By Ajitananda dasa
The desire for friendship is universal. It is based on our propensity to love someone. This propensity is thoughtfully explained by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada in the ‘Nectar of Devotion’, one of the philosophical cornerstones of the Krishna consciousness movement.
In his preface, Srila Prabhupada writes: ‘The basic principle of the living condition is that we have a general propensity to love someone. No one can live without loving someone else. This propensity is present in every living being. Even an animal like a tiger has this loving propensity, at least in a dormant stage, and it is certainly present in the human beings. The missing point, however, is where to repose our love so that everyone can become happy. That missing point is Krishna. The ‘Nectar of Devotion’ explains how to stimulate our original love for Krishna and how to be situated in that position where we can enjoy our blissful life.’
The Vedic literatures tell us that our original friend is Lord Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. In the material world, we mistakenly try to re-create our blissful, primeval relationship with Him through various temporal relationships, all of which fail to satisfy our perpetual longing for perfect friendship. Krishna, or God, is the divine fountainhead of the loving sentiment that can be seen in all living beings. The Vedas explain that God created us out of His inexhaustible desire for loving exchanges. Thus friendship with Him is the original state of the soul.
Since we are eternally part of Krishna, there is a natural intimacy between Him and us. He is residing within our hearts as the Supersoul, graciously accompanying us as we wander throughout the universe, life after life, in search of lasting happiness. Unlike us, God possesses a spiritual vision that is never dimmed by material contact, and thus He is perfectly aware of our folly. As our true friend, He exhibits His kindness upon us by allowing us to learn through our own experience the futility of our efforts, and He lovingly deflects our attention back to Himself, the abode of all happiness. Because Lord Krishna is supremely pure, His friendship is never contaminated with the selfish motives that stain material relationships.
In the material world, everyone is ultimately concerned with his or her own interest. Even our friendships are part of our plan for our own enjoyment. Lord Krishna, by contrast, is always anxious for our ultimate well-being. Although we have turned away from Him, driven by our envy of His position as the Supreme enjoyer, He continues to provide all our necessities. The air, the sun, our inherent abilities, and countless other gifts are all clear indications of His good will.
And Krishna’s greatest expression of friendship is His association, which He generously offers us through the revealed scriptures, saints, and spiritual masters, who regularly appear throughout the millenniums to invite us back to the spiritual world. The attractive, dynamic qualities of the soul tend to remain static in the material world because of the soul’s marriage with inert matter. As a result, the thrill of material relationships diminishes quickly. We grow bored seeing the same faces day in and day out. But Krishna is never boring, for His transcendental qualities are ever-fresh and ever-expanding. In the Vedas it is stated that even if the scientists could count all the grains of sand on a beach or all the atoms in the universe, they could never estimate even one drop of God’s blissful, all-attractive features.
The ‘Nectar of Devotion’ offers an illuminating summary of Lord Krishna’s spiritual qualities. By studying this great work in a spirit of devotion, we can enhance our appreciation for the Lord and thus develop the desire to know His sublime friendship. For example, the ‘Nectar of Devotion’ explains that no one is more appreciative than Lord Krishna, as shown in His dealings with His friends. Once, a poor devotee named Sudama offered Krishna a few grains of rice. Because he was penniless, he was unable to present the Lord with a valuable gift, as was his desire, but because his humble offering was saturated with love, Krishna eagerly accepted it and ate it with great delight. Out of deep gratitude, Krishna reciprocated with Sudama by giving him more opulence than can be imagined even by the wealthiest person in this world, and in the end he was granted entrance into Krishna’s spiritual abode.
Hearing of Krishna’s limitless capacity for appreciating and reciprocating the love of His devotees can inspire us to rekindle our friendship with Him. Lord Krishna is also the most faithful and considerate friend. He will never abandon us or allow us to feel neglected. Although His propensity to love is so great that He desires to interact with countless living beings simultaneously, He can do so without neglecting even one of them. When He appeared on this earth, He expanded Himself, by His supreme mystic power, into many personal forms, giving spiritual bliss to each one of His sixteen thousand queens, each of whom thought that Krishna was residing with her alone. Another reason that God’s friendship is the most desirable relationship is that it is eternal. In the material world we may sometimes form a relationship with another person that seems to be of sterling quality, but even that soon fades like a dream.
At the time of death, the karma of both friends carries them far apart from one another, as strands of seaweed, meeting momentarily on the crest of a wave, are separated forever when the wave breaks to shore. Happily, this is not the case if we befriend Krishna. The exchange between God and the living entity is never checked. Even if one begins the attempt to realize Krishna in this life and is not completely successful in his spiritual development, he begins in his next life from where he left off, until at last he achieves perfection.
Since we are all Krishna’s servants, it is important for us to remember that any attempt to approach Him must be attended by a serving attitude. Just as the Lord, out of His kindness, is always busy making arrangements for His devotees’ happiness, we must also try to act for His pleasure. This is the beginning of real love. And there is no loss for us if we agree to cultivate our devotional sentiments. In fact, serving Krishna is so pleasurable that Krishna Himself appeared in the form of a devotee, as Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu, to taste this pleasure and to show us, by practical example, that there is no greater aspiration for the living being than to achieve Lord Krishna’s friendship.
The Krishna consciousness movement is in the direct line descending from Lord Caitanya. It was established by Srila Prabhupada to assist those seriously interested in reviving their dormant love for God. Its doors are open to everyone.
Persons who aspire for perfect friendship will certainly embrace this rare and wonderful opportunity to find lasting spiritual happiness in the eternal company of Lord Krishna, the perfect friend.