Shree Kripaluji Maharaj further tells us what we have to do and what not to do in devotion. Narad ji told us about the sign of devotion:
Bhakti (devotion) means, "To become immensely eager to meet God". The one who practices devotion, constantly increases his longing to meet God. He will be desperate to see God and think, "When will I have His Divine vision? Here, Shree Kripaluji Maharaj tells us that we should make a desire to meet God, but if He does not grant His vision at present, then we should not get disappointed because a devotee cannot demand anything from God. He cannot say, "O Shyamsundar! You have to give me Your darshan (vision). A devotee can only request, "O God! It is my strong desire to have your Divine vision." If God does not give His vision, then the only reason is that our eagerness to meet Him has not reached that level.
There is an example of a poet who spoke about God. He said, "It is wrongly said by someone that no one can find you. The truth is that we do not search for you to the extent that is required to find you." It is not at all impossible to attain God. The problem is that we don't try our level best to attain Him. Hence, if God is not willing to give His vision at present, then it is not His fault. It is our mistake. We have to keep removing this shortcoming of ours and keep progressing on the spiritual path. We should not get disappointed. If a devotee gets disheartened, he says, "I have been shedding tears for so many years. God has not given His darshan till now. If He does not care for my wish and does not need me, I will also not care for Him. I do not need Him anymore." This kind of disappointment is very dangerous, as it leads to a devotee's spiritual downfall.
There is an incident about Madhusudan Saraswati, who was a great scholar and a follower of Shankaracharya. He used to visit various places to challenge others in scriptural debates and defeat them. One day, he met a Saint. The Saint said, "Madhusudan, when you win a scriptural debate, do you feel happy?" He replied, "Yes, I fell happy when I win." The Saint again asked, "And if by chance you lose, then do you feel sad?" "Yes, I feel unhappy when I lose," replied Madhusudan. The Saint replied, "You are still oscillating between the states of happiness and sadness. You have not reached the state of non-dualism. You talk about non-dualism, but you are still under the clutches of the dualities of sorrow and happiness. By performing such debates you are increasing your ego." Madhusudan was shocked at the Saint's statement and thought, "The Saint has pointed out my fault." He asked the Saint, "What should I do now? The Saint was an elevated soul. He directed Madhusudan to practice devotion to Shree Krishna. By doing so, the mind and intellect will get purified. Shankaracharya said:
śhuddhayati hi nāntarātmā kṛiṣhṇapadāmbhojabhaktimṛite
"It is impossible to purify the mind without devotion to Shree Krishna."
The Saint instructed Madhusudan to go to Vrindavan and while staying in Braj, practice devotion to Shree Krishna. He was told to practice sadhana (devotion) to have the Divine vision of Shree Krishna. Madhusudan went to Vrindavan and practiced sadhana continuously for three years, but Shree Krishna never gave His vision. Madhusudan got disappointed and said, "Everything is a waste." He stopped practicing devotion, gave up, and started to go back.
While returning, he saw another Saint sitting near a tree. The Saint said to Madhusudan, "You have lost hope so soon". Madhusudan replied, "How do you know?" The Saint said, "I know many things. Nevertheless what was your experience?" Madhusudan said, "I practiced so much sadhana, still God did not give darshan, and that is why I got disappointed." The Saint said, "Never mind. Before having the Divine vision of God, I will introduce you to a ghost. I will teach you how to practice devotion to meet a ghost. Will you practice it?" Madhusudan answered, "I did not have God's vision. Let's see, I will at least get the vision of a ghost".
He learnt to practice the new devotion, and did it for one year. But even the ghost did not give his vision. Again Madhusudan felt disheartened and decided to return back. Again, he saw that same Saint under the tree. The Saint asked Madhusudan, "What happened?" Madhusudan answered, "Maharaj, The sadhana (devotion) that you taught me was not fruitful. I did not see any ghost." The Saint called the ghost. He asked the ghost, "Why did you not grant your darshan to Madhusudan?" The ghost replied, "Maharaj, I wanted to come near him, but his aura was so strong that I began to burn". I could not go near him." Madhusudan thought, "There is some benefit in my sadhana (devotion). I don't realize it, but the sadhana that I am practicing is showing its effect." He became aware of the effects of devotion.
He again went and continuously practiced devotion for three years in the place where the Radha Govind Temple has been built. Finally, Shree Krishna gave His Divine vision to him. When Shree Krishna came, a strange thing happened. Madhusudan turned his face away and did not look at God. Shree Krishna asked him, "Why are you dejected?" Madhusudan asked, "What took you so long to give me Your vision?" Shree Krishna showed him a mountain of his sins. Shree Krishna said, "These are all your sanchit karm (deeds performed in the past lives). All these sins got burnt and your mind got completely purified. Then, I granted you My vision."
Therefore, it takes time for devotion to show its result. If we get disappointed, then we will not be able to reach our goal. We cannot demand God for His vision. He is not our slave that we demand and He fulfills our wish. A soul has only got the right to keep desiring for God's vision. And whether He will give His darshan or not? When will He give darshan? We should leave this decision to God.
In China, there are two religions namely Taoism and Confucianism. There is a well known saying in Tao religion: Even if the destination is hundred miles away, it begins by taking a single step. The construction of a huge temple begins by the laying of a single brick. In the same manner, we should not be worried about reaching the destination of attaining God; rather, we should keep taking one step after another and keep progressing in our spiritual journey. Have this firm faith that one day we will definitely meet God. We are a part of Him and He is our eternal father. It is not like that He does not care for us and thinks, "Let the soul suffer in the miseries of the world. He also cares and worries about us, "Since infinite lifetimes, my son has been under the clutches of Maya." He also thinks how to uplift the soul. So, have this strong belief that one day God will surely meet us.
Once, a disciple of Lord Chaitaniya Mahaprabhu ji asked him, "How much time is left to achieve my goal of God-realization?" Mahaprabhu ji said, "You have as many life times left as there are leaves on this tree." The man thought, "After so many lifetimes, will I actually be able to attain God?" He was happy and started jumping with joy. He started to dance and chant, Hari bol Hari bol. Mahaprabhu ji said, "No, No. You will attain God in this life itself." He became even happier, and started jumping with greater enthusiasm. Mahaprabhu ji saw his faith and devotion increasing. He said, "Well, You can have God's vision at this very moment."
Other devotees objected and said, "Maharaj ji, how could you change your own words and grant Him a vision?" Mahaprabhu ji said, "When I told him that one day God will definitely meet him, his bhakti (devotion) increased tremendously. When I told him that God will definitely meet him in this lifetime itself, his faith and devotion increased even more."
So, when bhakti increases, we can see that the faith that we will meet God also increases. There is a firm belief that He will definitely grant His vision to us one day. If not in this lifetime, He will come in some other life time. But, He will definitely grant us His vision. That is the sign of true devotion. By practicing this, we will progress in our daily sadhana. This is what Shree Maharajji explains in these two lines of the keertan.
.... To be Continued