My daughter, Jennifer, and I first experienced Krishna consciousness together. We met some yoga teachers, who introduced us to kirtan and eventually, classes to teach us of Krishna. While I took to this straight away, Jennifer had more interest in yoga asana and kirtan.
The devotees that we met were very clear that it is best not to push or force people, but rather to lead by example. I have tried very hard to do so, although I am very far from perfect myself. However, when I took initiation in 2019, I could see that this sparked an interest in Jennifer, and she was ready to start to learn.
My motto since she was young, was to always answer questions that come up and add a little extra, without being overwhelming. I felt this would be the best way to introduce bhakti-yoga to Jennifer, now that she was ready to start the process.
Of the four types of people who surrender, Jennifer and I are both those who became inquisitive. Which is interesting that we both came, many years apart from the same direction. As she had just left home at the time that Jennifer was ready to start this path, we both agreed to meet on Sundays to chant, sing, read and discuss any questions that may arise during the week.
Week one, we met at Jennifer’s apartment which was a very peaceful place. We could discuss anything without disturbance. After some kirtan (Jennifer has an amazing voice), we decided to discuss our relationships. We talked about how we forget Krishna and this is because of maya. But there is a way to remember. The material world is temporary and all activities are directed by the Lord, it is our role to come back to God, through Bhakti yoga, to remember this eternal loving relationship. The Lord is the Supersoul throughout the universes and we are blessed to know that He is within our heart as Paramatma, along with our jiva soul, which is individual to us.
Remembering that this material nature or prakriti, is the energy of the Lord, can help us to understand further how this relationship works. While Lord Krishna expands into three different Vishnu’s, all we must remember is that one creates material energy, the second creates diversity in the universes. But for now, let’s concentrate on the third, who is the Supersoul, or Paramatma, present in everyone and everything.
Week two, I was excited to advise Jennifer that we can look at ways that we can see Krishna everywhere. I asked her to think every day of ways that she can see Krishna in the world. The first way that Jennifer thought of seeing Krishna is the transcendental chant, as she loved chanting and singing at kirtan, I should have realized this would be her first way to notice Him. She also thought of the syllable om, as this is something we see in the world every day, and I have an om hanging on my wall. We decided to sit outside in the shade and Jennifer found when she looked around, that Krishna is our shelter. I directed her to read Bhagavad Gita, as in chapter nine, there are 35 ways that she can see Krishna in the world. We decided to pick one each day and both come up with a way that we could see Him.
Week three I had a plan, but Jennifer had something that she wanted to share. When reading the Bhagavad Gita, she found a section of a purport that was interesting. “One who knows God knows that the impersonal conception and personal conception are simultaneously present in everything and that there is no contradiction. Therefore, Lord Caitanya established His sublime doctrine: acintya-bheda and abheda-tattvam - simultaneously one and different. Jennifer said this reminded her of how Krishna is the omkara sound at the beginning of Vedic hymns and that this address to the Lord also comes from Him. What an amazing find! I loved that not only was Jennifer asking for guidance, but she was searching on her own too.
We had time, so after lunch we also discussed what I wanted to share, which was to be careful of worshiping demigods. I explained that some fall into the trap of material desires and surrender to the demigods, when in fact, they should put their love and faith into Krishna. As it is He who supplies the faith that the worshipper offers and the rewards that the material desires feel that they can get by worshiping the demigods.
I was happy to hear that Jennifer had looked into this a bit herself as she had some confusion over the demigods, but it is always a reminder that I like to hear, so I also share. Of course, this led to the best way to show our love to God. I shared that the Bhagavad Gita tells us that Bhakti-yoga is recommended above all other systems.
Bhakti is the path that yields the greatest results, yet it is the easiest to follow. It is so simple that we can offer something small, such as a flower, some water or even the fruit of what we are doing, such as our daily works. By doing this, we will be able to realize Krishna.
Whatever we do, eat, give, or any work we perform, we can offer this to God and work in loving devotional service and that is true love for Krishna. What can be more fulfilling than doing everything for Him?
The next time we met, Jennifer told me that she was ready to commit to loving and serving God through Bhakti-yoga. She was already following the regulative principles. She was chanting, and although it was not quite 16 rounds yet, she was working on really absorbing the mantras, rather than getting through more, which I had to admire.
Our fifth Sunday was when it happened. Jennifer told me that she had been praying and meditating on this for a long time. Our Sunday catch ups had been the deciding factor and now she was sure more than anything of her path.
Jennifer asked the best way to do this. I explained that our relationship with Krishna is not something to begin in retirement, or when we have time. We should contemplate Krishna daily through chanting to always remember Him. The great maha mantra of Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare / Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare is the way to strengthen our relationship with the Lord. We can also practice remembering Krishna through any activities that we perform and through service.
We can meditate on Krishna with devotion, thinking of Him while we go about our daily duties, such as our work and dedicate this to Him. She could take up some service at the Bhakti Centre and this will also help you to remember Him. This will ensure that we will attain our goals in life, to remember Krishna and attain the supreme abode.
Jennifer and I now attend classes together at our local preaching center, she is currently chanting 12 rounds a day and still comes to me for advice, although not as often. The biggest piece of advice I can offer someone new to bhakti is to always chant and remember Krishna. The best advice for someone in my position is to realize that we can only give so much advise and we must let our children fly and learn themselves. I can see the difference that Krishna has made in both of our lives and I pray we can share this with many others.