Does devotion make us successful in everything we do?
Devotees sometimes think, “If I can’t do a particular service successfully, that’s because I am insincere; if I had been sufficiently sincere and pure, I would be empowered by Krishna to succeed at any service I may be called to do.”
Such thinking arises from a misunderstanding about the potency of bhakti. The bhakti tradition often glorifies the potency of devotion in empowering souls to transcend their conditioned limitations. The Bhagavad-gita (09.32) states that everyone, however lowborn they may be, can attain the highest spiritual perfection if they take shelter of Krishna.
Simultaneously, the same bhakti texts declare categorically that the finite soul never becomes infinite. God alone is God; none of us can ever become God — this implies practically that none of us can become perfect materially in everything we do. We all have limitations that may not go away even if we excel in devotion. The Mahabharata depicts how Arjuna’s son, Abhimanyu attained martyrdom while trying to fight single-handedly inside the Chakravyuha. His devotion to Arjuna and Krishna didn’t make up for his martial ignorance about how to break out of the Chakravyuha. Similarly, the Ramayana describes how the aged Jatayu became a martyr while trying in vain to stop Ravana from abducting Sita. His fearless devotion didn’t compensate for the slowness caused by his age.
What does this analysis mean for us practically? That we always remember we are parts of Krishna (15.07); we can only do our part as determined by our psychophysical nature, not any part that may be chosen by us or thrust upon us. Pertinently, the Gita twice urges us to serve according to our nature (03.35, 18.47).
Devotion elevates everyone to the spiritual perfection of attaining Krishna, not to the material perfection of becoming successful in everything they do for Krishna — devotion grants transcendence, not omnipotence.
Think it over:
- How does devotion grant spiritual perfection?
- Why doesn’t devotion equate with material perfection?
- Give two scriptural examples of how devotional intention doesn’t guarantee material success?
15.07:The living entities in this conditioned world are My eternal fragmental parts. Due to conditioned life, they are struggling very hard with the six senses, which include the mind.