“All the monkeys, headed by Angada, reached the seashore. With a strong desire to see you, they were frightened by the ocean and thus again became worried.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 35.69)
aṅgadapramukhāḥ sarve velopāntamupasthitāḥ |
cintām jagmuḥ punarbhītāstvaddarśanasamutsukāḥ ||
Devotional service, bhakti-yoga, is not easy. It should be straightforward. His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada also translates the term as “Krishna consciousness.” Whatever you do, just remember God the person. Your consciousness is the determining factor on the future life. There will be an afterlife, as the present is the future to some point in the past. The future will also one day become the past. This is the time factor at work.
How hard is it to be conscious of someone? He is all-attractive; hence the name Krishna. Thus it is a fulfilling experience. If you remember something bad, it is called dwelling. You shouldn’t dwell on the negative, as it will only bring you down. Krishna is pure goodness, shudda-sattva. There is no such thing as too much bhakti-yoga. Old age and disease will eventually come, followed by death. You get to take your consciousness with you to the next life, but nothing else.
śarīraṁ yad avāpnoti
yac cāpy utkrāmatīśvaraḥ
vāyur gandhān ivāśayāt
“The living entity in the material world carries his different conceptions of life from one body to another as the air carries aromas.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 15.8)
Krishna consciousness is blissful, ananda. Material consciousness brings temporary happiness. Even with steady gains, there can be misery. After all, you must protect what you have worked so hard to acquire. There is competition to enjoy more and more, so if someone sees that you have succeeded, they might try to knock you down.
Consciousness of Krishna comes through different avenues, with one of them being direct service. An example is given in the above quoted verse from the Ramayana. Here forest dwellers, known as Vanaras, from Kishkindha are on a mission to directly serve the interests of Shri Krishna in His incarnation of Rama, who is famously known through the Sanskrit poem named after Him, the Ramayana.
The Vanaras were working directly for God, but everything didn’t go easy. The Supreme Lord did not grease the skids, so to speak. He did not hand them success. He allowed them to work hard, and that journey had its ups and downs.
In this instance, the changes happened quickly. One moment they were lamenting their failure in finding Sita Devi, who is Rama’s wife. She is missing at the time. Then the next they were ecstatic, bursting with enthusiasm upon receiving valuable intelligence from a bird named Sampati. He told the Vanaras where Sita was. The servants of Sugriva, headed by Angada, approached the end of the ocean.
Then returned despondency. The Sanskrit word is chinta. In the Bhagavad-gita, Shri Krishna says that the self-realized soul, the person who understands the spiritual energy known as Brahman, no longer hankers or laments. They don’t get bogged down by chinta. From there, they are perfect candidates for taking up bhakti-yoga.
na śocati na kāṅkṣati
samaḥ sarveṣu bhūteṣu
mad-bhaktiṁ labhate parām
“One who is thus transcendentally situated at once realizes the Supreme Brahman. He never laments nor desires to have anything; he is equally disposed to every living entity. In that state he attains pure devotional service unto Me.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 18.54)
Here the Vanaras were already engaged in bhakti-yoga, but we see that chinta was present. Is there a contradiction? Actually, devotional service is a dynamic process. If the situations were static, bliss would be difficult to find. The Vanaras had lamentation, but it did not affect their behavior. They were not lamenting over any material failure. Their interest was only to please Rama.
The person retelling these events to Sita would be the one to quickly turn the tides. Devotional service has ebbs and flows, and the key to success is remaining steady. Time is always at work, after all. Just because time displays a certain vision at present doesn’t mean that whatever is manifest now will remain that way in perpetuity. The uniqueness of bhakti is that God Himself offers help. In this situation he specifically empowered Shri Hanuman to rise to the occasion.
Bhakti not always smoothly it goes,
Ups and downs, with ebbs and flows.
After valuable intelligence from Sampati earned,
Seeing vast ocean despondency returned.
Success not directly handed to you,
Work in bhakti still have to do.
Shri Rama helping the cause know,
Hanuman empowered by Him so.