Overcoming the tendencies that stunt our devotion


There is just enough space in the metros for people to stay, so there is no question of allotting some place to the trees. Man destroys forests and then creates a concrete jungle. Once this is constructed then he becomes nature conscious. He expresses his love for nature in the form of a bonsai tree. Bonsai is a Japanese technique of cultivating trees. 

The Japanese have already reduced the size of the car, the television, the computer by their modern technology. In their Mission Dwarfism, they have not even spared the trees. They have created these bonsai tress which are so small that you can keep a mango tree in your drawing room. These mango trees bear small tasteless mangoes.

In Sri Caitanya-caritamrta (Madhya lila 19.151-155), Lord Caitanya compares our devotion to a creeper as follows:

Out of many millions of wandering living entities, one who is very fortunate gets an opportunity to associate with a bona fide spiritual master by the grace of Krishna. By the mercy of both Krishna and the spiritual master, such a person receives the seed of the creeper of devotional service.

When a person receives the seed of devotional service, he should take care of it by becoming a gardener and sowing the seed in his heart. If he waters the seed gradually by the process of sravanam and kirtanam [hearing and chanting], the seed will begin to sprout.

As one waters the bhakti-lata-bija, the seed sprouts, and the creeper gradually grows to the point where it penetrates the walls of this universe and goes beyond the Viraja River, lying between the spiritual world and the material world. It attains brahma-loka, the Brahman effulgence, and penetrating through that stratum, it reaches the spiritual sky and the spiritual planet Goloka Vrindavana.

Being situated in one’s heart and being watered by sravana-kirtana, the bhakti creeper grows more and more. In this way it attains the shelter of the desire tree of the lotus feet of Krishna, who is eternally situated in the planet known as Goloka Vrindavana, in the topmost region of the spiritual sky.

The creeper greatly expands in the Goloka Vrindavana planet, and there it produces the fruit of love for Krishna. Although remaining in the material world, the gardener regularly sprinkles the creeper with the water of hearing and chanting.

These nectarean fruits can nourish the soul for the rest of eternity. But because of the bonsai tendency we tend to make bonsai of this devotional creeper and turn it into a display of our show-bottle spirituality. We build a huge home for ourselves and a small temple for Lord inside. We visit this temple while going out to work as we need blessings to succeed and then revisit it only the next day unless there is an emergency. We show some incense sticks or a lamp when we manage to find some time.

The bonsai of our small devotion tree also bears small fruits which are not only tasteless and fail to satisfy us, but rather increase our dissatisfaction. Lord Krishna describes these fruits in Bhagavad-gita (7.23): “Men of small intelligence worship the demigods, and their fruits are limited and temporary.”

We all have the seed of the devotional creeper in our heart, which can grow up to the heights of the spiritual world. But we chose to turn it into a bonsai. Actually we should nourish the devotional creeper by watering it with hearing and chanting. Whenever a small creeper grows we also need to put a fence. This fence denotes protecting the devotional creeper from association of non-devotees who crush our devotional creeper. With this fence and water of the holy name be sure that you will very soon be relishing the nectarine fruits of devotion.

Yugavatara Dasa is a lecturer in Anatomy in a medical college in Mumbai. He is a regular contributor to BTG.