Bhakti has to be a choice before it can become a calling

Some people say, “I will become devoted to God when I feel his call from within.”

The problem with such thinking is that we are unlikely to feel God’s call in a sustainable or transformational way. At present, we all are attached to material things. So, though we may feel a sweet devotional pull towards God, that feeling doesn’t usually last for long because our attachments soon resurface and drag our consciousness towards worldly objects.

Even if we somehow feel a stronger call in future, still our deep-rooted attachments won’t let that call stay – they will pull us forcefully, thereby weakening the pull of the divine call. So, we will still have to determinedly choose Krishna instead of worldly objects, even when we don’t feel called towards him. If we have to choose him then, why not choose him now?

True, great saints have often felt Krishna’s overwhelming call. But frequently they have practiced devotion earlier, in that life or a previous life. While outlining the various stages at which bhakti can be practiced (12.08-12), the Bhagavad-gita (12.08) states that feeling called towards Krishna, with mind and intelligence gravitating towards him, is the highest stage. If we are not at that state, the Gita doesn’t advocate waiting passively for some unpredictable call. Instead, it (12.09) recommends that we strive to practice bhakti at a lower level: choosing to conscientiously fix our mind on Krishna, even when we don’t feel naturally attracted to him. By thus diligently choosing Krishna instead of worldly objects, we will become purified and find absorption in him increasingly relishable. As our attraction to him increases, he will eventually become our spiritual calling, and we will become absorbed in him.

Thus, we need to do our choosing of Krishna before we can feel his calling.

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