Go to the temple to take darshan, not to give darshan

Some celebrities such as politicians or movie stars often visit temples on special holy days such as Janmashtami. If they see such visits merely as good photo-ops for bolstering their popularity, then they are going to temples not to take darshan of Krishna, but to give their darshan to others, to show others that they are so virtuous as to visit temples.

In a society where religion is an integral part of life, being seen as religious – not excessively religious, but occasionally religious – is often a prestige-booster. The Bhagavad-gita (16.15) talks about how the ungodly blatantly use religious activities such as giving charity or performing sacrifice to portray an image of being pious, good people.

As practicing devotees, we too may do our devotional practices diligently while others see us. But when alone, we may indulge in the very things that we religiously avoid in public. Of course, some conditionings need time to be purified. Still, for becoming purified, we need to fix our consciousness on Krishna, both in others’ presence and in their absence. If we are too image-centered while practicing bhakti, then we can’t connect with Krishna, thereby remaining unpurified.

When we make Krishna the primary purpose of our devotional activities, then the presence of others can boost that divine purpose. Devotional association can reorient us towards Krishna: firstly, by the desire to be accepted and respected in that social circle; and secondly, by the inspiration to become absorbed in Krishna that comes by associating with devotees who are thus absorbed. Either way, if we focus on Krishna and strive sincerely to connect with him in public and in private, we will discover a whole new world of inner enrichment opening up for us. And gradually, we will become increasingly blissful through our ever-deepening absorption in Krishna.

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Those who commit to nothing are distracted by everything
Those who obsess over what is wrong overlook what is right
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