How We Can Do Every Activity in a Devotional Mood



When first learning of bhakti-yoga and exploring the meaning, I asked a lot of questions. One answer came to me without the need to ask any question. My mentor advised me to offer everything in service to Krishna, in a mood of devotion. This she explained, is the way back to remembering our love for Krishna and going home to Godhead.

Rasarani devi dasi was gifted to me as part of the Mentor Program at New Govardhana. I met her and we were paired up before I really understood what a Siska Guru was or if I would need one. I say that she is a gift because the understanding, guidance and love that she has given me has been one of the most amazing gifts I have ever received.
After our first meeting, she agreed to mentor me and suggested that we meet weekly by ourselves for lunch. At those times I could ask questions, she would suggest something that I could read, give me tips or a gift, such as my first bead bag - which I still have.
Our first lunch was at Govinda’s at Surfers Paradise, a devotee restaurant owned by the Bhakti Centre with the profits supported the local preaching. I had one hour per week and I wondered if I would have enough time to discuss anything in depth. While quite shy and modest, once Rasarani starts talking about Krishna consciousness, she can talk for hours. I was late back to work that day because I lost track of time.
The first thing we discussed was that the hardest thing to do is controlling the senses and the mind. I learned that working in Krishna Consciousness and serving God, thinking only of God, we can come to be in pure consciousness. This will control the mind and when controlling the mind, we can come to control the senses. Using our intelligence, we can draw the mind back to God. An example she gave was remembering the Lord in everything, such as when cooking, we can choose foods that the Lord will enjoy. I loved this idea, but I still thought it would be hard to always work in a mood of devotion.
Somehow, the fact that I saw this would not be easy, made me want to learn how these processes work. I had heard of karma, as everyone does, but I wanted to know how it really worked and how this would help me to learn about doing everything in a devotional mood.
I was surprised to learn that it is not just karma to consider. Karma is the action, one who understands this does not become entangled in fruitive reactions to work. Then under this, there are two types of karma. Akarma being without reaction to work. This allows us to work in Krishna’s service, doing everything for Him. The second type of karma is vikarma which is the opposite of akarma and is prohibited and would be working against our own mode of nature and not for service of Krishna. I offered my own example here. If my karma or action of working during the day is done with love for Krishna, then I could think of him always, not taking on the reactions and offering my work to Krishna. Then, I could offer my earnings, for example to serve Krishna, such as by donating money to our temple. I started to feel that this was something that I could do.

For our next meeting, Rasarani encouraged me to think about something that I have heard about, to see what my understanding is. I had heard of different kinds of yoga, so I was interest to learn more about the yoga systems as I had heard this could help me to come to God.

In fact, there are levels or pathways within yoga. Meditational-yoga is compared to the tortoise, who brings up their children by laying eggs on land and then meditating on the eggs while in the water. Similarly, we, as devotees, can be nowhere close physically to God, however we can think of and meditate on Him, by engagement in devotional service.
The best yoga in the age of Kali, is Krishna consciousness or bhakti-yoga. A person, pure in bhakti-yoga or karma-yoga accepts making the most of what we are given and enjoys transcendental happiness, being always ready to execute duties in Krishna consciousness.
By becoming engaged in Krishna Consciousness, generally known as bhakti or karma-yoga, we can be situated in loving service of the Supreme Lord through devotional service.
Every day, I have Rasarani in my prayers. I feel she has guided me in a way that no-one could. Especially the way she could explain to me that while we should think of ourselves as being as low as the straw on the street, but we must also understand how systems and classes of men work. As I had heard of the divisions of social order created by the Lord, I felt that by understanding this, I could know what division I am in.

The Lord created four divisions of social order. Intelligent men or Brahmanas are in the mode of goodness. Administrators or ksatriyas and are in the mode of passion. Mercantile or vaisyas are mixed in modes of passion and ignorance. Sudras or labor class are in the ignorant mode of material nature. Krishna Himself, does not fall under these classes as he is not a conditioned soul. Krishna has no personal interest in the varnasrama dharma. He invents this to allow us to become purified through regulation of our desires. 

To be honest, depending on the day I thought I was in a different division and I don’t know if Rasarani actually told me where she feels that I sit. I am smiling writing this as sometimes the best lessons come through self-realization, rather than being handed the answer. In reality, by practicing bhakti-yoga and serving the Lord in loving devotion, rather than trying to decide where I fit, I will make advancement in my relationship with Him.

At times, I felt like I was not serving the Lord enough. The more I came to love Him, the more I felt I wanted to do. I rationalized that if I did not need to go to work each day, I could spend my time in service. However, Rasarani could see where my mind was going. I was taught that renunciation of work is good, but to work for the lord in a devotional loving service is better and I did not need to give up work to do this. She brought me back to a lesson previously learned, where I could use my work in God’s service. Thinking of Him, working for Him and offering my fruits of work to Him. I finally realized that our everyday activities in this material world can be spiritualized by doing and offering everything to the Lord. Bhakti-yoga really did seem like the path to take.
During the time of our mentorship, I feel the real lesson was that for me, bhakti-yoga is the pathway that I want to take. By controlling the senses and mind, working in a loving, devotional mood of service for Krishna and always thinking of Him, I can live peacefully in this material body. There are actions that I must take to live in this world, including living in Krishna consciousness. I also understand now that God is always with me. He is living within the body of all living entities. By understanding and identifying that I am always with the Lord, I can become free, even within the body.
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