Some people say, “Devotion is an emotion we feel in our heart; there’s no need to exhibit it publicly.”
Exhibition is not needed, but expression is. In all fields of life, people are expected to express their emotion through action. For example, when the national anthem is recited, if some citizen doesn’t stand up in attention, that inaction often raises questions about their patriotism. And such questioning is understandable – as we can’t see into others’ hearts, we can know their emotions only through their appropriate actions.
Someone may object, “But some people may just make a show of emotions.”
Yes. Still, just because some people make a show doesn’t mean that no one should show their emotions.
Someone may argue, “Krishna knows what emotions lie in our heart and doesn’t need external expressions.”
Krishna may not need, but we do. Expression of emotion enriches the emotion itself. Citizens often feel more patriotic on singing the national anthem reverently. And expression especially enriches emotion in bhakti because the actions of bhakti connect us with all-pure, omnipotent Krishna, thereby energizing our dormant devotion.
Consider kirtan, for example. When we start singing, we may not feel much devotion initially. But if we express that feeble devotion by singing as sincerely as we can, that singing connects us with Krishna, thus granting us a higher taste and strengthening our devotion.
Indeed, bhakti-yoga is a complete program for nurturing devotion through structured actions that express and enrich emotion. Pertinently, the Bhagavad-gita (09.13) describes the internal emotion and disposition of serious devotees: they are undistractedly focused on Krishna. Then (09.14) it describes their external actions: they bow down to him, constantly glorify him and determinedly strive to serve him.
Thus, through a symbiosis of action and emotion, bhakti-yoga propels us towards Krishna.
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