Why You Should Become a Devotee of Krsna—and Why You Don’t
You should become a devotee of Krsna. Why?
1. When you become a devotee of Krsna, you enter into the association of great souls. These great souls, or pure devotees of God, are your best friends in this world. The Vedic literature describes them as “able to fulfill the desires of everyone and full of compassion for the fallen souls.” They have realized Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and can therefore help you tremendously in your realization of God. More so than the politician, educator, or sectarian religionist, a pure devotee is a true welfare worker—because he can work for your eternal benefit. While others claim, “God is dead,” the pure devotee reveals God to you by helping you revive your forgotten relationship with Him.
But where, you may ask, are such devotee-friends to be found today? Admittedly, it is rare to find a pure devotee of the Lord—a person totally free of all material desire, who wishes only to serve God. But we have the writings of such magnanimous persons. And in their writings, especially in the Vedic literature, the great devotees have explicated the science of pure love of God. The writings of these great friends of humanity are solace and guidance for one who aspires to God realization.
In the past there was Lord Krsna Himself, who spoke the Bhagavad-gita; Srila Vyasadeva, who compiled all the Vedas; and Lord Caitanya, who taught the chanting of Hare Krsna. More recently one of Lord Krsna’s pure devotees, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, taught the science of Krsna consciousness throughout the world. He founded the Krsna consciousness movement and translated and commented on’ many volumes of Vedic literature.
But you may feel that you cannot find anyone nowadays of Srila Prabhupada’s stature. Nevertheless, Srila Prabhupada’s followers in the International Society for Krishna Consciousness are also your true friends. Since devotees base their lives on devotional service to Krsna, they don’t try to exploit others for self-aggrandizement but try to help them reach life’s spiritual goal. This is the basis of true friendship and love: to help another person on his or her path back to Godhead.
2. Another reason you should become a devotee of Krsna is that devotion to Krsna is your original nature. You and I—all of us—are eternal servants of God. But you have temporarily forgotten this. According to the Vedas, you are eternal, full of bliss and knowledge, and by becoming a devotee of Krsna you will return to your normal, healthy condition. As a sick person should become well, as a crazy person should become sane, and as a lost person should find his home, so you, being an eternal servant of God, should become His devotee.
3. Becoming a devotee is the only thing that can save you at death. The great Vedic thinker Sankara advised his too-sophisticated contemporaries, “Worship Govinda [Krsna]! Worship Govinda! Worship Govinda! Your mental speculation won’t save you at the time of death.” The material world is full of dangers; death may come at any moment.. And after death, the Vedic literature explains, comes another birth in another body and then another lifetime of suffering. This is the law of karma. He who is so illusioned as to disregard death and not prepare for the next life is a fool. But becoming a devotee can save you at the time of death, because devotional service gives you the means to escape the reactions of karma.
4. At the time of death a pure devotee of the Lord leaves the material world and returns to Krsna in the spiritual world. As I have already stated, this is the soul’s original, though forgotten nature-to be an eternal servant of God. The only way to return to this position is by acting as a devotee of the Lord in this lifetime. Bhagavad-gita [18.55] says, “One can understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead as He is only by devotional service. And when one is in full consciousness of the Supreme Lord by such devotion, one can enter into the kingdom of God,”
Here are some of the standard reasons why you don’t become a devotee of Krsna:
1. You may be completely misinformed about what a devotee of Krsna is. Newspaper accounts sometimes depict Hare Krsna devotees as cultists. This is false. Or you may think that to be a devotee you have to give up your job and family, shave your head, and do all sorts of fanatical things. This is also false. In other words, you may really not know what a devotee is. If you remain misinformed, then you cannot become genuinely interested in devotional service.
2. You may think you don’t have time to serve God; you are too busy with other things you consider more important. The Vedic literature says that men who are too busy with mundane matters to inquire about devotional service and self-realization are completely wasting their lives.
3. You may be a victim of atheistic propaganda concerning the origin and nature of life. Those who say a human being is nothing more than a mass of chemicals and electrical impulses, that all life has evolved from matter, and that there is no eternal soul are killers of spiritual inquiry. If you believe this propaganda, you will find it difficult to start on the path of devotion.
Bhagavad-gita describes four kinds of persons who do not become devotees of Krsna. One is the mudha, or fool. Just as a donkey works hard all day simply to get some grass from its master, the foolish materialist takes up the burden of hard work just to maintain himself and his family, but he neglects spiritual life. Such a poor mudha, wrongly thinking he is his body, identifies himself as an American, a Russian, an Indian, and so on. And his only ken of happiness is in terms of his body.
Bhagavad-gita also describes the nara-dhama, “the lowest of men.” Although educated and cultured, ‘the naradhama has no spiritual sense and is thus unable to take up devotional service.
Another kind of person unable to serve Krsna is the mayayapahrta-jnana, one whose sophistication in philosophy or religion leads him to think that religion is a relative, cultural phenomenon, that Krsna is a myth, or that God can be found only in a particular religious sect. According to Vedic knowledge, however, one can know a true devotee of God not by whether he is nominally a Christian, Jew, Hindu, or whatever but by whether he has developed the symptoms of love for God. The chief of these are complete absence of mundane desires and an unimpeded flow of devotional service to God.
Bhagavad-gita describes a fourth category of persons who don’t become devotees: asuram bhavam asritah, the staunch atheists. Obviously, the avowed atheist will not become a devotee of God.
So the reasons you should become a devotee of Krsna are compelling, whereas the reasons you don’t are descriptions of misfortune. If you can admit that there is substantial validity to our claims for taking up devotional service, you should investigate further. Even if you are not prepared to change your life totally, you can add devotional service to it without any difficulty. Association with the great souls of the past is available through Srila Prabhupada’s translations of Bhagavad-gita, Srimad-Bhagavatam, and other books of Vedic literature. And the current followers of Lord Krsna, the members of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, are eager td share this knowledge and introduce you to such practices as chanting Hare Krsna and offering food to Krsna, which you can easily adopt. Why don’t you become a devotee of Krsna?—SDG