Nectar of Devotion
by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Indifference and Separation
The great devotee Uddhava once wrote a letter to Krsna, “My dear Krsna, I have just finished the study of ail kinds of philosophical books and Vedic verses about the goal of life, and so now I have a little reputation for my studies. But still, in spite of my reputation, my knowledge is condemned, because although enjoying the effulgence of Vedic knowledge, I could not appreciate the effulgence emanating from the nails of Your toes. Therefore, the sooner my pride and Vedic knowledge are finished, the better it will be!” This is an example of indifference.
Another devotee very anxiously expressed himself thus: “My mind is very flickering, so I cannot concentrate it upon Your lotus feet. And seeing this inefficiency in myself I become ashamed, and the whole night I am unable to sleep because I am exasperated by my great inability.”
In the Krsna-karnamrta Bilvamangala Thakura has explained his restlessness as follows: “My dear Lord, Your naughtiness in boyhood is the most wonderful thing in the three worlds. And You Yourself know what this naughtiness is. As such, You can very easily understand my flickering mind. This is known to You and me. Therefore, I am simply yearning to know how I can fix my mind on Your lotus feet.”
Another devotee expressed his impudence by saying, “My dear Lord, without considering my lowly position, I must confess to You that my eyes are just like black wasps, desiring to hover at Your lotus feet.”
In the Seventh Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam, Fourth Chapter, verse 37, the great sage Narada informs Maharaja Yudhisthira about Prahlada Maharaja, who was a devotee from the very beginning of his life. The proof of Prahlada’s natural devotion is that even when he was a small child he did not play with his playmates, but was always eager to preach the glories of the Lord. Instead of joining in their sportive acrobatic feats, he remained an inactive child because he was always in trance, meditating on Krsna. As such, there was no possibility of his being touched by the external world.
The following statement is about a brahmana devotee: “This brahmana is very expert in all kinds of activities, but I do not know why he is looking up without moving his eyes. It appears that his body is fixed motionless just like a doll’s. I can guess that in this condition he has been captivated by the transcendental beauty of that expert flute-player, Sri Krsna, and being attached to Him, he is simply staring at the black cloud, remembering the bodily hue of Sri Krsna.” This is an example of how a devotee can become inert due to ecstatic love.
In Srimad-Bhagavatam, Seventh Canto, Fourth Chapter, verse 40, Prahlada Maharaja says that even in his childhood, when he was loudly speaking the glories of the Lord, he used to dance just like a shameless madman. And sometimes, being fully absorbed in thought on the pastimes of the Lord, he used to imitate such pastimes. This is an instance of a devotee’s being almost like a madman. Similarly, it is said that the great sage Narada was so ecstatically in love with Krsna that he would sometimes dance naked, and sometimes his whole body would become stunned. Sometimes he would laugh very loudly, sometimes he would cry very loudly, sometimes he would remain silent, and sometimes he would appear to be suffering from some disease, although he had no disease. This is another instance of becoming like a madman in the ecstasy of devotion.
In the Hari-bhakti-sudhodaya it is stated that when Prahlada Maharaja was thinking himself unfit to approach the Supreme Personality of Godhead, he immersed himself in great distress, in an ocean of unhappiness. As such, he used to shed tears and lie down on the floor as though unconscious.
The students of a great devotee once talked among themselves in this way: “My dear Godbrothers, our spiritual master, after seeing the lotus feet of the Lord, has thrown himself into the fire of lamentation, and because of this fire the water of his life has almost dried away. Let us now pour the nectar of the holy name through his ears, and by our doing so the swan of his life may again show signs of life.”
When Lord Krsna went to the city of Sonitapura to fight with Bali’s son Bana and to cut off all his hands, Uddhava, being separated from Krsna and thinking of His fight, was almost completely stunned into unconsciousness.
When a devotee is fully in love with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, there may be the following symptoms due to his feelings of separation from the Lord: a feverish condition of the body, withering of the body, lack of sleep, nonattachment, inertness, appearing diseased, madness, unconsciousness and sometimes death.
As far as the feverish condition of the body is concerned, Uddhava once told Narada, “My dear great sage, the lotus flower that is a friend of the sun may be a cause of distress for us, the fire in the ocean may cause us some burning sensation, and Indivara, the friend of a demon, may distress us in various ways—we do not mind. But the most regrettable factor is that all of them remind us of Krsna, and this is giving us too much distress!” This is an instance of the feverish condition which is due to being separated from Krsna.
Some of the devotees who went to see Krsna at Dvaraka and were detained at the door said, “My dear Krsna, O friend of the Pandus, as the swan loves to dive into the water among the lily flowers and would die if taken from the water, so we wish only to be with You. Our limbs are shrinking and fading because You have been taken away from us.”
The King of Bahula, although very comfortably situated in his palace, began to think the nights very long and distressing because of his separation from Krsna.
King Yudhisthira once said, “Krsna, the chariot driver of Arjuna, is the only relative of mine within the three worlds. Therefore, my mind is becoming maddened day and night with separation from His lotus feet, and I do not know how to situate myself or where I shall go to attain any steadiness of mind.” This is another example of lack of sleep.
Some of the cowherd friends of Krsna said, “Dear Krsna, O enemy of the Mura demon, just think of Your personal servant Raktaka. Simply because he saw a peacock feather, he is now closing his eyes and is no longer attentive to pasturing the cows. Rather, he has left them in a faraway pasture and has not even bothered to use his stick to control them.” This is an instance of mental imbalance due to separation from Krsna.
When Lord Krsna went to the capital of King Yudhisthira, Uddhava was so afflicted by the fire of separation from Sri Krsna that the perspiration from his inflamed body and the tears from his eyes poured from him, and in this way he became completely stunned.
When Sri Krsna left the city of Dvaraka to seek out the Syamantaka jewel and He was late returning home, Uddhava became so afflicted that the symptoms of disease became manifest on his body. Actually, due to his excessive ecstatic love for Krsna, Uddhava became known in Dvaraka as crazy. To his great fortune, on that day Uddhava’s reputation as a crazy fellow was firmly established. Uddhava’s craziness was practically proved when he went to Raivataka Hill to minutely observe the congested black clouds. In his disturbed condition, he began to pray to these clouds, and he expressed his jubilation by bowing down before them.
Uddhava informed Krsna, “My dear leader of the Yadu dynasty, Your servants in Vrndavana cannot sleep at night thinking of You, so now they are all lying down on the bank of the Yamuna almost paralyzed. And it appears that they are almost dead, because their breathing is very slow.” This is an instance of becoming unconscious due to separation from Krsna.
Krsna was once informed, “You are the life and soul of all the inhabitants of Vrndavana. So because You have left Vrndavana, all of the servitors of Your lotus feet there are suffering. It is as if the lakes filled with lotus flowers have dried up from the scorching heat of separation from You.” In the example given here, the inhabitants of Vrndavana are compared to lakes filled with lotus flowers, and because of the scorching heat of separation from Krsna, the lakes—along with the lotus flowers of their lives—are being burned up. And the swans in the lakes, who are compared to the vitality of the inhabitants of Vrndavana, are no longer desiring to live there. In other words, because of the scorching heat, the swans are leaving the lakes. This metaphor is used to describe the condition of the devotees separated from Krsna.