13.08 – Accept but don’t expect respect
We may sometimes wonder, “How can I stay humble amidst the devotional culture of respectfulness? If nobody would notice me, it would be easier to be humble. But when others address me with respectful honorifics like ‘Prabhu’ and ‘Mataji’, offer obesiances and sometimes even glorify me, how can I possibly stay humble?”
By accepting but not expecting respect, answers Gita wisdom. This attitude is indicated in the precise word for humility used by the Bhagavad-gita (13.8: amaanitvam), which Srila Prabhupada glosses as not being anxious to have the satisfaction of being honored by others.
To free us from being respect-anxious, Krishna consciousness helps us see all living beings as the beloved children of Krishna. We see all devotees as his especially beloved children, for they have voluntarily chosen to live according to his will. This vision underlies the devotional culture of respectfulness.
With this vision in mind, when others offer us respect, we can accept it with the understanding that they are seeing us as connected with Krishna and so are offering respects to us and through us to Krishna. This understanding will reinforce our internal Krishna-connection and thereby enhance our humility – the greater our awareness of Krishna and his greatness, the deeper our awareness of our own smallness.
Moreover, just as others see our connection with Krishna, we can see their connection with him and offer them our respects, good wishes and prayers, as appropriate. This too will boost our devotional consciousness and consequently our humility. However, if we expect respect from others, then our expectation will make us respect-conscious and won’t allow us to be Krishna-conscious.
Thus by seeing the devotional culture of respectfulness as a facility to share Krishna consciousness, we can not only safeguard but even strengthen our humility.