from Back To Godhead Magazine #27-04, 1993
by Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami
Srila Prabhupada often instructed us on the importance of cultivating eagerness, or the strong desire to attain Krishna. He said we should desire and hanker after the supreme kingdom if we really want to achieve it. Once, a young man asked him what it was like to desire Krishna, and Srila Prabhupada replied, “What do you feel when you see a pretty girl walking down the street?” The boy was surprised. “You mean it’s like that?” As aspiring transcendentalists, we are not interested in pretty girls or any material thing, but that quality of spontaneous desire, that eagerness—that is what we want to feel, but in relation to Krishna.
I have recently been reading some verses in Srimad- Bhagavatam about eagerness for becoming Krishna conscious and how Krishna works with us to try to increase our eagerness. In the First Canto of the Srimad-Bhagavatam the great sage Narada tells his disciple Vyasadeva how in his (Narada’s) previous life he got the association of some Vaishnavas, pure devotees of the Lord, who stayed for several months at the inn where his mother was engaged as a maidservant. Narada tells how as a young boy of only five years, he brought those devotees prasadam, sanctified food which had been offered first to the Supreme Lord. With the permission of those devotees he took the remnants of the food, and he also heard from them about the attractive activities of Lord Krishna. He relates how, as he did these things, all his sinful activities went away and his real spiritual self was revealed to him.
Vyasadeva was interested to hear about this and wanted to hear more. When the spiritual master talks about his life, the disciple is always interested to hear. I remember how Srila Prabhupada sometimes told us things about his own life, and even if we had heard them before, we were always eager to hear Prabhupada tell these stories again. So it was in that mood that Vyasadeva, hearing about Sri Narada’s birth and activities, wanted to hear more.
In the association of pure devotees, Narada went on, his eagerness for Krishna consciousness developed, but after they departed, leaving him in the care of his affectionate mother, this eagerness diminished. So when his mother suddenly died, bitten by a snake, he took this as special mercy of the Lord. Prabhupada writes, “Confidential devotees of the Lord see in every step a benedictory direction of the Lord. What is considered to be an odd or difficult moment in the mundane sense is accepted as special mercy of the Lord.” Now Narada, although still a boy of only five years, could depend fully on all the hearing and chanting he had done with the sages.
Narada took up the life of a traveling mendicant, and soon he had an amazing experience. He tells Vyasa, “As soon as I began to meditate upon the lotus feet of the Personality of Godhead with my mind transformed in transcendental love, tears rolled down my eyes, and without delay the Personality of Godhead Sri Krishna appeared on the lotus of my heart. The transcendental form of the Lord, as it is, satisfies the mind’s desire and at once erases all mental incongruities. Upon losing that form, I suddenly got up, being perturbed, as is usual when one loses something which is desirable.”
So it seems that Narada Muni glimpsed the Lord, but then the Lord went away and it was a great shock for him. Srila Prabhupada describes this in such an appealing way. “For the whole duration of our lives we go see different forms in the material world, but none of them is just apt to satisfy the mind, nor can any one of them vanish all perturbance of the mind. These are the special features of the transcendental form of the Lord, and one who has once seen that form is not satisfied with anything else; no form in the material world can any longer satisfy the seer.”
Krishna Himself explained to Narada the reason for His sudden disappearance. “O virtuous one, you have only once seen My person, and this is just to increase your desire for Me, because the more you hanker for Me, the more you will be freed from all material desires.” Elsewhere in the scriptures it is stated that eagerness is the price one has to pay to achieve success in Krishna consciousness. We shouldn’t think that Krishna is playing a cruel trick on His devotee, some sort of hide-and-seek game: “You saw Me, but I am not going to let you see me again, for no reason.” He wants to increase the devotee’s eagerness to see Him again, as it is this eagerness that will bring the devotee to the perfectional stage, where he will be qualified to go back to Godhead.
I am not Narada, but I am trying to think how this has some relevance for me. In commenting on this verse, Prabhupada says we should go on serving Krishna and this will increase our hankering. “The more a person is engaged in the transcendental loving service of the Lord, the more he acquires a hankering for it. That is the nature of godly service. Material service has satiation, whereas spiritual service of the Lord has neither satiation nor end.… By intense service to the Lord, one can experience the presence of the Lord transcendentally. Therefore, seeing the Lord means being engaged in His service because His service and His person are identical.”
If we are performing devotional service but not feeling an increase in eagerness, that means we are doing something wrong. We should inquire from the spiritual master, from the scriptures, from other devotees, and from within our own hearts, “Why isn’t my hankering for Krishna increasing?” If instead we are feeling, “This is enough, I have found a good niche in Krishna consciousness,” that is not a good sign. That is complacency. To actually attain the audience of Krishna, to get His association, we must go on increasing our desire and eagerness to see and serve Him.
As natural as it is for a young man to be attracted to a pretty girl, as eager as a young girl is to be with that young man, that is how natural it is for the pure soul to be attracted to Krishna. We should aspire to have such eagerness to attain Krishna consciousness. If Krishna sees we are sincere and eager to serve Him and our spiritual master, then He will direct us how and whereto do it. Krishna can deal with us in so many ways, perhaps by first giving us the mercy of this eagerness, or by first seeing our sincere activities in devotional service and then giving us mercy. There is no set law, but if we do feel this increased hankering, we should mostly think that we haven’t really done anything, that it is simply due to the mercy of the Lord.
If we want the story of our devotional service to be a success story, we should deliberate individually on our own lives and see what we can do to increase our eagerness to attain Krishna. Seeing our efforts, the Lord will certainly help us, just as He helped Sri Narada. And as followers of Prabhupada, if we especially want to experience the special atmosphere of eternal Vrindavana, where Krishna constantly enacts His enchanting pastimes, we must simply, we must simply become eager for that transcendental goal.