MOST PEOPLE READING this magazine understand, at least theoretically, that Krsna is God and we are His servants. Many of us have learned to be pessimistic about achieving material happiness and optimistic about attaining spiritual happiness. We aspire to attain Krsna's lotus feet and serve Him personally. He whose names we have chanted, whose activities we have praised, whose form we have worshiped, to whom we have offered countless obeisances that all-attractive Sri Krsna, we know, can become ours if we develop pure love of God. If we are neophytes in spiritual life, we know that the first step is to dovetail our desires by offering our work to Krsna.
What we are looking for is a personal exchange with Krsna. We have heard that there is a direct relationship between our Krsna conscious practices and our receipt of Krsna's mercy. Therefore, we strive for sincerity, to act properly, to chant purely, to understand what it means to be a devotee and we do all this for years. We wait expectantly, hat in hand, for Krsna to appear.
But He doesn't. Krsna does not appear on demand but only by His own sweet will. No mechanical process no yoga, no rote prayers, no mantras can induce the Lord to appear.
Perhaps as the years pass we feel our patience wearing thin. When will we see Him? What does it actually take to induce Him to appear? And we feel the weight of life in this world. Our children are growing and need our attention, our careers are pulling at us, and while we wait for Krsna, we find it necessary to tend to these concerns. Our initial fervor wavers under the double demand of patience and a busy life. Sometimes we adjust our aspirations and learn to settle for a distant relationship with Krsna. The edge on our spiritual hankering softens. We stop taking Krsna so personally.
Fortunately, Krsna doesn't stop taking us personally. Rather, He feels obliged to help us come to the point of perfect love. Krsna takes the devotees under His care providing them with life experiences by which they can learn to evoke their love of God.
If Krsna takes us so personally, then we should reciprocate by following His lead. Hearing the Bhagavatam, chanting the holy name, and associating with pure devotees are essential activities for those who wish to hone their spiritual desires. Srila Prabhupada writes, "By sincere efforts to hear Srimad-Bhagavatam one realizes his constitutional relationship with the Lord in the transcendental humor … and by such self-realization one becomes situated at once in the transcendental service of the Lord. … By such actions the accumulated material lusts, etc., become cleansed by the personal endeavor of the Lord within the heart. The Lord is always within the heart of the living being, but He becomes manifest by one's devotional service." (Bhag. 2.8.5, Purport)
All devotees want to see Krsna. Although Krsna's appearance before a devotee may be reserved for topmost lovers of God, beginners who see the Lord acting in their lives can maintain the enthusiasm to penetrate into His presence. Hearing how great devotees succeeded in this attempt can also inspire us with confidence.
Krsna tells us in Bhagavad-gita, "As all surrender unto Me, I reward them accordingly. Everyone follows My path in all respects, O son of Prtha." (Bg. 4.11). Every soul has a personal relationship with Krsna, although not all souls recognize that fact. For those who do, Krsna personally comes forward to reciprocate. How Krsna reciprocates is not within our control. His response to our prayers will take a course perfectly designed to increase our love for Him. In a famous story of the devotee Narada Muni, Krsna appeared before him and then chose to disappear. Krsna wanted to increase Narada's hankering for Him. That hankering burns off the dross separating the devotees from their own pure love of God. Therefore, however Krsna chooses to respond, devotees are satisfied. They know they have the Lord's personal attention.
Krsna consciousness is not a mere exercise in spirituality; its practice is intensely relevant to our condition. We are meant to take Krsna personally. Our predicament in the material world is really a predicament; devotional service really is the only means of deliverance. The goal of love of Krsna is really within our reach. We can choose to see these truths from an academic distance, or we can live them in our lives subjectively and with the faith that Krsna is always present before us in one way or another.
Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami is the author of many books, including a six-volume biography of Srila Prabhupada.