WHAT is a Home State (the Heart Space?) – Part-11

Spiritual Progress and the Need for Grace

We aspiring devotees on the path of Krishna consciousness (Bhakti Yoga) must reach the stage where the realization dawns that we can’t achieve success on our own. To go back to God’s kingdom, we need to access His grace, a power beyond our own. The advanced spiritual levels are not achieved by our endeavours; rather they are awarded to us. And to receive grace, we need to surrender.

The main lesson from the story of Gajendra and the crocodile is that we have to move from sense gratification to struggle to finally surrender to God. It is this surrender that made Gajendra a hero in the pages of Shrimad Bhagavatam.

One may wonder: if surrender is the final objective, why not surrender now? And what stops us from calling out to Krishna as Gajendra did?


Why Can’t We Surrender Now?

We lack the ability to call out to Krishna helplessly like Gajendra for at least three reasons.

First, we are not aware that we are in the jaws of the crocodile called Maya – the material energy or our own wicked mind. A snake swallows a frog slowly, but surely. Even as the snake is gulping down the frog, the frog stretches out its tongue to catch a flying insect. Similarly, even as we are reduced to insignificance by all powerful time, we stay oblivious of our situation, busily catching insects daily in the form of our petty materialistic goals.

Second, even if we realize we are suffering in this world, we imagine that the crocodile of Maya will tire and eventually let us go. “She can’t keep biting me forever,” we delude ourselves. “She has to let go sometime.”

Sorry. She never lets go. She is never tired. The crocodile of Maya never sleeps.

We foolishly hope that things will get better in this world. A German saying that translates as “Hope dies last” has been around for a long time. Yet despite our undying hope, in the material world things never really improve. The crocodile of Maya will never relax. The only way to get relief is to surrender to Krishna completely.

A third reason why we don’t surrender is that we falsely assure ourselves that we have in fact surrendered to God because we practice many rituals. But although we may learn scriptural verses or visit holy places, none of this can match the quality of the surrender of Gajendra, who cried out to Krishna for help. Until we take complete shelter of God, the crocodile will continue to bite us.

The only hope for the living entity suffering in the material world of repeated birth and death is to take complete shelter of God. Krishna in the form of His holy names can give us complete relief from suffering.

When Krishna reciprocates with our sincere effort in chanting and prayers, and in your services to others, we’ll see the crocodile of Maya as a blessing. Until then, we’ll see and experience only suffering in this world.

And to reduce our suffering we’ll engage in sense gratification and to afford the sense gratification, we’ll endlessly struggle. It’s thus a vicious downward cycle, which we can now end for ever – by just enjoying the sweetness of surrender to God.