The Krishna consciousness movement was named the International Society for Krishna Consciousness by Srila Prabhupada when he was inspired by one phrase of Srila Rupa Gosvami, Krishna bhavana bhavita “becoming conscious of Krishna.” Remaining conscious of Krishna is the most basic principle of the Krishna consciousness movement. What does that mean exactly?

A Day with Krishna

Becoming Conscious of Krsna

Once I was hearing a discourse by a senior devotee, Damodara Pandita Dasa. In his talk he described a scenario. “Imagine,” he said, “that Krishna came in your dream and told you that He is coming for lunch at your home. What will you do? You will get up early in the morning thinking of Krishna. While brushing your teeth or taking bath, you will be meditating that you have to cleanse this body properly because you are going to come in contact with Krishna. On that day whether you are putting on tilaka, wearing your clothes, or cleaning your house, you will be doing it for the pleasure of Krishna. As you will go to buy the vegetables, you will be in the mood to get the best for Krishna. As you cut those vegetables and cook them, you will be meditating that Lord Krishna is going to accept this bhoga. What to speak of the moment when Krishna will actually come? You will consciously offer him incense, dhoop, chamara and bhoga. And after Krishna leaves, you will accept the remnants with tears as His mahaprasada. At the end of the day as you retire, you will be thinking about the sweet Lord. In this way, your whole day will be Krishna conscious.”

A Day Without Krishna

But actually most of us don’t pass this litmus test of Krishna consciousness. Actually Krishna does reside in our home in the form of the Deity or His picture on our altar. He does visit our home when we call Him through the chanting of the holy name. But we become indifferent. We do bathe daily but that is just a part of our daily routine. We do buy vegetables and cook, but the vegetables we buy are the ones which we like and we cook it for our savoring. Of course, we offer them to Krishna and purify that food. But cooking only for Krishna’s pleasure is different from cooking for our pleasure and offering it to Lord Krishna for its purification. We do make progress even by unconscious acts like accepting mahaprasada  or even by less attentive chanting. But then, the progress will be slow with such mechanical devotional service.

Adding Consciousness to Your Activities

By adding consciousness to our activities, we will make progress even by the simple activity of bathing, if we are cleansing the body given by Krishna for His pleasure. A simple activity of buying and cutting vegetables can bring us enormous devotional credits if we do it for Krishna. This is the beauty of Krishna consciousness. Even a simple housewife can progress on the devotional path just by cooking for Krishna. But a pujari in the temple may not progress if he is not conscious of Krishna.

Working for Krishna

This principle is important for householders. Arjuna is the example. He was working for Krishna under His directions. Similarly a householder devotee must seek guidance from Bhagavad Gita and senior renounced devotees. He should worship the Lord at home. The presence of the Lord converts the home into a temple. Thus a devotee becomes the temple president and has to shoulder the responsibility of running this small temple. He works so that all the expenses of this temple home are taken care of. Simultaneously he also supports the other three asramas: brahmachari, vanaprastha, and sannyasa. If he keeps this mood then his activities done for earning money will also help him advance spiritually.

Krishna Consciousness for Everyone

It’s not that only those engaged in menial service have to be in the right frame of mind, but even a stalwart preacher has to remain conscious that he is speaking as a service to the Supreme Lord and that he is able to speak such nice philosophy by Krishna’s mercy. So whether one is serving Deities in the temple or serving at the temple shoe stall, the mood is to consciously serve Krishna and His dear devotees. So remaining conscious that this article has been possible only by the mercy of Krishna, I sign off.

Yugavatara Dasa is an associate professor in Anatomy in a medical college in Mumbai. He is a regular contributor to BTG.