The lifestyle of a Hare Krishna chanter plays a critical role in developing taste in chanting.
We’ve heard of “Work is worship”, and we often work hard in expectation of better results. But there’s more to it; if work alone is worship, even the thieves would be divine. Therefore the Bhagavad Gita calls upon us to not simply work but also purify our motives while working; if we perform acts that are pleasing to the lord, the act becomes transcendental.
“Work done as a sacrifice for God has to be performed; otherwise work causes bondage in this material world. Therefore, O son of Kunti, perform your prescribed duties for His satisfaction, and in that way you will always remain free from bondage.” (Bhagavad Gita, 3.9)
Although this is a very high standard, we may practically speaking not be on this level, and expect ‘fruits’ from our acts, and also be attached to it. How far can one work for God and also expect fruits in return; and can such an act also be transcendental?
To begin with one may perform activities while being attached to the results of these activities. However if we do not cultivate the attitude of sacrifice or giving back to nature, our actions aren’t noble; the Bhagavad Gita condemns a selfish pursuit and such a worker is called a thief (Bhagavad Gita 3.12).
Quoting the Bhagavad Gita, Radhanath Swami explains that spiritual life begins when we learn to offer the fruits of our activities to Krishna, God. Gradually, by offering a part of our results to God, and thinking of the Lord favourably, we begin to get attached to Krishna. This increases our service attitude, and in turn our attachment to Krishna also grows deeply. Eventually we develop a desire to offer everything we do to Krishna. This is the conclusive instruction of Krishna to Arjuna:
“Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reactions. Do not fear.” (Bhagavad Gita 18.66)
We can enjoy Krishna’s loving association in this mood of surrender. This increases both His and our pleasure
Therefore initially we may not be pure devotees. We may have our material motives, and attachments. But by dovetailing these motivations and attachments in the service of Krishna, gradually one becomes purified.
Lord Krishna explains that whether you have all material attachments, no material attachments or whether you desire liberation or not, you just approach Him; gradually you’d be purified and obtain the purest and highest state of consciousness. (Srimad Bhagavatam 2.3.10).
Krishna also says there are four types of people who approach him; the distressed, the desirer of wealth, the inquisitive, and the one searching for the knowledge of the Absolute (Bhagavad Gita 7.16). Although one approaching the Lord in distress or want of wealth may appear material, Krishna assures in the Bhagavad Gita (7.18, 7.19) that such souls are ‘magnanimous’ and glorious because they are at least approaching God, which is the first step of spirituality. By continuing to serve Krishna and by remembering Him favourably, one’s motives will get purified and eventually one will desire only to love Krishna. Krishna, being in the heart of a devotee will purify his or her desires and help such a devotee develop pure desires (Bhagavad Gita 10.10)
The first step therefore is, whatever your motive, at least approach Krishna.
It’s this approach that helps us connect to Krishna. The famous adage is ‘just chant Hare Krishna” As we progress in our chanting, we gradually get purified and eventually develop love for God. But the first step is, at least chant Hare Krishna.