Love and Devotion

On the altars of many Hindu temples there may be little swing with a sacred image of Krishna. He may be only two inches tall and He is sitting, holding a tiny piece of butter. This pose is known as Makhan Chor, the Butter Thief. Krishna is famous for stealing butter in His childhood. Even today the elderly Hindu ladies come into temples and gently give the swing a push. They bring small pieces of candies and little toys like jacks and kites for Krishna. I often see them pushing this swing with tears in their eyes. It is a marvel. What is happening? Can you guess?

These elderly ladies, who so lovingly push the swing of Krishna, have accepted Krishna as their own child and they experience the “taste” of being Krishna’s mother. This is vatsalya-rasa. They have taken the ordinary taste of the parental mood, which all parents experience, and “spiritualized” this feeling by making God their child! Even many Christian saints do this. Some orders of nuns, when they accept their vows, marry Jesus. They take the worldly taste of conjugal love and transfer it to God, by marrying Jesus. This is shringara-rasa. In Islam many sufi saints also marry themselves to God. So all of these rasas, the tastes we experience in our ordinary lives, may also be experienced spiritually by making God the friend, the child, the lover, and so on. Knowledge of rasa is the doorway to mysticism.

What is the difference between a learned ganika (courtesan) and a learned priest. You would think that these two occupations could not be further apart. They are both knowers of rasa. Both study the Kama Shastra, only one focuses on material tastes and the other on spiritual tastes.

All through my late teens and early twenties I would attend church on Christmas Eve. I like old buildings, especially stone ones, and Toronto is a city graced with an abundance of old stone churches. I would go to the downtown Krishna Temple in the evening and then on the way home attend a Christmas midnight service at one of these old cathedrals. Years earlier my parents had to drag me to church, but now it was my choice to attend these midnight communion services. I enjoyed these services immensely–sitting in the pew looking at the stain glass images and listening to the Christmas music. The taste that enveloped me bordered on the mystical. I experienced a religious taste, the mood of love and devotion. Anna, it is a pleasing taste indeed.

So here is what is good about Krishna Consciousness. Krishna Consciousness can deliver the taste of love and devotion, I came to Krishna Consciousness and I stayed in Krishna Consciousness solely because of this taste. As I sat in the church during Christmas Eve or when I sat in the temple listening to the devotional songs and chanting I received this overwhelming taste of love and devotion. My outburst of mad laughter when I first visited the temple, which I told you about, was also the result of tasting this feeling of love and devotion. But I must warn you, if you ever taste this rasa of love and devotion, beware it could ruin your life. Such tastes of devotion far overshadow anything that you can taste in this physical world, even parakiya shringara love. Once you have tasted this rasa of love and devotion you will never again be satisfied with the ordinary tastes of this world. Such tastes of spiritual love and devotion come at a great cost.

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