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Gratitude for God’s Gifts

Saturday, 30 November 2019 / Published in Articles / 5,862 views

By Giriraj Swami

If we are at all aware of how dependent we are on God—for the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, and our very ability to eat and drink and breathe, to think and feel and will, and to walk, talk, and sense—we will feel grateful and want to reciprocate God’s kindness. We will want to do something for He (or She or They) who has done, and continues to do, so much for us.

We often take things for granted until we lose them. I use my right hand to chant on meditation beads, and one morning I found that I had severe arthritic pain in my hand and could no longer use it for chanting. I had taken the use of my hand for granted, but when I lost its use, I resolved to never take it for granted again and to always use it in the best way in God’s service.

How can we attempt to return some of God’s favor, some of God’s care—and love—for us? My spiritual master, Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, gave one answer:

“Whatever you have got by pious or impious activities, you cannot change. But you can change your position, by Krishna consciousness. That you can change. Other things you cannot change. If you are white, you cannot become black, or if you are black, you cannot become white. That is not possible. But you can become a first-class Krishna conscious person. Whether you are black or white, it doesn’t matter. This is Krishna consciousness. Therefore our endeavor should be how to become Krishna conscious. Other things we cannot change. This is not possible.

tasyaiva hetoh prayateta kovido
na labhyate yad bhramatam upary adhah
tal labhyate duhkhavad anyatah sukham
kalena sarvatra gabhira-ramhasa

[Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.5.18]

Kalena, by time, you will get whatever you are destined. Don’t bother about so-called economic development. So far as food is concerned, Krishna is supplying. Eko bahunam yo vidadhati kaman. He is supplying even cats and dogs and ants. Why not you? There is no need of bothering Krishna, ‘God, give us our daily bread.’ He will give you. Don’t bother. Try to become very faithful servant of God. ‘Oh, God has given me so many things. So let me give my energy to serve Krishna.’ This is required. This is Krishna consciousness. ‘I have taken so much, life after life, from Krishna. Now let me dedicate this life to Krishna.’ This is Krishna consciousness. ‘I will not let this life go uselessly like cats and dogs. Let me utilize it for Krishna consciousness.’”

I pray that I will dedicate this life and everything I have—everything God has given me—fully in God’s service, following His pure devotees.

manasa, deho, geho, yo kichu mora
arpilun tuya pade, nanda-kisora

“Mind, body, and home, whatever may be mine, I surrender at Your lotus feet, O youthful son of Nanda [Krishna]!” (Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Saranagati)

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3 Responses to “Gratitude for God’s Gifts”

  1. Hare Krsna dasi says :

    One plant which has much capability for relieving arthritis and rheumatism is the stinging nettle. It is said that after a long march, Roman soldiers used to grab some stalks of stinging nettles and beat their legs. After the initial stinging sensation, all the aches of their muscles went away.

    My son’s biology teacher told me that in every country where they grow, stinging nettles are used to relieve arthritis and rheumatism. Nettle tea, nettle soup or freeze dried nettles are also a natural antihistamine, and are an effective treatment for hay fever and similar allergies.

    I used to regard nettles as a very nasty weed in my garden, because they would sting me when I was trying to cultivate the flowers and vegetables. To my surprise, I discovered they are a valuable therapeutic and nutritious herb.

    Maharaja makes a nice resolution, “I pray that I will dedicate everything that God has given me–fully in God’s service, following His pure devotees.” To that we can all agree. And let us recognize the wonder of all the things that Krsna has sent to help us in our service, even if they at first appear to our untrained eyes as nasty weeds. Let us rather see their value and use in our service to the Lord. “I am the healing herb,” states Krsna in Bhagavad-gita 9.16. So let us glorify His miraculous gifts!

  2. pustakrishna says :

    We can be reminded that pleasing Krishna is our life and soul as vaishnavas. We can know that if Krishna’s representatives are pleased (yasya prasadad bhagavat prasado…) then Krishna will be pleased. We know what pleases Krishna also, since He tells us: bhoktaram yajna tapasam…Krishna is pleased by our sacrifices on His behalf.

    Materially speaking, individuals want to gratify their senses in order to achieve what they consider to be happiness. That pleasure which in the beginning may be sweet-appearing, will become bitter in the end. We want to be like the Cakora-bird, drinking water only from the clouds, not that which has fallen to the earth. Similarly, we want pleasure to come from Krishna, otherwise it is not valuable to the vaishnava. We can wait patiently for Krishna’s mercy, and if He withholds it, we remember that Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu hints at the mood of devotion…even if He is not present before me, He is still my worshipable Lord unconditionally.

    Krishna will not disappoint us, ever. Srila Prabhupad told me this in Bombay in March of 1971. I have believed it, and Sri Krishna’s Guardianship has always been there. You can never be counted out if you have faith and dependence awakened in Krishna.

    Gratitude will be necessary in the transcendental realm as well. And, we appreciate the devotion of others just as Uddhava honored the gopis of Vrindaban by wanting to become a blade of grass to be blessed by the dust of their lotus feet as they walked through the forests of Vrindaban.

    Ultimately, Krishna’s plan and arrangement is to bring this mortal existence to an end. We are reminded of story that Srila Prabhupad would tell of the wealthy man trying to bargain for more time by buying it in some way or another. That is, of course, not possible. So, gratitude must extend again and again, grateful that Krishna is giving His shelter and guardianship to us in all conditions of life. When things may appear smooth, or when things are desperate (Queen Kunti’s prayers), then in all conditions, we can cultivate gratitude for Krishna’s mercy.

    The sweet simplicity of Sripad Giriraj Maharaj’s words can serve as an inspiration to us all.

    Pusta Krishna das

  3. pustakrishna says :

    One additional point. No criticism intended, but rather an opportunity to expand one point. In the first paragraph of His Grace’s writing, Sripad Giriraj Maharaj, who knows everything as a dedicated vaishnava, appears to be attempting to be inclusive by accepting references to God as He, She or They. I recall that Srila Prabhupad also would occasionally be challenged that ‘how do you know God is He?” Of course, so many explanations, Srila Prabhupad has given. Aham bija prada pita…Krishna is the seed giving Father, ie material nature is the Mother, and Krishna places the jiva souls into this world (mamaivamso jiva loke). Purusha takes on many varied meanings, Male/Enjoyer, etc.

    And, we also hear that everything is prakrita (para-superior, apara-inferior), or dependent upon the Purusha. It may sometimes seem ‘politically incorrect’ to say that the male is predominator and female is predominated, from a material pespective. We know in the ultimate material sense that all is under the tight grip of Maya, Durga, within this world. Maya is ultimately simply a potency of the Supreme Lord…mama maya duratyaya. So, it is helpful for us to think in terms of everything being prakriti or dependent upon the Purusha, and that includes both current males and females. These may seem to be external designations and they are, but the para-prakriti, which is the potency that the jiva souls are a part of, is also dependent upon Sri Krishna.

    Bottom line, we need to be equipped to explain these things to others so that they are properly attracted to Krishna with a feeling of dependency…and gratitude for such perpetual and beautiful Guardianship.

    Pusta Krishna das

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