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What Do We Mean By “Maturity”?

Monday, 10 September 2018 / Published in Articles / 4,780 views

By Akruranatha Dasa

From time to time we hear that a certain devotee is “mature”. We know it is a positive thing, but what does it really mean? How can we become the kind of devotee that others will call “mature”? What is the evidence regarding “maturity” in our revealed scriptures?

I think it is a good topic for discussion and would like to hear the realizations of others. Here are some of my thoughts:

1. One of the hallmarks of a madhyama adhikari is knowing how to properly interact with different kinds of devotees and non-devotees. Maturity in one sense means coming at least to that platform of knowing how to behave well with others.

2. Young, green devotees may have a tendency to be fanatical, to be “religious flag wavers”, or to be contemptuous of sense enjoyers due to their own lingering material attachments and envy (See, Srila Prabhupada’s letter to Lynne Ludwig, published in “Science of Self-Realization”). They may be overly attached to rules and regulations without knowing the purposes behind them, or unsteady in their observance of rules and regulations (nyama-agraha or niyama-aagraha). They may be very chauvinistic or “patriotic” about their connection with one church or organization or saint without themselves embodying the qualities of saintliness. Mature devotees will be enthusiastic for preaching, but careful to do so in effective ways without leaving bad impressions.

3. Obviously, “maturity” is not just a euphemism for being old. However, we do expect a mature devotee to be one who has regularly practiced the regulative principles for a long time. We know that a person can achieve perfection in bhakti yoga in a very short time, but usually it is a more gradual practice that ripens over a lifetime. A mature devotee is steady and in it for the long haul, not a “flash in the pan”. Moreover, such a devotee is patient and kind to less advanced devotees, knowing that they will become steady with gradual practice.

4. “He is a perfect yogi who, by comparison with his own self, sees the true equality of all beings, in both their happiness and distress, O Arjuna!” (B.G. 6.32) A mature devotee has genuine compassion based on the ability to see, through his or her own experience, how spirit souls are suffering under the spell of false identification with their bodies, and how they can achieve real happiness by being fixed in Krishna consciousness.

5. Genuine maturity in devotional service has to come from one’s immersion in Krsna consciousness and not merely from “external” learning of good manners. One can graduate from finishing school and be well-trained in the rules of etiquette without being a mature devotee. Nevertheless, if a devotee is insensitive to the feelings of others, lacking in etiquette, or rude in speech or behavior, it is a good sign he or she is still immature in the matter of chanting the holy names. “One who wants to be recognized as a devotee should develop the good qualifications.” (B.G. 12.18-19, Purport)

6. In the Third Canto of Srimad Bhagavatam, Lord Kapiladeva instructs Devahuti about mixed devotional service according to the three modes of nature. Those whose service is mixed with the mode of ignorance are harsh to others and consider themselves to be the best or the only devotee, those in the mode of passion expect some reward from devotional service, such as wealth or prestige. Srimad Bhagavatam aims at completely unmotivated and uninterrupted, spontaneous devotional service free even from the material mode of goodness, but are the symptoms of bhakti mixed with ignorance and passion what we mean by immaturity? Can we say that a mixed devotee whose service is in the material mode of goodness is mature?

We can probably all remember with embarrassment times we called our friends and families “demons” or otherwise acted or spoke like programmed robots, without genuine or deep understanding. Please share your thoughts, experiences and realizations about what “maturity” in devotional service means to you.

All Devotees Should Write
“A Good Soul”

15 Responses to “What Do We Mean By “Maturity”?”

  1. I am glad that someone else is writing about various aspects of devotee living. As for Maturity, we can say that there is material maturity applicable to responsible dealings such as state diplomacy, education, leadership and so on.

    Material maturity can also entail being “street wise,” having “done this, done that” and “been around the block.” There can be excessive maturity that manifests as trauma, as in child abuse, child soldiers forced to maim and kill, and the rest. Such trauma usually results in blunt de-sensitivity.

    These types of maturity are surface deep, often masking frivolous fulfilment of material desires or unspoken suffering. We can safely say that those of the 4 types of pious persons who come to Krishna consciousness, possess certain types of material maturity.

    This maturity has an advantage in allowing sraddha to develop on account of getting away from material suffering. Depending on the new devotees’ maturity disposition, and the type of teaching they receive, their practice of Krishna consciousness can be symptomatic of the 3 modes.

    The question being asked is, what is genuine Krishna conscious maturity?

    Krishna conscious maturity does not depend on the age of the body. Sri Prahlada had uncommon maturity even as a child. The 4 Kumaras are able to instruct great personalities like Prthu Maharaja. Sukadeva Goswami spoke “the MATURE fruit” of the Vedas in a relishable way.

    It stands to reason then, that those who fully imbibe the spirit and essence of Srimad Bhagavatam must also be very mature. But it is not as simple as that. Immature devotees also hear and study Srimad Bhagavatam. So what determines maturity?

    Living the Bhagavat precepts and hearing of them should take up the use of constant practice – abhyasa-yoga. This practice done in association of learned and experienced devotees and chanting with sincerity should bestow the ultimate combination of practice and experience – tad vijnanam. Real maturity is that which descends from transcendence as vijnana.

    Ys Kesava Krsna Dasa.

  2. pustakrishna says :

    Bhakti is a process of becoming more and more receptive to Krishna. Perhaps less interested in one’s own station and more intensely interested in Krishna’s fullness and wonder. Sri Krishna is the creator of all, and everything is resting upon Him like pearls on a thread.
    The bhakta who thinks that he or she has it together may in fact find themselves resting upon a landing between flights of stairs leading to Krishna. It is true that Srila Rupa Goswami has made it possible for the bhakta to evaluate their current situation through the teachings of The Nectar of Devotion (Bhaktirasamrita Sindhu). Hopefully, one will be drawn further into searching for Krishna through such analysis. There is no endpoint for one’s self, especially when placing the Supreme exchange between Krishna and Sri Radha, as the vortex of reality of love of God. Self-satisfaction is not a goal. Self forgetfulness may accompany Krishna consciousness. Pratishtha may represent yet another snare of the conditioned soul to establish themselves apart from Krishna, or in competition with Krishna.
    Along the path of bhakti, the ideal of full surrender to Krishna is manifesting. Krishna consciousness rather than illusory self-consciousness. Many will look around and try to find someone that they would like to be like. I recall in earlier days how charismatic and affectionate Vishnujana Maharaj was. Many a devotee loved his style and would try to imitate his manners, singing, and so on. This may be a natural phenomenon. We are advised to follow in the footsteps of the Mahajanas. Yet, on the other hand, (Om purnam adah purnam idam…)the jiva soul is perfect and complete, when realizing the Supreme Complete, Krishna, and relationship with Him. We must be careful not to imitate another for the sake of becoming better known or better situated in this world of illusion.
    So, in discussing maturity, one must not arrive at the conclusion that maturity reflects one who “has it together” in this world. Srila Rupa Goswami has reflected that what is needed is enthusiasm, determination, and patience. Fighting off the witches of material sense enjoyment, desire for liberation, material power or mystic perfection, and the like, one with evolving faith trusts that Krishna’s mercy is everything. Maturity in the final analysis may be synonymous with deepening faith in Sri Krishna and Sri Guru. Pusta Krishna das

  3. Kesava Krishna Prabhu raised the issue of material maturity, and I think Pusta Krishna Prabhu also distinguished “having it together” in this word (material maturity) from actual maturity in devotional service.

    This is an interesting point. One can be devotionally mature and yet have no money, no friends in high places, no fame or learning or skill in music or art or poetry or making money and “getting by”.

    And yet, to a certain extent we do expect those who are mature in devotional service to have certain abilities to get along well in the world, don’t we? We expect them to be peaceful and satisfied. We expect them to be empathetic and good at sizing up and dealing with different types of people. We expect them to have a certain amount of discretion regarding what to say, when and how to preach to different people, when to just give someone prasdam, and whom to avoid altogether.

    It may well be that when devotees talk about so-and-so being “mature”, they are including some idea of material maturity or skill at getting along. Or is it that these skills or habits of knowing what to say and whom to preach to are also signs of devotional maturity?

    An “immature” devotee may be wrapped up in himself, not aware of the impression he makes on others. People get the sense that such a devotee is repeating doctrinal formulas without practical realization, without deeper understanding of how to apply them to solve the problems of life. One sign of realization is to be able to explain the essential truth of Krishna consciousness in an appropriate way to different audiences, taking into account how the audience will be able to understand.

    We hear that a devotee who has achieved perfection in chanting laughs and cries like a madman, not caring for outsiders. But even devotees in genuine bhava often will control their ecstasy to perform their service. Besides, devotees who actually have such ecstatic symptoms are rare.

    More often, a mature devotee will pay attention to the kind of impression he makes on others, especially because our devotional service in ISKCON is a social activity. We are building communities of devotees based on love and trust, and we are trying to inspire non-devotees to come and associate with devotees and appreciate the chanting, the prasadam, the literature, the philosophy and the experience of Krsna consciousness as a positive thing. We want people to think, “I like those Hare Krishnas”.

  4. krsnaLH says :

    Thank you, Akruranatha Prabhu, for giving all of us your thoughtful association. I will try to follow in your footsteps and also think about maturity.

    Lord Caitanya talks about mature and immature sadhaka bhaktas when explaining the atmarama verse. Srila Prabhupada translates jata-rati sadhaka-bhakta as “mature devotees” in cc madhya 24.290. Jata means “arisen, aroused, produced, manifested, appeared, born” so a jata-rati sadhaka-bhakta is a practicing devotee in whom rati has arisen or manifested.

    Spiritual rati, attachment, is described as the beginning seed of love of Godhead (cc madhya 23.44) and as an attachment found in the seed of affection (cc madhya 22.165). Rati is described in the Bhakti rasamrta sindu as “When a tenderness of the heart is manifested, there is rati, or attachment…” (cc Madhya 19.177 purport), and Srila Prabhupada continues to say “When one is free of material contamination, attachment for krsna’s service awakens and is called rati.” Therefore, a mature practicing devotee is recognized by his attachment to krsna’s service, his tenderness of heart, and his freedom from material contamination.

    Devotees manifesting attachment to krsna’s service is an enlightening thing to think about. Krsna’s service is acting in ways that please krsna. So a mature devotee is someone who is always manifesting actions that are meant to please krsna, because he likes to please krsna more than he likes anything else. Your listed ideas of maturity seem to revolve around how a devotee manifests his dealings with others–both practicing devotees and fully forgetful souls: he properly interacts with everyone, he is not contemptuous of anyone, he leaves a good impression, he is patient and kind to less advanced devotees, he is sensitive and not rude… These qualities appear to be those qualities that are dear to krsna as they are manifested by Him and explained in bhakti rasamrta sindu: pleasing talker, forbearing, forgiving, magnanimous, compassionate, respectful, gentle….

    We can by ourselves do so little bit of service, but if we can in some way encourage and help others to increase their attachment to krsna by dealing with them in humble and purely helpful mood, then krsna’s pleasure can so much increase.

    I thank you truly prabhu for engaging me in thoughts of krsna and His service. It was a great benefit to me.

  5. pustakrishna says :

    This line of thought is very interesting to consider. But………….what we are doing is not really doing. Bhakti yoga is the art of dovetailing in Krishna’s service. Someone may have a very fine material sensibility, and another may be very dysfunctional in material matters. Neither position is inherently better than the other. Both are the fruit of past karma. We are not these bodies, we are not of this world, being part of the para-prakriti or spiritual energy (albeit currently tatashtha or marginal). We are dovetailing what energy has come to us in bhakti yoga, or we are thieves lording over what is not ours. Maturity is truly not a material quality when it comes to Krishna consciousness. Some qualities that we often do not associate with piety can occasionally be valuable to Krishna’s service, such as when Arjuna fights on behalf of Krishna. Certainly, the victims of Arjuna’s arrows are not being preached to.
    The point I want to make, is that we must shake up our conventional conceptions of nearly everything in order to begin to see Krishna. What is night for the sage is daytime for the materialist, and what is daytime for the sage is night for the materialist. Hence, with our material calculation we are practically always wrong. So the issue of maturity may need to be looked upon in this manner also.
    If we see that someone has fine material karma, and they dovetail that in Krishna’s service, that is fine. But, if one does not exhibit fine material opulences yet is dovetailed heart and soul to Krishna, that is spiritual maturity. When one thinks they are independent, they are “mad or crazy”, and when one feels deeply dependent upon Krishna, that is sanity. So, we must not mistake good karma with maturity. Nor, should we mistake less opulent material qualities with a lack of spiritual maturity. Krishna knows our hearts, and nothing is hidden from Him…and we pray that He will not be hidden from us.
    Good topic for discussion. Affectionately, Pusta Krishna das

  6. Within Iskcon, we may have experienced how sometimes a ‘together’ and materially mature individual is given responsibility, sometimes leading other devotees who may be more senior and spiritually mature than he. Because that individual lacks spiritual maturity, gaps often appear on the pretext of ‘efficient’ management or expertise.

    Situations like this can create an impression of performing service for the Lord as a sort of ‘work’ or office-like imposition. Results might be more important than the devotees themselves might. This is hardly conducive for cordial devotee relationships.

    Although real maturity is vijnana descended from transcendence, there are still relative levels of maturity. These are used in various capacities for service to Iskcon. By and large we count upon a devotee who has experienced thick and thin in Iskcon terms as mature. Yet there are many unassuming devotees who are spiritually mature, but are not engaged accordingly.

    Such devotees are not going to advertise themselves, but leaders and managers should develop a talent for identifying such devotees. If devotees like these are not interested in management, they can be assigned roles for Standards Committees or Advisory help and so on.

    As often happens in the business world where it is ‘Who-you-know’ that enables lucrative deals, it is often the case among devotees – if you are close to a leading devotee or are friends with him – then chances are increased for responsible service opportunities. It is natural human behaviour.

    When these sort of interactions take place among devotees, does this reflect our maturity as an Iskcon Society? Devotees are meant to be mature trendsetters and examples for the rest of humanity. But for practical purposes it seems hard to identify maturity. If Vijnana defines real maturity, then we are dealing with something quite rare.

    Ys Kesava Krsna Dasa.

  7. SriGopaldas says :

    Part One

    Hare Krishna. All glories to His Divine Grace Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada.

    Maturity word is overrated because it’s true meaning is not realized properly. No one can be matured materially or spiritually other than one who is perfectly in union with the mood of the Supreme Personality of Godhead Sri Krishna Paramatma. Whether it is material activities or spiritual activities one is bound to make mistakes or not do it right in terms of relating to ordinary people or devotees including advanced vaishnavas. We can see in the spiritual institutions gurus, sannyasis, etc. who were considered very advanced or mature end up doing something that is very immature and lower themselves in the eyes of those who looked up to them. Same thing with the powerful materially motivated leaders who seem to be riding the horse of success who seem to make all the right decision suddenly thrown off that horse and end up having serious problems. The reason,

    Daivi hy esa gunamayi
    Mama maya duratyaya
    Mam eva ye prapadyante
    Mayam etam taranti te

    “This divine energy of Mine, consisting of the three modes of material nature, is difficult* to overcome. But those who have surrendered unto Me can easily cross beyond it.” BG 7.14

    *Actually for conditioned souls like us it is totally impossible unless Srila Prabhupada showers His Divine Mercy on us, of course, this is something the direct disciples of Srila Prabhupada has experienced it and can vouch for it.

    The Divine Energy of Sri Krishna, Vishnu Maya is the reason no one can consider themselves as mature unless of course that person is connected to the Supreme Lord within his/her heart.

    “tesam evanukampartham aham ajnana-jam tamah
    nasayamy atma-bhava-stho jnana-dipena bhasvata”

    “To show them special mercy, I, dwelling in their hearts, destroy with the shining lamp of knowledge the darkness born of ignorance.” (BG 10.11).

    Unless the above mentioned verse becomes our reality there is no way one can be considered mature as that person will tend to make mistake in dealing with ordinary people and spiritual personalities. In the following verse Sri Krishna is telling Sri Arjuna how to become spiritually and materially mature.

    Mac-cittah sarva-durgani
    Mat-prasadat tarisyasi
    Atha cet tvam ahankaran
    Na srosyasi vinanksyasi

    Continued in part Two

  8. SriGopaldas says :

    Part Two

    Mac-cittah sarva-durgani
    Mat-prasadat tarisyasi
    Atha cet tvam ahankaran
    Na srosyasi vinanksyasi

    “If you become conscious of Me, you will pass over all the obstacles of conditional life by My grace. If, however, you do not work in such consciousness but act through false ego, not hearing Me, you will be lost.” (BG 18.58)

    Sakti buddhi hina
    ami ati dina

    jogyate vichare kichu nahin pahi
    tomara karuna sara

    “The Guru is not an erring mortal whose activities can be understood by the fallible reason of unreclaimed humanity. There is an eternally impassable line of demarcation between the Saviour and the saved. Those who are really saved can alone know this.” ( Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura Srila Prabhupada)

    We sing the following prayers everyday in front of Srila Prabhupada. It is related to the same verse that is in Srimad Bhagavad Gita 10.11.

    Cakshu dana dilo jei janme janme prabhu sei
    divya jnana hrdaya prakasito

    prema bhakti jaha hoite avidya vinasha jate
    vede gaya jahara charito

    Yasya deve para bhaktir
    Yatha deve tatha gurau
    Tasyaite kathita hy arthah
    Prakasante mahatmanah

    “Only unto those great souls who simultaneously have implicit faith in both the Lord and the Spiritual Master are all the imports of Vedic knowledge automatically revealed.” Svetsvatara Upanisad 6.23

    Unless we live the life that is being prescribed by Sri Krishna in the Srimad Bhagavad Gita and realize the statement of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura Srila Prabhupada and the meaning of above prayer and verses, we will always end up disturbing someone in our day to day ordinary dealings whether it is spiritual or material. I guess if we don’t follow what the Supreme Lord is ordering us to do in the above 18.58 verse; I guess that qualifies us as immature.

    lowly servant in the service of Sri Guru Srila Prabhupada

    SriGopaldas

  9. pustakrishna says :

    Sri Gopaldas’ reply is spot on. I want to raise the question of why we might try to adore those with “maturity” in material or spiritual association. Is it a subtle attempt to gain standing or pratishtha? Is it that one desires to be lifted up by that association? After all, we are encouraged to keep the association of elevated vaishnavas. Even when we recite the Holy Names of God, we are associating with the highest association in the form of the Personality of Godhead. There is thus a philosophical rationale for seeking ‘higher’ association. It is based upon the personal realization that one is infinitesimal, insignificant, and fully dependent. One can only be purified by associating with higher purity. One must not consider that they are “self-purifying”. Even Srila Prabhupad often expressed that he is taking the role of spiritual master as a service to his spiritual master. He sometimes would outwardly express his humility and feelings that he had no time left in his life to achieve purity for himself, but “you young people, you have time to become Krishna conscious” (expressed in Mayapur during a morning lecture). False prestige is unfavorable for spiritual surrender.

    Next, one can look upon moments of self-reflection of one’s position as a self-analytical ‘time out’ taken to assess if one is on the path or off the path. Even so, this process may (will!) involve many many lifetimes. Our only factor to expedite our journey is the mercy of Sri Guru Vaishnava and Sri Krishna. All is Krishna’s grace. Pusta Krishna das

  10. I want to thank all the devotees who have contributed to this discussion thus far.

    I do not think I am ready to give up on the concept of “maturity”, either materially or spiritually, though I do appreciate the critique that it can be a word that is misused, misunderstood, or that there may be some material motive behind trying to appreciate good qualities that are not necessarily pure devotional qualities.

    It seems true that our acaryas (and Srimad Bhagavatam) sometimes display a very black and white attitude that only 100% pure devotional service is worthwhile, and anything short of that is worthless. We know that these are statements of truly mature devotees (e.g., yasyasti bhaktir bhagavaty akincana sarvair gunais tatra samasate surah…)

    Yet in our practical life we sometimes find it necessary to exercise discrimination beyond this “wet stool, dry stool, anything that isn’t 100% perfect is simply stool” outlook. I mean, we may remember that our goal is to please Guru and Krishna and act in pure Krsna consciousness, but we still have to be able to size up people we are dealing with and understand what kind of capabilities and strengths and weaknesses they may have in accomplishing different tasks.

    And yet even if they are very materially capable and “mature” in the sense of being able to function successfully in various social or business settings, if they are not devotees we do not value their association.

    And if they are devotees, we have every hope that they will quickly develop all the good qualities that devotees are famously decorated with, like tolerance and mercy and equanimity and humility and kindness to all and detachment from material, degrading conduct.

    But can we also recognize that some of these “green mangoes” are not yet ripe enough to be the ones we really ought to engage in high-level positions as leaders and spokespersons for our ISKCON organizations?

    I brought the topic up because I was “blogging” among a group of older devotees, some of whom were openly “no longer interested in Krishna consciousness”, and several of them called me “immature”, albeit for different reasons. I know sometimes people shoot from the hip on the internet, and I was probably being misunderstood, but it made me think, “What does it mean?” “Am I really ‘immature’?” “How can I improve?”

    One of these folks took issue with something Srila Prabhupada wrote about there being “no love in the material world,” …

  11. I tried to explain the distinction between real “prema’ (transcendental love of God) and materially-tinged “kama”, or so-called love. I pointed out that Christians use the Greek words “eros” and “agape” to refer to the same concept, and spoke a little about Plato’s dialog “Symposium”. (The fellow I was talking to was an intellectual former devotee whom I had admired, yet he had become disaffected or disillusioned by what he saw as a “black and white” attitude among devotees that cuts them off from love and friendship with very nice people who happen not to be devotees.)

    I think I understood what he meant, and I happened to disagree with him, but the comments he made and those of some others made me think about “maturity”, what me mean by it, why it can be a good quality for a devotee to have in order to be an effective preacher (though it is no substitute for purity), etc.

    I mean, many of us can probably remember some cringe-worthy things we said to our family and friends when we first became devotees, that made them think we had become brainwashed by some strange cult. I know I can.

    Yet it really is a regulative principle that a devotee should not mix extensively with materialistic or sensual people. This can be one of the prime symptoms of Vaisnava behavior (“asat sanga tyagat ei vaisnava acara”).

    One of the things that made these people call me “immature” was that “every conversation [with me] has to be about Krishna”, and I thought to myself, “Really? Jaya! I had not realized that I had such a good quality. If someone only speaks about Krishna that must be a very good thing, and soon the rest of his consciousness will surely follow.”

    But I thought, “Maybe it is the *way* I speak about Krishna that annoys them. Maybe it is better to know when to be silent, or to show some interest in their thoughts and feelings. If it seems forced or inappropriate, my speaking about Krishna, good though it may be, could be a sign of immaturity.”

    A good book distributor gets a sense of how what he or she says will affect the potential customer. Some sensitivity and empathy is required. Being able to present Krishna consciousness in a way suited for the audience (or knowing when to refrain from confronting people) can be a good quality for a preacher.

    We may already seem a bit mad to materialists, but that is no reason we should really act out of touch with social realities.

  12. pustakrishna says :

    This morning I was thinking about the distinction between religiosity and surrender to God. The activities of civilized human beings are dharma, artha, kama, moksha. All of these are materially motivated (I will explain). Krishna encourages us: Sarva dharman parityagya…

    Materially tinged dharma is self-centric, family or society centric. In some or many ways, it places human satisfaction over the desires and will of God. Practically anything can be justified, even killing, for the sake of dharma. Interestingly, Krishna persuades Arjuna to fight for Him, to surrender to Him, to become His instrument. It is a very subtle but important distinction. So maturity must take into consideration that Krishna’s desire is paramount. These are things that can blur the distinction between religiosity and spirituality. Intention, consciousness, devotion are critical elements. But, if you ask me, it is very difficult to explain this distinction in so many words.

    When dealing with others, we have the opportunity to view them in very different ways. One may consider them as non-devotee karmis, or one may view them as suffering souls, forgetful of Krishna. The key is that you must be capable to protect your treasure, your Krishna consciousness, when interacting with things and people not directly connected with Krishna’s service. If one can practice that, it is a step in the direction of maturity in so much as one is able to interact with the world. However, if a pujari spends 30 years in the dedicated service of the Dieties, meditating through thought and deed on the service of Krishna, this is maturity. How do we then define maturity? It must be judged by the depth and consistency of thinking, feeling and willing for Krishna. I can recall many instances in my own life where I fell short of such maturity…but I continue by His grace and the well-wishes of Srila Prabhupad to persevere as best I can. And, I suggest that we encourage others to persevere in that line as well. When Akruranath tries to encourage some of our godbrothers to re-ignite the fire of Krishna consciousness, his compassion is clear. When his plea is rejected, even when offered “immaturely” as he might say, it is still maturity in action…but do not be attached to the outcome, but rather be cognizant of one’s sincere service attempt to Srila Prabhupad. If one is trying with sincerity to please Sri Gurudeva, that is maturity, even if the effort does not bare fruit. PustaKrishna

  13. pustakrishna says :

    Contemplating this topic further, it came to me that “maturity” in Krishna consciousness is not materially conventional. When, in the spiritual plane, the internal potency, bhaktas are extensions of Krishna’s pleasure reciprocation. We have read that when Krishna blows His Divine Flute, the gopis rush to Krishna regardless of their attire. They drop everything and go to Krishna. Conventional material thinking would take other things like propriety into consideration. But, all for Krishna’s satisfaction. How wonderful is Krishna prema!!!

    Deepening faith is desirable of course. I recall one “joke” told by our Gopavrindapal once. A man falls off a cliff and on the way down he catches hold of a tree branch. It is a long way down and no avenue for rescue. The man is desperate! He calls out: “If there is a God, please rescue me. I promise I will be obedient for now on.” The man, hanging on to the branch, hears a voice call out: “Let go of the branch…I will catch you.” Bewildered, he looks around again and cries out again: “Is there any body else out there?”
    Humorous but instructive.

    Maturity thus may sometimes appear conventional or unconventional to our vision. The activities of some great vaishnavas in our line like Srila Gaurakisora das Babaji are unfathomable to the mundane eye. For Srila Prabhupad to sit in a park under a tree as an aged man and begin to sing with cymbals is highly unconventional to the western eye. But, his deep faith was the initiation of a world wide spiritual movement that has touched billions of people past, present, and future. How we view maturity therefore is helped by thinking of these examples that we have. Even if we do not possess such maturity ourselves, we can associate with their examples and find deeper anxiety to reach Krishna. Laulyam, hankering for Krishna… Pusta Krishna das

  14. jaytirtha says :

    Thanks to all the devotees for sharing their thoughts !

    As per my understanding “Maturity in Krishna Consciousness” is pretty much analogous to “a developed Krishna Consciousness”. A Mango is more tasteful and relishable when it is mature or ripened. Following the same, it will be flawless to say when one’s devotional service becomes more relishable by the Lord, then he/she is to be considered in a mature or a developed stage of Krishna Consciousness (SB 4.9.12, purport)

    Ours is a philosophy: not to try to see God, but to act in such a way that God may like to see us. A soul, a part and parcel of Lord Krishna, can never be happy by trying to enjoy anything in the creation as this is against his natural position. The natural position of the soul is to offer enjoyment to the Lord with love and devotion as per the “drg-drsya vicara” or “the seer and the seen” principle broadcasted by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada on this planet. One who has duly realized this “drg-drsya vicara” concept, and is constantly endeavoring to give enjoyment to Lord Krishna (through the transparent medium of Guru Parampara) under all circumstances is a mature person in Krishna consciousness.

    Continued in part 2

  15. jaytirtha says :

    Part 2 by Jaytirtha

    However, to come to the mature stage of Krishna Consciousness, in the beginning stage of devotional service, namely Sadhana stage, one has to be dictated by the instructions given by the Lord via Guru-Sadhu-Shastra, otherwise, one is sure to get distracted on the path to mature devotional service. Hence, to be in complete harmony with the will of the Lord and His representatives, one need to have a prayerful attitude and conscious endeavors to understand their will in all one’s actions (be it cleaning, cooking, worshiping the deities, managing devotees, organizing events, discussing various issues or preaching to individuals etc.).

    “A Vaisnava is described as para-duhkha-duhkhi because although he is never distressed in any condition of life, he is distressed to see others in a distressed condition. Vaisnavas, therefore, should not try to kill by any action of the body or mind, but should try to revive the Krishna consciousness of others out of compassion for them.” [SB 4.6.47] – This is the attitude of a Vaisnava preacher ! We can study examples of Prahlad Maharaja,Vasudeva datta, Nityananda Prabhu, Haridas Thakur, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta sarasvati and our most beloved Srila Prabhupada to learn how they exercised various aspects of preaching namely – social sensitivity, preaching strongly, showing empathy, emphatic chastisement, gentle behavior, exposing cheaters, building good relationships etc. under different time, place and circumstances. As Srila Prabhupada mentions in SB 1.5.16 purport : “Devotional service is dynamic activity, and the expert devotees can find out competent means to inject it into the dull brains of the materialistic population.!”

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