09.14 – See spiritual advancement in overall dedication not ritual specialization

by October 2, 2012

Many spiritual neophytes get enamored on seeing virtuoso cultural skills in spiritual teachers. They often consider as spiritually advanced individuals with the ability to fluently recite complex Sanskrit verses or melodiously sing devotional songs or elegantly perform worship rituals.

Why do they equate cultural ability with advanced spirituality? Because of their compartmentalized view of life, wherein spirituality is one compartment among many others like profession, family, sports, entertainment and hobbies. Just as they would esteem those cricketers who excel in hitting shots, they similarly esteem those spiritualists who excel at the cultural activities that they equate with spirituality – recitation of ritual mantras, for example.

Gita wisdom underscores that relegating spirituality to one life-compartment is misleading.  Why? Because the soul is not a compartment of our being; it is the essence of our being. Consequently, advanced spiritualists, who have realized their soul and have found eternal spiritual happiness in their love for Krishna, dedicate themselves to serving him through every moment and every compartment of their life.

The Bhagavad-gita (9.14) describes advanced spiritualists as satatam kirtayanto mam (they constantly glorify me), not madhuram kirtayanto mam (they melodiously glorify me). Of course, some advanced spiritualists can glorify Krishna constantly and melodiously, but their defining characteristic is not the melody but the constancy of their glorification. This verse thus cautions us against inferring the advancement of spiritualists from their ritual specialization, their ability to do specialized cultural activities expertly. Instead, it urges us to infer their spiritual advancement from their overall dedication, their round-the-clock commitment to love and serve Krishna in any and every way possible – including specialized cultural activities that are associated with spirituality.

If we wish to relish authentic spiritual happiness, we need to emulate the examples of those spiritualists who evince not ritual specialization but overall dedication.

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