“When a devotee drinks water or any other liquid, he immediately remembers Krishna. For a devotee there is no difficulty in awakening Krishna consciousness twenty- four hours a day.” – Srila Prabhupada (Chaitanya Charitamrita, Madhya lila, 8.274)
Returning to Krishna helps us find shelter. When we confess our failures or report our success and genuinely seek to serve and reconnect with Him, He loves us back unconditionally. This happy experience of connecting with Krishna reinvigorates a spiritual seeker to make fresh promises with renewed determination to please Krishna.
Over time, being accountable to Krishna and reporting to Him personally helps a practitioner find deep emotional fulfilment in Krishna consciousness.
Srila Prabhupada’s example
Srila Prabhupada set a personal example of how to develop a close relationship with Krishna.
In the early 1970s, he faced numerous challenges while building a temple for Krishna in Bombay (now Mumbai). One of the major obstacles was a man named Mr. N, who tried to cheat the devotees and even sent goons to evict them from the land. He also spread malicious rumours about the Hare Krishna movement through pamphlets. However, Srila Prabhupada remained resolute in his determination to keep the land and build the temple. Despite some of his disciples losing heart and even cancelling the deed, he insisted on retaining the land, and eventually, he succeeded in obtaining legal possession.
Some of his disciples were puzzled by his unyielding attachment to the land, but they did not understand the depth of his relationship with Krishna. Srila Prabhupada had made a personal promise to Sri Sri Radha Rasbihari, the deities at the Bombay temple, that he would build a temple for them. He fought tenaciously against the crooks who sought to take away Krishna’s land as a way of keeping his promise.
Five thousand years ago, when Lord Krishna appeared in Vrindavan, His parents, Nanda and Yashoda, were constantly worried about His safety from the demons who often attacked the village. Similarly, Srila Prabhupada took it upon himself to serve and “protect” Krishna by building a temple for Him. He lived on the platform of a personal relationship with Krishna.
In 1970, Srila Prabhupada made a similar promise to Sri Sri Rukmini Dwarakadish deities in Los Angeles. Even though they were worshipped in a small storefront, Srila Prabhupada envisioned a grand temple for them. He kept his word and built a magnificent and ornate temple that now attracts thousands of visitors each year.
Coming back to Krishna
Srila Prabhupada taught us that making a vow to Krishna is a serious matter, and one should only do so if they are fully committed to keeping it. He emphasized two principles: making a promise to Krishna under the guidance of a spiritual master and avoiding vows that are too difficult to fulfil. It’s better to make a small promise and keep it than to make a big vow and fail to do so.
Srila Prabhupada was also compassionate and accommodating when devotees failed. He acknowledged that the path of Krishna consciousness is not always easy and it’s natural to sometimes struggle or fall down. However, he stressed the importance of rectifying our mistakes and returning to Krishna by practical measures like chanting more or associating with sincere devotees.
To cultivate devotion and commitment to Krishna, we must make sincere promises to the Lord and honour them. Even if we fail, it’s essential not to fall away but to rise and come back to Krishna. By honouring our commitments, we can experience profound love for Krishna.
However, unlike Srila Prabhupada, we may sometimes find it challenging to keep our promises to Krishna. During such times, it’s crucial to remember that Krishna loves us, and what matters most is that we return to Him and maintain a healthy emotional connection with Him.
“A promise made to God is a debt unpaid if it remains unfulfilled.” – Saint John Bosco