“One who is not envious but who is a kind friend to all living entities, who does not think himself a proprietor, who is free from false ego and equal both in happiness and distress, who is always satisfied and engaged in devotional service with determination and whose mind and intelligence are in agreement with Me - he is very dear to Me.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 12.13-14)Download this episode (right click and save)
During one of the more famous inaugural addresses by a POTUS, President of the United States, there was a clever call to action, inverting a desire common amongst the people. The government is all-powerful, after all. At least it is supposed to be. Therefore, it is natural for the citizens to ask things from the government. This president made an appeal to the citizens. Instead of asking what the country can do for you, ask what you can do for the country.
“O best among the Bharatas [Arjuna], four kinds of pious men render devotional service unto Me - the distressed, the desirer of wealth, the inquisitive, and he who is searching for knowledge of the Absolute.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.16)
That clever remark can easily translate to spiritual life, namely bhakti-yoga. Since God is the most powerful living entity, the powerhouse as compared to the power that is the collection of spiritual fragments, Brahman, He is capable of granting benedictions. In the Bhagavad-gita, He even puts the common desires into four categories. People approach Him when they are distressed, when they want wealth, when they seek knowledge, or when they are already knowledgeable and are looking to go beyond.
Pure bhakti-yoga, devotional service without any hints of material desire, is so amazing that it actually pleases the Supreme Lord. It is doing work for His benefit. It automatically helps the individual in ways that no material activity can. At the same time, it brings pleasure to the one who is already self-satisfied, atmarama.
1. Being a good person; exhibiting certain qualities
There is an intrinsic understanding of right and wrong, without needing to consult religion. This is commonly referred to as a conscience. The conscience is so easily understood that the worst acts are compared to it. Killing innocent children, stealing without justification, grossly offending others - these are described as “unconscionable” acts. They go against right and wrong at the most basic level.
In the Bhagavad-gita, Shri Krishna describes different qualities that are beneficial to possess. We know they are good because they make a person dear to Him. It is common to believe that being honest, trustworthy and charitable throughout life, even with the accidental mistakes made, lead a person to heaven. Krishna, as the Supreme Lord, gives more details into the matter, shedding light on what exactly constitutes good behavior. Some of the qualities include lacking envy, not being driven by the false ego, and being equal in happiness and distress.
2. Chanting the holy names
“Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare” This sacred sequence of Sanskrit words is known as the maha-mantra. Defining each of the terms, we see that this is the great deliverer of the mind. The mind needs rescue because when in the material world the individual easily falls into the trap of not behaving properly. The aforementioned qualities that make Krishna happy are not easy to acquire. Rather, being envious, being swayed by good times and the bad, and inflating the ego are more common.
Chanting the maha-mantra delivers the mind because it brings the direct presence of God. He is identical to the sound that represents Him. What may not be obvious is that this chanting also pleases Him so much. It shows that there is a desire to remember Him. Forgetfulness is the default; it is the root cause of rebirth. Trying to remember Krishna amidst all the distractions of maya makes a person very dear to Him.
3. Serving the representative
In a conversation with his wife Parvati, Lord Shiva says that better than serving God directly is serving His representative. Mahadeva is one such representative, but here he is speaking in general. He is so humble that he would never proclaim himself to represent Krishna or insist that others serve him over God.
“Of all types of worship, worship of Lord Vishnu is best, and better than the worship of Lord Vishnu is the worship of His devotee, the Vaishnava.” (Lord Shiva, Padma Purana)
This service makes a person very dear to Krishna. The reason can be traced to the chanting of the holy names. The representative is always remembering God. They are linked in consciousness to Him. Hence the yoga is unbroken. It is in bhakti because there is no personal desire. The representative is himself a symbol of sacrifice; even if all they do is chant alone in a secluded place. Other representatives travel the three worlds, taking all risks in the mission to spread the message of Divine Love. Any service offered to such representatives makes a person very dear to Krishna.
4. Glorifying Him to others
This path is tricky. It is almost like walking a tightrope. One wrong move, and instead of receiving benefit there is harm. Glorifying the gunas, or transcendental qualities, of the Lord to those who have no interest and who are completely without faith is considered bad. The reason is obvious. The envious will get the wrong idea of spiritual life, and through their influence they will taint others.
“There is no servant in this world more dear to Me than he, nor will there ever be one more dear.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 18.69)
In the Bhagavad-gita, while giving the warning to avoid speaking to the envious, Shri Krishna also says that a person who explains the spiritual science to the devotees becomes very dear to Him. The glorification helps others to find the transcendental light. It is a thankless task in a sense, since by definition success means turning a person’s consciousness towards Krishna. If I help someone in bhakti-yoga, it is not guaranteed that the person will remember me going forward. I am helping them to always stay conscious of Krishna; something that makes the Lord very pleased.
5. Being always conscious of Him
Due to the variety of circumstances in the material world, it’s not always easy to be a member of any of the aforementioned categories. I may not be able to chant the maha-mantra congregationally. I may not be able to find someone who is non-envious to hear the glories of the Supreme Lord. I may not be advanced enough to withstand the nonpermanent appearance of happiness and distress, which come and go like the winter and summer seasons.
“O son of Kunti, the nonpermanent appearance of happiness and distress, and their disappearance in due course, are like the appearance and disappearance of winter and summer seasons. They arise from sense perception, O scion of Bharata, and one must learn to tolerate them without being disturbed.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.14)
I can still be dear to Krishna. I just have to be conscious of Him. That is sufficient. Shri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is very lenient in this regard. He considered any person who chants the holy names to be a devotee. The names can be chanted within. Consciousness, internal remembrance and contemplation, is the same as chanting. In this regard it is easy for any person to be dear to Krishna, and His favor is the one most worth seeking.
Ask not how country to benefit you,
But for country what you can do.
Saying when to spiritual life transitioned,
To pleasing God living entity positioned.
Following morality, steady and of good cheer,
Not fazed by good and bad, then to Krishna dear.
Chanting holy names, His glories describing,
Consciousness is key the saint prescribing.