“The embodied soul may be restricted from sense enjoyment, though the taste for sense objects remains. But, ceasing such engagements by experiencing a higher taste, he is fixed in consciousness.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.59)Download this episode (right click and save)
rasa-varjaṁ raso 'py asya
paraṁ dṛṣṭvā nivartate
A slight alteration to the routine has done wonders. Previously, this person was constantly angry. They were upset by the slightest provocation. A car cutting them off on the highway immediately warranted a honking of the horn. Likely that was followed by an obscene gesture. Despite having hundreds of channels to watch on television, there was agitation over not finding anything of interest. From eating the richest foods every single day, a slight deviation in the preparation style would bring chastisement for the cook.
Now everything has changed. The same person is calm, collected, cool, and level-headed. They have appreciation for all living things, not just human beings. They are a perfect gentlemen, in every way that can be measured. The catalyst for the transformation was the introduction of the routine of chanting the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
This sequence of words is known as the maha-mantra, and it is the foundation of bhakti-yoga practice in the modern age, especially as taught by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and His followers. A person can spend an entire lifetime studying the wonders of bhakti-yoga. It is impossible to properly glorify everything related to that ancient and evergreen discipline, but one way is to study what things it doesn’t promise to bring. For a person to still take it up as a way of life means that the yoga of love and devotion, bhakti, is truly something special.
1. You might become poor
There is an annual survey released by a popular website that lists the highest paying jobs in a particular region. There is interest in such a survey because it provides an idea of what fields have the highest average compensation. To younger people salary is a contributing factor in deciding which career path to follow. That is a decision they must eventually make.
Bhakti-yoga does not promise a high salary. Indeed, the object of service, the person who is worshiped, is known by many names, with one of them being Hari. This Sanskrit word has several meanings. One of them is “one who takes away.”
The Supreme Lord, seeing the sincerity in devotion, may take away objects and association that He views as hindrances towards ultimate fulfillment of the real promise of bhakti. There is great concern to stamp out poverty worldwide, so what sane person would voluntarily enter an occupation that might make them poor? Yet since time immemorial countless souls have fearlessly accepted that path.
2. You might lose your standing in society
The perfection of bhakti-yoga practice, a person who is always in full consciousness of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is Shrimati Radharani. She is the queen of Vrindavana. She owns the heart of Shri Hari in His original form of Krishna, the son of Yashoda and Nanda.
She is eternally with Krishna, but sometimes she comes to this world. When He descends, she comes with Him. During her earthly pastimes, she actually lives separate from Krishna. She is a gopi, a cowherd woman, and under the material evaluation we could say she has trouble. To associate with Krishna, of whom she never stops thinking, they must rendezvous in the middle of the night, meeting in the beautiful forest. They famously dance together under the bright moon of Sharada Purnima. This dance is known as the rasa-lila, and other devoted gopis meet with Krishna there as well.
Shrimati Radharani is under constant suspicion. She is married to someone besides Krishna. The same applies for many of the gopis. This external predicament is for the purpose of increasing the love they have for the Supreme Lord. It facilitates parakiya-rasa, which is a special kind of mellow tasted when the material situation seems to present the greatest obstacles towards bhakti-yoga practice.
Radharani is known for chastising Krishna. He appreciates this more than the hymns of the Vedas, which praise His opulences. Radha’s mood is very loving, and part of that mood is bemoaning her plight of loneliness. Her reputation isn’t so great within the family. Practically everyone is against her. The only thing she has is her fixed consciousness of Shri Krishna. Yet she experiences the highest bliss through that consciousness alone. Through her blessings, others are able to remain fixed in the path of devotion, even if they lose their standing in society as a result.
3. Your friends and family might turn against you
If you tell your family members that you’re going to become a doctor, why wouldn’t they be pleased with that decision? A doctor is such a value to society. Sick people will always be there. One of the four miseries of a material existence is disease. Science may have made tremendous progress in eliminating the onset of many diseases, but death still occurs. Disease cannot be removed altogether. Hence the constant need for doctors.
The family might be fine with a decision to go into law, engineering, biology, or chemistry. Indeed, any occupation that provides enough money for comfortable living will be fine. What if you tell your family that you’re going to be a beggar for the rest of your life? Not to get out of working, but you want to move from place to place to spread the message of Divine Love. You will depend on the Supreme Lord for your sustenance. If He provides food through the grace of charitable and kind-hearted souls, then fine. If this doesn’t happen, then you are prepared to starve.
In most cases, the family will lament. They might seek psychiatric help for you. They may try to force you to stay at home. Yet people enter this path anyway. Bhakti-yoga is described as unmotivated and uninterrupted. Basically, if the sincerity is there, nothing can be done to stop its exercise.
4. You might lose interest in practically everything
One of the symptoms of the onset of the common cold is that things start to taste funny. Food that you previously liked to eat is no longer palatable. It is nothing to worry about, since the cold doesn’t last for a long time.
What if you lost your sense of taste altogether? What if you ate only to maintain your body, not caring about the experience? Expand this situation out and consider not having any interest in so many things. Previously watching sports on television was a great pastime. You enjoyed following politics and having debates with your friends on national security policy and the role of government in the lives of people.
After following bhakti-yoga, you’ve lost all interest in these things. To the outsider, this is tragic. How can you enjoy life without eating meat? What fun is there if you don’t gamble every now and then? Illicit sex life is no longer shunned; it is practically encouraged. To give that up seems like torture. No drinking, either? Come on. Where is the fun in life?
5. You will find a higher taste
This is the positive to bhakti-yoga. This single positive outweighs every other negative combined. This taste, known as bhakti-rasa, cannot be found anywhere else. It will never be found in material life, which Prahlada Maharaja describes as chewing the chewed.
The higher taste is the justification for continuing on in spite of the aforementioned issues. That taste alone makes bhakti more rewarding than any high paying occupation. Bhakti brings the association of God the person, who is the best friend, mother, father, teacher, companion, and everything else to the devotee. Surrender means accepting Him as the ultimate benefactor. The experience resulting from that surrender is what draws the great souls to bhakti-yoga. The experience keeps them there, and through their example we see just how special bhakti-yoga is.
That bhakti something special to be,
From example of saints can see.
No more standing, loss of fame,
Not much money from it to gain.
Interest in things no longer there,
Since constantly of Krishna aware.
The positive everything else outweighing,
Higher taste from just Lord’s name saying.