San Jose, California — Saturday, February 21st

Daring to do

In Divine Guidance, somebody asks Srila Gurudeva why some of our senior devotees who served such exalted Vaishnava acharyas like Srila Prabhupad or/and Srila Guru Maharaj went astray or deviated from Krishna consciousness after the departure of their gurus.

Srila Gurudeva's reply (paraphrased here), is startlingly blunt:

We see that although these disciples served Srila Swami Maharaj [Prabhupad] or Srila Guru Maharaj, they did not actually get a real service connection. Although they served enthusiastically, they did not actually know what devotional service is. As long as Srila Guru Maharaj and Srila Swami Maharaj were here, their influence and potency concealed their disciples' shortcomings, but when they left, their influence and protection also withdrew, and the disciples' defects and deficiencies were exposed.

I remember how devastated I was, years ago, when I heard that one of our most senior devotees had gone away. He was a good friend of mine, always kind, helpful and considerate, and he had done so much service for ISKCON and our Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math. How could this happen?

I was helpless with despair. It was all so hopeless! If such a stalwart servitor of Srila Prabhupad, Srila Guru Maharaj, and Srila Gurudeva could go astray after more than three decades of service, then what hope could I possibly have? Why even bother trying to do any service at all, if this (failure) was the almost inevitable result?

But then I remembered this wonderful verse in Bhagavad Gita (6:40) where, after Arjuna expresses these same fears and doubts about the efficacy of Krishna consciousness, the Lord gives this extraordinary assurance to His friend:

partha naiveha namutra / vinasas tasya vidyate
na hi kalyana-krt kascid / durgatim tata gacchati

"O Arjuna, there is no loss for the unsuccessful practitioner of Krishna consciousness, either in this life or the next. A person who performs virtuous actions never suffers an inauspicious fate."

Srila Guru Maharaj often translated the second half of this verse as, "Sincerity is invincible," because as Krishna continues to assure Arjuna in the next five verses:

After going to heaven for many, many years, the unsuccessful practitioner takes birth in the home of honorable, prosperous persons given to pure practices, or is born into a family of devotees. Such a birth is rarely attained in this world.

After such a birth, the divine consciousness of his previous life is revived, and he again strives for success. Despite himself, he is impelled by the devotional practices of his previous life. Striving harder than before, his consciousness is cleansed of all worldly attachment in his sincere attempt to make further progress, and he ultimately attains the supreme destination.

Krishna gives us so much encouragement in Bhagavad Gita!

What kind of service connection do I have with Srila Gurudeva and Srila Guru Maharaj? I'm sure that it is a lot more tenuous than I would like to think. Certainly, it is nothing like that of some of the senior devotees who have gone away, so I have no expectations of becoming Krishna conscious in the short life that I have left.

It is so encouraging then, to have this assurance from Krishna Himself that even though we may not perfect our Krishna consciousness in this lifetime, if we persevere with courage and determination — if we try to be sincere and try to avoid vaisnava-aparadha — we must ultimately be successful.

To encourage is "to give active help or to raise confidence to the point where one dares to do what is difficult," and Krishna (and Srila Guru Maharaj) give us so much encouragement on every single page of Srimad Bhagavad Gita — The Hidden Treasure of the Sweet Absolute.

Tags: Don't Lose Hope!

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Layout by iMonk — February 21st, 2009.