WHEN I TOLD my father I wanted to dedicate my activities to Krsna's pleasure, he tried to talk me out of it. One of his arguments: "How can you dedicate yourself to serving God? You don't even know what He wants you to do!"
Not such a bad argument. How do I know what Krsna wants from me? Krsna is so far above me, totally beyond the reach of my mind and senses. How could I know what makes Him happy? And without knowing what makes Krsna happy, how could I possibly connect my activities to His pleasure?
Rupa Gosvami has answered these questions in Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu with his definition of pure devotional service. (Srila Prabhupada gave it to us in Caitanya-caritamrta and further explained it in his Introduction to The Nectar of Devotion):
silanam bhaktir uttama
The important term, as far as my dad's question goes, is krsnanu-silanam. Check out the Sanskrit for a second krsna-anu-silanam. I'm sure you're familiar with the first word: krsna. The last word, silanam,means "activities of cultivation." How can I connect my activities to Krsna so they'll be part of cultivating Krsna consciousness? Look at the Sanskrit: krsna-silanam. Yes: anu! My activities connect to Krsna by the bridge of anu.
Great. What's anu? Anu means "following." Follows what? Krsna-anu: following Krsna. In other words, anu means connecting to Krsna by following the spiritual master and the disciplic succession from Krsna. The relationship between our activities and Krsna "is established by connecting oneself with the bona fide spiritual master, who is the direct representative of Krsna in disciplic succession." (NOD p. xxii)
I don't know what Krsna wants; Dad's right. But the guru does know exactly what Krsna wants me to do. My dad would have a hard time with that one. "Guru? He's just another human being like you. How does he know what Krsna wants you to do?"
Because his guru told him.
"How did his guru know?"
Because his guru told him. Etc., etc., etc. all the way back to Krsna.
Krsna knows exactly what He wants, and He doesn't keep it a secret. He tells various people who, in turn, tell others and thus pass the message down through time. That's how a tiny, limited soul like you or me can know what Krsna wants us to do.
An objection is probably ringing in my dad's ears. He might say, "This disciplic succession coming down from Krsna would never work in the real world. It would be like a game of 'telephone.' The message, passed from person to person, would be completely messed up by the time it gets to you."
Funny, don't you think Almighty God at least has the power to play a game of "telephone" without messing up?
God can create entire universes so complex that even the most sophisticated quantum physicist can't figure them out but God can't successfully play a preschool game of "telephone"?
He can, of course, and He does. How? Well, when Krsna "passes the message" to someone, He gives not one but three things: (1) the message itself, (2) the power to perfectly understand it, and (3) the power to perfectly pass it on.
What's more, if somehow or other the message gets mixed up, Krsna comes Himself or sends someone to make it clear again.
Krsna has the power to do whatever He likes. He likes us, so He calls us up on the telephone of disciplic succession, lets us know where He is, and tells us how to get there.
Vraja Kishor Dasa joined the Hare Krsna movement four years ago. He and his band, 108, are based at ISKCON's temple in Towaco, New Jersey.