Devotion’s simplicity is the refuge for the empty-handed, not the subterfuge for the close-fisted

The empty-handed refers to those who have very little material resources. So, when they come to Krishna, they come with next to nothing. Yet Krishna lovingly accommodates them, provided they offer whatever they can with devotion. The Bhagavad-gita (09.26) assures that he is satisfied even with such simple offerings of devotion as a fruit or a flower or a leaf or even a little water.

If due to unavoidable circumstances we can offer Krishna only such simple things, we can take heart that our deprived material state doesn’t have to translate into a deprived spiritual state. Thus the simplicity of devotion is the refuge for the empty-handed.

The close-fisted refers to the miserly. Even when they have a lot, they want to part with nothing or as little as possible. They try to weasel out of making substantial devotional offerings by rationalizing, “When Krishna is satisfied with simple things, why offer him anything more?”

Such rationalization violates the selflessness of love, wherein one longs to offer the best to the beloved. Real devotees are ready to sacrifice their own comforts for the Lord’s pleasure. The close-fisted, by trying to misuse the simplicity of devotion as a subterfuge for their stinginess, expose their mentality – they are concerned neither with Krishna’s satisfaction nor with their own growth in devotion; they are concerned only with preserving an image of piety while sacrificing as less as possible of their assets.

Tragically however, they end up losing everything, both materially and spiritually. Death strips them of everything materially and their close-fistedness blocks them from accumulating anything substantial spiritually.

In contrast, those who devotionally offer the best they can to Krishna become enriched with deeper devotion that grants them satisfaction in this life and the everlasting destination in the life hereafter.

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