Devotion is a state of the heart – a state of spontaneous inner attraction to Krishna. Yet that state manifests as outer action too, for the nature of love is to express itself by offering the best to the beloved.
The Gita presents the illustrious example of Arjuna. He dedicated a lifetime of diligent practice to his specialized skill of archery so that he could offer Krishna his service as a champion archer. Of course, he didn’t delay his devotion till he became a champion archer – he was always devoted to Krishna. But he didn’t misuse his devotion and the Lord’s willingness to be satisfied with simple things as a license for cutting corners in his archery practice. The Bhagavad-gita (01.24) points to Arjuna’s tireless diligence when it refers to him as Gudakesha, one who has conquered sleep and the lethargy it represents.
Arjuna didn’t misuse his devotion and the Lord’s willingness to be satisfied with simple things as a license for cutting corners in his archery practice.
The Mahabharata describes how Arjuna conquered lethargy and sleep. Once, while he was eating food at night in Drona’s martial academy, a sudden gust of wind extinguished the nearby lamp. As Arjuna continued to eat in the darkness, a stirring insight struck him: “If I don’t let darkness stop me from eating, why should I let it stop me from shooting?” Thereafter, he started practicing archery even in the night hours, persevering untiringly while the world slept. Over time, he became an archery virtuoso, capable of hitting invisible targets just by listening to the sounds coming from them.
When we similarly strive for excellence in our service to Krishna, that diligent determination to do our best will please him and he will bless us with deepened devotion. By expressing our devotion, or even our desire for devotion, through the best service we can offer, we will gradually relish Krishna’s reciprocation in the form of our heart’s enrichment with fulfilling devotion.
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