I was given a new book for Christmas by Aditya Dāsī. I was initially a little dismissive of it since I didn’t know the author nor had I heard anything about his writing. I knew he was Aditya’s initiating spiritual master and that he was well respected as a preacher in South Africa but that was about it. I did however like the cover.
We are cautioned not to judge a book by its cover so I didn’t make a commitment to read the book. Having recently finished the five volumes of Hari Sauri’s Transcendental Diary and my reading of the Bṛhad Bhāgavatāmṛta had stalled. I was looking for something to sink my teeth into; at least something to deeply engage and absorb my mind. I started to read Bhakti, An Affair of the Heart by Pārtha Sārathi Dāsa Gosvāmī on Wednesday. I’ve been reading it everyday since. I haven’t got very far because I keep going back to re-read what I’ve read before. Each piece is a compelling meditation in itself.
I was intrigued and excited to read the first bite of advice and subsequent offerings; extracts from his letters of the last twenty years offering practical advice to the receiver. I’m going to reproduce the first so you get an idea. This excerpt is particularly relevant to me and my current situation.
Everything is Ordained by Kṛṣṇa
Devotees who are engaged in devotional service to Lord Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, often find their paths set with thorns. Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura stated, “Those favoured by the Lord find their paths set with thorns.” When devotees experience disturbances, in particular, reversals, how should we deal with this? To answer this, I would like to share Śrīla Prabhupāda’s realisations:
One cannot argue with the activities of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The Lord is always free, and therefore He can protect and can also annihilate. He is not our order carrier; whatever He likes He will do. Therefore He is the Supreme Lord. The Lord does not create this material world at anyone’s request, and therefore He can annihilate everything merely by His will. That is His supremacy. If one argues, “Why does He act in this way?” the answer is that He can do so because He is supreme. No one can question His activities. If one argues, “What is the purpose of this sinful creation and annihilation?” the answer is that to prove His omnipotence He can do anything, and no one can question Him. If He were answerable to us concerning why He does something and why He does not, His supremacy would be curtailed. Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 7.2.39
From this concise and deep purport we can understand that it is not appropriate for devotees to question or blame Kṛṣṇa when there are reversals in their lives. Kṛṣṇa ultimately ordains everything. Śrīla Prabhupāda mentioned in a lecture on Bhagavad-gītā 4.22, “You should know firmly that without Kṛṣṇa’s desire nothing can happen.” We should always be firmly convinced that whatever happens to us is ordained, sanctioned and planned by the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This is especially applicable to Lord Kṛṣṇa’s devotees.
In order to practice this we first need faith that Kṛṣṇa ordains whatever happens in our lives. Secondly, we need to be extremely tolerant and humble. Therefore Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu has recommended that in order to practice spiritual life, in particular, chanting the Lord’s holy name, “one has to be lower than the straw in the street and more tolerant than a tree”.