I work on a laptop computer, which I take home with me every night. When I come into the office in the morning, I have to get down on my hands and knees to plug my power cable into an electrical outlet under my desk. While I was doing that one morning, I thought about the symbolism of my, in effect, bowing down to my desk each morning as I begin my service to Prabhupada and Krishna: I’m bowing to my yajna-sthana (“place of sacrifice”), where I try to do my part to push forward Lord Caitanya’s sankirtana movement.
The privilege of serving Krishna is a great gift received from the Lord and His representatives. Prabhupada traveled the world delivering that gift, which anyone with the desire for self-fulfillment can accept. Each one of us has the opportunity to take advantage of that gift by making our work an offering to the Lord.
Devotional service to Krishna comes in many forms, beginning with hearing about Him and chanting His holy names. While some of us might be in the position to spend our lives hearing and chanting, most of us have responsibilities that require us to work. Whatever our occupation may be (with a few exceptions), we can offer it to Krishna in a mood of service. If we think of our place of work as our yajna-sthana, Krishna will accept our work as an offering to Him. He says in the Bhagavad-gita (18.46) that by worshiping Him we can attain perfection by performing our own work (sva-karmana).
Srila Prabhupada writes in his purport to that verse: “Everyone should think that he is engaged in a particular type of occupation by Hrsikesa, the master of the senses. And by the result of the work in which one is engaged, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Sri Krishna, should be worshiped. If one thinks always in this way, in full Krishna consciousness, then, by the grace of the Lord, he becomes fully aware of everything. That is the perfection of life.”
Here Prabhupada says that one should worship the Lord by “the result” of one’s work. Some of us can directly serve the Lord through our occupations. For example, we might be able to offer our professional services to the Lord’s devotees without charge. But that might be hard if our work involves moving papers from our in-box to our out-box or moving a widget along an assembly line. But the “result” of our work also includes our income. So we can serve the Lord by giving financial support to the temple or to projects involved in spreading Krishna consciousness.
In serving Krishna, our frame of mind is important. It is best to offer our work to the Lord before we do it, to offer our money before we earn itrather than as an afterthought. Beginning our workday with the thought that our job is an offering to Krishna will purify our work and our hearts.
Prabhupada translates the word yajna, which means an offering to the Lord, as “sacrifice.” Any offering to Krishna is technically a yajna, but the English word sacrifice implies giving up something we’re attached to. It’s not easy to give up what we’ve worked hard to get. But if we do so, Krishna will be pleased, and His pleasure is our perfection.