri Rupa Goswami and Sri
Sanatana Goswami received Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s mercy, all other
devotees who were much more senior, felt immensely joyful and
celebrated the event.
This non-enviousness is the hallmark of a sincere devotee of Krishna
and if we can cultivate this one quality, we’d ensure tremendous
spiritual progress in our lives.