Suppose a talented, dedicated devotee encounters failure repeatedly – how to respond?
Transcribed by: Keshavgopal Das
Question: Suppose a talented, dedicated devotee encounters failure repeatedly – how to respond? Is this because of karma?
The interaction between bhakti and karma is very complex. In principle, we understand that when we surrender to Krishna, then Krishna takes away our karma. That also depends on how much are we surrendering to Krishna. Krishna can let some karma come back to us to reorient us in case we are getting distracted. Our focus should be on having a vision that is devotional. For example, if some advanced devotee is sick and we start thinking that since the devotee has a terrible disease then this must be because of some sinful activity of the devotee, then such an attitude is not devotional. A devotional attitude in such circumstances would be that we should see that as an opportunity to serve the diseased devotee.
When Draupadi was dishonored, nobody tells her that it was because of your karma.
Our vision should always be such that enables us to make a contribution.
If there is something inconceivable happening between devotee and Krishna, our focus should be on how can I serve this devotee. The devotee should also have a favorable attitude. He should think in a way that helps him go closer to Krishna. For example, he may think that Krishna is making some special arrangement in life which will inspire me to take shelter of Krishna. The whole purpose of study of bhakti philosophy is to translate events of our life into something that becomes favorable to our bhakti.
Take example of Parikshita Maharaja. From point of view of justice, it is outrageous to sentence someone to death for just putting a snake around someone. However, Parikshita Maharaja took that opportunity to wholeheartedly devote to Krishna. Pingala, the prostitute, did not get a customer. She thought, that I might have done some good karma in my past life, hence Krishna is becoming pleased with me. That is why I am feeling frustration towards my profession today and from that frustration detachment is coming.
Our inner remembrance of Krishna does not depend on our material circumstances. However, we are not yet very strongly connected with Krishna. Hence our capacity to remember Krishna does depend on our material circumstances. For example, for a speaker like me, I can study shastra and remember Krishna, but if my throat gets some infection, I will not be able to speak. In such circumstances, the normal way of remembering Krishna is not available and thus it makes difficult for me to remember him.
Whatever happens at the material level that is a product of transformation of material nature. Whether we get pleasure or pain through that, it depends on our attachment. Our desire to enjoy, to control in that kshetra.
We all go through different phases in our lives. Sometimes whatever we touch turns into gold. Other times when we touch gold, it turns into stone.
Karma comes like a leech in our lives. If we try to forcefully remove the leech while it is sucking blood, our skin may come out because the leech is attached to the skin very tightly. A leech sucking blood from our body is painful, but removing it forcefully is even worse. However, if we just tolerate till the leech has satisfied itself to its full capacity, we can just flick it off. Similarly, if we go through a bad phase of karma, we simply tolerate it with equanimity. We continue to keep serving Krishna, even if we do not get the results.
At difficult times, we need to take support from our relationships, especially those whom we can bank upon. Also, if we have a service for which we have a taste, then irrespective of whether we get result in that service or not we can move on.
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