The Sweetness of Bhakti
By Subhag Swami
Bhaktivinoda Thakur boldly proclaims, ‘sad-anga saranagati hoibe janhara,’ one who follows these six paths of surrender strictly, the result is ‘tahara prarthana sune sri nanda-kumara’. Krsna will respond to our prayer. Why is this so? Because Bhakti is cit-tattva. Devotional service, the Lord and His devotees do not belong to this material world but are of another.
Cit means cognition. The spiritual world is cit jagat; a realm full of perception. You will pray and get the response. In this material world of dualities, such a place is difficult if not impossible to comprehend with. In that spiritual abode everything is conscious. The walls are conscious, the floor is conscious, the land is conscious. Everything is conscious! If you ask a stone to move then it will move. If you desire something from a tree it will fulfil your desire. The Goswamis used to live under a tree each night and the following night they would lie beneath a different tree. During that short period their’ desires, spiritual desires would be fulfilled.
One of the most renowned illustrations of how the Lord reciprocates with His devotees is in the life of our great spiritual predecessor: Sripad Madhavendra Puri. Madhavendra Puri was always chanting Krsna’s names. He forgot eating, drinking and even sleeping to serve the Lord! But Krishna can never forget such a devotee. A little boy would visit Madhavendra Puri at the banks of Govinda Kunda as he chanted the names of the Lord. With His beautiful moonlike face he would exclaim, “He Baba! I have brought some milk for you. You are not eating or drinking and chanting the whole day! The local village ladies noticed you and therefore I came here with this milk. You are a sadhu and in our locality sadhus never go without something to eat!”
So Madhavendra Puri started to drink the milk and it was so nectarine and sweet. He drank and drank and drank until it was all finished. He felt a little drowsy and fell asleep. In a dream the same resplendent youth appeared and announced, “My dear Madhavendra! I am under the dirt in the bushes. Dig me up with the help of the local villagers. I am feeling hot! Bathe me! Bring me lots and lots of food, I am hungry!” The Supreme Lord Giridhari, the divine lifter of Govardhan hill Himself apeared and gave darshan to Madhavendra Puri. In this regard Sri Caitanaya Mahaprabhu therefore declared, “Who could be as fortunate as Madhavendra Puri? The Lord Himself came to him and instructed him to serve.”
We should be eager, very eager. As Srila Prabhupada beautifully wrote in a poem, ‘When will that day come when I will be rolling on the ground with Krsna and playing with Him? When will that day come when I am very eager to join with Madhu Mangala and steal sweets from Krsna? I will run onto the pastures with the cows and calves with Sridama, Sudama and Vasudama playing with Krsna and defeating Him in sports. They will then tell Krsna to carry us on His back but Krsna will be reluctant. Sridama will say, ‘Krsna cannot play with us! He doesn’t play fairly!’ Krsna will argue, ‘I am the prince, the son of Nanda Maharaj! I don’t have to obey you!’ And Sridama will say, “Okay you remain the prince and play by Yourself and we other cowherd boys will play together.”
Do we want to join in those pastimes? When will we be able to enter into the divine pastimes of the Lord? To have a peep through the window of the spiritual realm. To do so we have to pay the price. We should understand that as we have a heart so does Krishna and He also thinks, feels and wills. One who knows how to think, feel and will spiritually; to such a devotee Krishna will respond. The devotee is always looking for opportunities to serve Krishna but the Lord Himself is looking for a chance to serve His dear devotee. It is like a transcendental competition. This is the sweetness of Bhakti.