Power of Association - Part 23

Hare Krishna Prabhujis and Matajis,
Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudeva.

In our last offering on the story of Mrgari, we learnt the potency of devotional service and it is the only process that can uproot the negative qualities such as envy and violence. Let us continue to meditate on further lessons from the story today.

23. Devotion Matters, not the Paraphernalias: As Narada muni acknowledged that the hunter has developed good qualities like non-violence and non-enviousness, the hunter received the two saints with great respect.

"The hunter then received the two great sages in the courtyard of his house. He spread out a straw mat for them to sit upon, and with great devotion he begged them to sit down. He then fetched water and washed the sages’ feet with great devotion. Then both husband and wife drank that water and sprinkled it on their heads."

Srila Prabhupada emphasizes in his purport, "When the spiritual master comes to the residence of his disciples, the disciples should follow in the footsteps of the former hunter. It doesn’t matter what one was before initiation. After initiation, one must learn the etiquette mentioned herein."

1. The first point we understand is that when Narada muni initiated the hunter, he only gave him basic instructions to worship Tulasi plant and chant Hare Krishna mahamantra and left the place. How did the hunter learn all these detailed etiquette's of receiving guests? One possibility is that due to his sincerity and eagerness, Krishna and his spiritual master would have arranged for other devotees & saints in the local villages to instruct him in basic etiquettes. The foundation was of course laid by Narada muni. Second and most importantly, due to his sincere desire for service, his spiritual master Narada muni as the chaitya guru, revealed all the knowledge from within his heart. 

This happens to many of us in our spiritual life too. The seed of bhakti is sown by the spiritual master in our hearts at the time of initiation. Initially we may not know how to recite the shlokas, we may not know how to study Prabhupada's books, we may not be aware of the rules and regulations to perform arati, dress the deities, cook bhoga so on and so forth. But after a few years of associating with devotees in Krishna consciousness, studying Srila Prabhupada's books and learning from spiritual masters, we naturally get trained in the various aspects of bhakti, develop a taste to follow them and even become experts. We may not even know ABCD of Bhagavad-gita initially, but within few years after initiation, by the mercy of Guru, we see devotees becoming expert speakers of Bhagavad-gita, Bhagavatam etc. Srila Prabhupada quotes the beautiful sloka from the Svetasvatara Upanishad 6.23 in this regard: 

yasya deve parā bhaktir / yathā deve tathā gurau
tasyaite kathitā hy arthāḥ / prakāśante mahātmanaḥ

Unto those great souls who have implicit faith in both the Lord and the spiritual master, all the imports of Vedic knowledge are automatically revealed.

As disciples we just need to have implicit faith in the spiritual master and strictly follow his instructions. Everything else will be automatically revealed in due course of time as Krishna Himself says - dadami buddhi yogam tam. This is the most important lesson we learn from the hunter devotee.

2. The hunter and his wife received the two saintly devotees and also washed their feet with great devotion. Devotion is the key point here. He had a humble cottage and had not prepared any paraphernalias to receive them as the two saints came unexpected, but by their great love, respect and devotion the hunter and his wife extremely pleased Narada muni and Parvata muni.

This reminds us of the story of two hosts who invited Krishna. When Krishna was visiting Mithila, both the opulent king Bahulashva and the poor Brahmana Srutadeva invited Krishna simultaneously with great love and eagerness. Krishna accepted both their invitations and went along with a few sages simultaneously to both their homes. At the kings residence, Krishna was received with extreme opulence, whereas the poor brahmana had nothing to receive them in his humble hut. Still he enthusiastically received Krishna and the sages, bowed down to them and danced with great joy waving his shawl. He offered them grass mat on the floor to be seated and then washed their feet with great pleasure. He then sprinkled the water upon himself, his house and family with great joy. He then offered beautiful prayers glorifying the Lord and the sages. Krishna in turn being pleased with him, gave very deep instructions in devotional service.

The essence in both these examples is the Lord and His pure devotees, do not care for opulent paraphernalias to welcome them. They simply go only to those places where they are welcomed with heart-felt devotion and accept the love and joy with which we receive them. It is not very difficult for them to identify it, since they are seated in our hearts as chaitya guru and Paramatma.

Krishna willing, we shall look at further lessons from the story of Mrgari in the next offering.

Yours in service of Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudeva,
Kalacakra Krsna das