Susukham Kartum Avyayam

Hare Krishna Prabhujis and Matajis,
Dandavats to all the devotees of the group. All glories to Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudev.

When describing the glories of devotional service in the 9th chapter of Gita, Krishna says that devotional service is "susukhaṁ kartum avyayam". It is joyfully performed. There are many spiritual paths such as Jnana Yoga, Dhyana Yoga, etc. which can lead one to perfection. However, these processes involve a lot of austerities and till the sādhaka achieves the goal, he may not feel bliss in his practice. But devotional service in itself is a blissful activity. So the practitioner does not have to wait for the attainment of moksha to enjoy the bliss. He enjoys it while practicing bhakti-yoga itself. There is an interesting story in our Puranas which explains this point very nicely.

Once Sage Narada was traveling around the globe and in one place he saw a great yogi meditating on Lord Vishnu. It was a terrible summer (hotter than Chennai) and he was meditating in the midst of fire. His body was thin because of the severe austerities he undertook. Narada was pleased by the dedication of the yogi and he stopped by and asked, Why are you doing this severe tapasya?". The yogi answered in one word, "mokshārtham" (meaning "For getting moksha").  Here moksha refers to returning to Vaikunta and serving the Lord eternally. Narada said, "I'm going to Vaikunta to meet Lord Vishnu. Shall I find out when you'll get it?". "OK", the yogi said.

Then Narada continued walking and he came across a sankirtan group and many devotees were dancing in ecstatic kirtan. Out of the group, one person was ecstatic and making others to dance. Narada approached him and asked, "Why are you singing and dancing like this?". He said in one word, "mokshārtham" and continued dancing. Narada asked, "Shall I find out from Vishnu when you'll get it?". "OK", the devotee answered.

Then Narada approached Lord Vishnu and asked Him, "When the yogi and the chanter will reach you?". Lord Vishnu replied, "Tell the yogi that he'll come to Me in 7 lifetimes and tell the devotee that he'll come to Me in 70 lifetimes". Narada returned to the yogi and told him, "You'll reach Vishnu in 7 lifetimes". The yogi was shocked and exclaimed, "O my God, 7 lifetimes!? Till then I've to undergo these severe austerities and suffer!" and then he fainted. Narada cooled him and explained to him that 7 lives is nothing compared to millions of lives in ignorance. So please continue your penances. Then he met the devotee and told him, "You'll reach Vishnu in 70 lives.". The devotee said, "No problem 70 or 700 lives, it doesn't matter for me because I'm very happy chanting Lord Vishnu's names and whenever I'm hungry, I get wonderful prasadam and then I continue my kirtan. So I'm ready to do this for any number of lifetimes".

This is the special feature of Bhagavata dharma and its superiority over other processes. Even if a faithless person takes to this process, the bliss he gets will push him further on this path, whereas processes like jnana and meditation requires tremendous faith as the process is tougher and unless one is strongly convinced about the bliss he'll get in brahman, he cannot continue in the path. So some acharyas glorify Bhagavata dharma by saying that "Bhakti is applicable even for faithless people".

There is an interesting incident in the life of Srila Prabhupada in this regard. Once a press reporter asked him, "Swamiji, what if one day it is proved that life comes from matter, God doesn't exist and this world is the only reality? What will be your reaction and your disciple's reaction? Because you people are giving up all the enjoyment in this world and doing this devotion. When your philosophy is proved wrong, won't you feel cheated and frustrated?"

Prabhupada said, "No problem. Even if its proved that Krishna doesn't exist, soul doesn't exist, Vaikunta doesn't exist, we'll still continue to follow this process as we're very blissful even in this world doing this. We're free from all sinful habits and hence we are very relaxed and chanting and feasting gives us great pleasure. So we're definitely enjoying life in every possible way than the others. So even if our philosophy is proved wrong, this process gives us great bliss and can never be disproved."

And then Prabhupada put the question back to the reporter, "What if in the end of your life it is proved that Krishna does exist and this process of Krishna consciousness is the best way to attain perfection?" The reporter was stunned into silence.

Your servant,
L.Harikumar
Chennai.