Inspired by the "Nectar of Devotion" lecture series given by His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada from October 20-November 13, 1972 at the Radha-Damodara Temple in Vrndavana, India
All of these lectures are available for download at ISKCON Desire Tree.
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu says that bhakti is like an ocean of nectar, and just by tasting one drop, we can understand the essential qualities of the ocean.
Speaking this evening to his tender young disciples, Prabhupada adds to this:
"Just like by tasting one drop of sea water we can understand the taste of the whole ocean, similarly Caitanya Mahäprabhu described a small portion of Bhakti-rasämåta-sindhu. Bhakti rasa amåta. Bhakti, devotional service, there is a rasa, taste, and the taste is amåta, eternal."
Thus, our vision must become eternal, and what we desire, what we strive to achieve and to be, must also become eternal. The bhakti-marg is the only surefire, bonafide method to achieve this permanent grace. It is a path laid out to us by the acaryas and which is not bound by any material limitations we may put on it.
We must become ahaituki-the servants of Krsna that do not serve Him out of any material cause or motive, but out of a deep, dynamic, realized spiritual love. Prabhupada adds:
"This is real bhakti. Therefore this bhakti word is applicable only in relationship with God, or Kåñëa. In the material world, there cannot be any use of the word bhakti. Because here the so-called devotional service is motivated. So this bhakti word is monopolized by Kåñëa, and nobody else"
It is a monopoly that cannot be torn apart by cunning and keen anti-trust lawyers. It is a monopoly of sweetness on the very core of our hearts that is the very essence of our being and the very essence of reality. It is the most favorable thing we can possess and express, and this is the key: to serve Krsna favorably as He desires.
Like Arjuna, we face a great battle, an internal battle against our own demons, against our own strict bondage in pride, envy, lust, illusion, and comfort. Like Arjuna, we may come up with so many so-called logical, reasonable, and compassionate reasons not to engage in our battle, which appear favorable to us.
But like Arjuna, using the best expression of our minute free will, we must listen to the words of Krsna, to the words of his teachers, seeing and hearing of their examples, of His glories, in order to understand that what is favorable for us.
"So we have to see what is favorable to Krsna, not sense gratification, not favorable to me. Or to my country, or to my society. No self-interest. Only Krsna's interest. That is bhakti."
In the Adi-Lila of the Caitanya-Caritamrta, Krsnadasa Kaviraja Goswami writes:
The desire to gratify one's own senses is kāma [lust], but the desire to please the senses of Lord Kṛṣṇa is prema [love].
In the purport, Prabhupada writes:
All the regulative principles in the Vedas pertaining to desires for popularity, fatherhood, wealth and so on are different phases of sense gratification. Acts of sense gratification may be performed under the cover of public welfare, nationalism, religion, altruism, ethical codes, Biblical codes, health directives, fruitive action, bashfulness, tolerance, personal comfort, liberation from material bondage, progress, family affection or fear of social ostracism or legal punishment, but all these categories are different subdivisions of one substance — sense gratification. All such good acts are performed basically for one's own sense gratification, for no one can sacrifice his personal interest while discharging these much-advertised moral and religious principles. But above all this is a transcendental stage in which one feels himself to be only an eternal servitor of Kṛṣṇa, the absolute Personality of Godhead. All acts performed in this sense of servitude are called pure love of God because they are performed for the absolute sense gratification of Śrī Kṛṣṇa. However, any act performed for the purpose of enjoying its fruits or results is an act of sense gratification. Such actions are visible sometimes in gross and sometimes in subtle forms.
This is our battleground: the fertile space of the material mind, imagination, and intelligence in which all these gross and subtle desires for sense gratification can grow. If we allow them to grow, then our own capacity to act in such a way that is favorable to and for Krsna will be clouded over.
This path of full, loving surrender to Krsna, as prescribed in the Bhagavad-Gita, is the only way to remove these weeds from our heart and from our being. Chanting the Holy Name, avoiding offenses, following the rules and regs, and most importantly, taking shelter of our spiritual master and spiritual authorities, if done with sincerity and determination, guarantees our success.
In the Nectar of Devotion, Prabhupada writes:
"One has to learn Kåñëa consciousness or pure devotional service from the authorities by spontaneous loving service."
And he adds in tonight's lecture:
"This service should be spontaneous, not forced. Just like a father loves his son spontaneously. A young man likes to love a young girl spontaneously. So bhakti should be like that. As soon as one hears the name of Krsna, immediately, spontaneously, he should be ready to serve Him. That is pure devotion. Not that forced. In the beginning, we have to force, that "You rise early in the morning. There is mangala ärätrika. You have to perform it." But when this function will be done spontaneously, "Oh, this is the time to offer mangala ärätrika to my Lord..." That is wanted."
Fake it until you make it...become conscious before you come Krsna Conscious. We have to force ourselves in the beginning because we are in such an unnatural state of mind, so far from and so much covered from our original state. Our meditation on chanting the Holy Name must be to train our unwieldy mind to always think of Krsna. We must fill our mind, our intelligence, and our very being with the Holy Name.
And in our sincere efforts to serve His devotees, our fellow spiritual warriors in this great battle of our times, we will learn humility, we will face the necessary purification, and we will taste the bliss of authentic loving exchanges and relationships, a taste that is truly beyond this world.
Further from the Nectar of Devotion:
"This devotional service is a sort of civilization. It is not simply inaction for people who like to be inactive or devote their time to silent meditation. There are many different methods for people who want this, but civilization of Krsna consciousness is different. The particular word used by Srila Rüpa Gosvämi is this connection is anusilana, or cultivation by following the predecessor teachers, or äcäryas. As soon as we say 'cultivation,' we must refer to activity. Without activity, consciousness alone cannot help us.' "
"I have to do this. My Lord will be pleased. So I have to do this." Activity. But if I have no idea what is Lord, what does He want, how He's pleased, if we do not know all these things, naturally there will be no activity."
The method is simple: to know Krsna we must simply hear about Krsna from the authorized source, the book bhagavat and the person bhagavat, then our dormant natural state of attraction to Krsna will arise. Prabhupada concludes with these words:
"So anyone who is working for spreading Krsna consciousness, he has no other motive than to satisfy Krsna. He has no other motive than to satisfy the representative of Krsna.