The test of success in bhakti is taste for bhakti
When we practice bhakti, we may wonder, “How do I know if I am progressing and succeeding?”
On the spiritual journey, our destination is Krishna, or more specifically, love for Krishna. And if we are enriched with love for him, we will naturally long to practice the activities that connect us with him. Bhakti-yoga is the time-honored process that offers us a rich gamut of practices to connect with him. Therefore, by our practice of bhakti and our progress towards Krishna, our taste for bhakti activities should increase and our desire for connecting with Krishna should increase. Pertinently, the Bhagavad-gita (12.09) asserts that the disciplined practice of conscientious bhakti strengthens our desire for Krishna.
When we ensure that our criteria for success is right, we won’t get sidetracked if we don’t happen to get external results such as prosperity or popularity. Many people practice religion to gain more wealth and others, to gain more followers. Those of us who are earnest seekers may not start our spiritual practices with that intention – we may genuinely want to grow in our love for Krishna But over time, as we keep practicing bhakti in the material world where our consciousness is prone to be contaminated by materialism, we too may get distracted by worldly considerations. Thus, we may start subtly craving for prosperity or popularity and comparing ourselves with others in terms of who gets more prosperity or popularity.
What if we get these worldly gifts without craving for them? We can use them as resources for increasing our service to Krishna. But to use them, we need to be sufficiently attached to Krishna to avoid getting attached to them.
That’s where the reminder that the test of bhakti is taste for bhakti will keep us safe and strong in our spiritual journey.
Think it over:
- What should be happening if we are growing spiritually?
- What external results do many people crave from bhakti?
- How may we get distracted in bhakti? How can we protect ourselves?
12.09 My dear Arjuna, O winner of wealth, if you cannot ﬁx your mind upon Me without deviation, then follow the regulative principles of bhakti-yoga. In this way develop a desire to attain Me.
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