“While Krishna was going to the fruit vendor very hastily, most of the grains He was holding fell. Nonetheless, the fruit vendor filled Krishna's hands with fruits, and her fruit basket was immediately filled with jewels and gold.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 10.11.11)Download this episode (right click and save)
Friend1: I think I’ve got a good one for you today.
Friend2: Okay. Have at it.
Friend1: Well, first, can you give me the basic definition of bhakti-yoga?
Friend2: Why? You already know it.
Friend1: Just to set the table for what I want to ask you.
Friend2: Bhakti-yoga is the union of the individual soul with the Supreme Soul through love and devotion.
Friend1: And we are the individual soul and God is the Supreme Soul.
Friend1: And what makes bhakti-yoga different from other kinds of yoga or religion in general?
Friend2: There are many things unique about it, but the foundation is the attitude. It is the lone yoga where the aim is not to improve oneself. It is completely selfless. In fact, bhakti is the only true selflessness. Lord Chaitanya famously prayed that He didn’t care where Krishna put Him, as long as He could continue to serve in love He would be happy.
Friend1: Alright. Good. So love is the key factor.
Friend2: Absolutely. Without love you cannot have bhakti-yoga. You might be applying the regulative principles, but your bhakti is not pure until you have that love.
Friend1: Okay. So here’s the tough part, as I’m thinking. How can you love God?
Friend2: What do you mean?
Friend1: I’ve heard you explain that God is described as Bhagavan, which means someone who owns six opulences to the fullest degree and at the same time.
Friend2: Yes. Bhagavan is all-beautiful, all wealthy, all powerful, all famous, all knowledgeable, and fully renounced.
Friend1: Okay. So it’s safe to say that Bhagavan has nothing to worry about. He’s got everything covered.
Friend2: For sure.
Friend1: So if that’s the case, how is anyone supposed to love Him?
Friend2: I don’t follow.
Friend1: Take the example of my children. I love them so much. They are under my care, so it makes sense that I would have this affection for them. I’m always worried that something will happen to them. And even though I am a father, I still love my own parents also. They raised me, but I know that they are not perfect. They can succumb to disease. Something bad could happen to them. Therefore part of my love for them is concern of the same kind.
Friend2: And so you’re wondering how any intelligent person can be concerned about God. If they really know who He is, if they’ve been apprised of the definition of the Sanskrit word “Bhagavan,” they should know that there’s nothing to worry about with Him.
Friend1: Yeah. I’m thinking something similar to the cheering for the underdog thing. The favorite has everything going for them. What is there to worry over? How can I love God properly if I know that He is God?
Friend2: Ah, the last part of what you said is very important. There are two important energies emanating from the Supreme Lord. One is the external and the other is the internal. Both have the power to deceive.
Friend1: How so? The external potency is called maya, right?
Friend2: Yes. Maya tricks us into thinking that we are our body. It fools us into believing that people from one nation are inherently better or worse than people from another nation. Maya lures us into seeking sense gratification at the expense of the happiness of the soul. It causes us to form attachments to temporary objects, where the only guaranteed outcome is separation due to inevitable death.
Friend1: How does the internal potency deceive?
Friend2: The internal potency is also maya. Maya comes from Bhagavan. The maya of the material world is maha-maya. The maya of the internal potency is yoga-maya.
Friend1: Oh, I see. There are two mayas.
Friend2: When you’re under the care of yoga-maya, you eventually forget that God is God. This seems a little ridiculous. Because at first we’re trying to understand God through practicing regulative principles, but then at the end the objective is to eventually forget that He is God.
Friend1: So we have to intentionally try to forget Him?
Friend2: No; there’s a key distinction to make here. Under yoga-maya, we remember Him all the time. We just lose the knowledge that He is full of all opulences. We are actually much happier this way because we can love God purely then. Do you know the story of the fruit vendor in Vrindavana?
Friend1: I vaguely recall; I couldn’t tell you all the details.
Friend2: One time a fruit vendor lady came to the house of Nanda Maharaja. Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Bhagavan in His original form, rushed towards the vendor with some grains in His hand. This was to be exchanged for the fruit. But most of the grains fell out of His hand due to excitement. He was only a small child at the time. The vendor didn’t care, though. She had so much love for Krishna that she filled His hands with fruit. She gave Him fruit as if He were her top customer.
Friend1: Then didn’t the fruit in her basket turn to jewels or something?
Friend2: Yes. Krishna immediately rewarded her affection by giving her more than she sacrificed to Him. If she knew that He was God, she wouldn’t have been so willing to make the kind gesture. Under the spell of yoga-maya, her love for Krishna continued to increase. That love is what we’re all seeking, though we don’t know how to find it.
Friend1: Bhakti-yoga helps us to find it?
Friend2: Right. Even if you think there is no reason to worry over Krishna right now, just chant His names all the time and try to learn about Him. Then gradually maha-maya’s influence will dissipate. Krishna will take care of you the way He took care of the fruit vendor. When you have pure love for Him, you won’t even be consciously aware of bhakti-yoga. You will live devotion to Him.
Worrying is showing love in way one,
How then for person with deficiencies none?
God to whom everything belongs,
All wealth and worshiping throngs.
Yoga-maya in this picture a key,
No longer as Supreme Lord to see.
Like with vendor in Vrindavana selling fruit,
With pure love filling Krishna’s hands so cute.