Krishna explains the principles of pure devotional service in Bhagavad Gita. Let us discuss the seven most important principles of pure devotional service given in Bhagavad Gita.
1) Only non-envious can know and understand Krishna
Krishna does not reveal himself to those who are envious of him. In Bhagavad Gita 9.1, Krishna says that he is revealing the most confidential knowledge about him to Arjuna only because Arjuna is non envious of him. Krishna does not like to speak about him to those who envy his qualities.
Just like we have feelings, similarly Krishna has feelings. Just like we do not want to share our life with those who are not friendly with us similarly Krishna also avoids such unfriendly envious people. So, if we want to know the secret of pure devotional life then we have to first free ourselves from all envy which we have for Krishna.
Many people envy Krishna because Krishna has unlimited transcendental qualities which is unparalleled. We, the living beings, in this world also have a secret desire to become God or Krishna. So, when we hear Krishna’s extraordinary qualities, we desire to have those. But we cannot have it, so we envy Krishna.
There are many such examples of those who envied Krishna. For example, Sisupala resented Krishna. When Yudhishthira was performing Rājasūya sacrifice, for Agra-pūjā, Krishnawas selected. All the assembled dignitaries were happy to worship Krishna first in Rājasūya sacrifice but Sisupala could not tolerate Krishna’s glories, so he started blaspheming Krishna. Sisupala was finally killed. So, Krishna avoids revealing his secret to people with Sisupala’s mentality. He does not want to disturb the mind of envious souls.
Purge envy for Krishna and for everyone
But if you and I purge envy for Krishna from our heart then Krishna will open his heart to us. He will impart us the most confidential knowledge about pure devotional life the way he revealed to Arjuna. And that knowledge will drive away all ignorance from our heart and free us from all miseries.
We should not just give up envy for Krishna but we should not envy anyone in this world. Our heart should be free from all the envy. Giving up envy for everyone is one of the most important principles of pure devotional service.
“The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: My dear Arjuna, because you are never envious of Me, I shall impart to you this most confidential knowledge and realization, knowing which you shall be relieved of the miseries of material existence.” Bhagavad Gita 9.1
2) Bhakti or devotion to Krishna is the king of all knowledge
The topmost knowledge is that knowledge which can solve all the problems of our life. And that knowledge is knowledge of bhakti, devotion to Krishna. The goal of life is to know Krishna and go to Krishna. This can be achieved only by Bhakti.
So, Krishna, says that bhakti or direct devotion to Krishna is the most confidential knowledge, rāja-guhyaṁ. It is the king of all knowledge, rāja-vidyā. This knowledge is everlasting. And while performing devotional service to Krishna one experiences lots of bliss, so bhakti is su–sukham.
Bhakti basically means śravaṇaṁ and kīrtanaṁ. Śravaṇaṁ means hearing Krishna’s wonderful pastimes and kīrtanaṁ means chanting Krishna’s wonderful names and singing his glories. These activities are pleasing to the heart. Not just that devotees also enjoy delicious prasadam, offered food to Krishna.
So, devotional life means hearing, singing, dancing, chanting, enjoying Krishna prasadam and ultimately attaining blissful eternal spiritual world. This is attained by bhakti. So, this is the topmost knowledge, the king of all knowledge.
3) Faith in Krishna is must to attain Krishna
If we do not have faith in Krishna or in the process of devotional service, then we will not attain Krishna. And if we fail to attain Krishna, we will continue to remain in this material world where repeated birth and death takes place.
“Those who are not faithful in this devotional service cannot attain Me, O conqueror of enemies. Therefore they return to the path of birth and death in this material world.” Bhagavad Gita 9.3
Srila Prabhupada explains, “Faith is created by association with devotees.” Bhagavad Gita 9.3 purport. Those who have faith in Krishna have complete conviction that “If I will serve Krishna then I will attain complete perfection in life.” But those who do not have faith in Krishna find the path of bhakti difficult. The fortunate souls who have faith in Krishna joyfully perform bhakti.
Those who have firm faith in Krishna continuously chant Krishna’s glories, practice devotion with great determination, always bow down to Krishna and worship him with love and devotion. Bhagavad Gita 9.14
4) Krishna sees the intent of our action
In Bhagavad Gita 9.26, Krishna gives a very simple process by which we can worship him, please him and attain him. “If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, a fruit or water, I will accept it.” Bhagavad Gita 9.26
The items mentioned here is so easily obtainable that anyone can worship him. But in this verse Krishna mentions one important ‘qualification’ which we should have. And that is devotion, bhakti, in our heart. Krishna is not interested in externals, but he sees what is there in our heart. If our intention is pure and we offer these simple items with love and devotion then Krishna will happily accept it.
5) Do everything as an offering to Krishna
Krishna should be the centre of our life. Whatever activities we do, it should be done as an offering to Krishna. Krishna says in Bhagavad Gita 9.27, “Whatever you do, whatever you eat, whatever you offer or give away, and whatever austerities you perform – do that, O son of Kuntī, as an offering to Me.”
If we do so we will free ourselves from all bondage that arises due to various activities we do in this world. The auspicious and inauspicious results will not bind us and affect us. In fact, by always keeping Krishna in centre while doing any activity we will ultimately attain Krishna. Also it is important that we do only those activities which is authorized by the scriptures.
6) Krishna’s devotee never perishes
In Bhagavad Gita 9.22, Krishna says that his devotee will never suffer because he personally takes care of those who are devoted to him. The Supreme Lord says, “..those who always worship Me with exclusive devotion, meditating on My transcendental form – to them I carry what they lack, and I preserve what they have.” Bhagavad Gita 9.22. Again, to reiterate that how merciful he is towards his devotees, he says that his devotees never perish. Bhagavad Gita 9.31
Even his devotee may commit abominable sins, still Krishna makes sure that his devotees become pure and sinless. Sometimes past conditioning of devotees may be so strong that he may indulge in sinful activities. But since he has taken shelter of Krishna by chanting his holy names, so his heart eventually gets purified of all sins and all sinful tendencies. The devotee feels sorry for his sinful deeds. He seeks forgiveness from the Lord, takes a vow not to commit any sins again and with firm determination again starts practicing devotional life.
Srila Prabhupada explains, “The material contamination is so strong that even a yogī fully engaged in the service of the Lord sometimes becomes ensnared; but Kṛṣṇa consciousness is so strong that such an occasional falldown is at once rectified. Therefore the process of devotional service is always a success.” Bhagavad Gita 9.30
Krishna is so merciful towards his devotees that he protects him in all situations and circumstances and makes sure that his devotees come back to him.
7) Whoever takes shelter of Krishna attain ultimate destination
Everyone is eligible to practice devotion to Krishna. There is no qualification required to start practicing bhakti. Even a sinful man can start practicing bhakti and get purified. For example, Mrugrari was a cruel hunter but once he started practicing bhakti under the guidance of sage Narada he became pure and attained Krishna. Krishna does not see our material qualification and is also willing to forgive our past abominable activities.
He just sees if we have a strong desire to sincerely practice process of devotional life or not. If we have, he showers his mercy upon us. This mercy is available for anyone who is committed in spiritual life. Brahmanas and non -Brahmanas, men and women, rich and poor all are qualified to attain love of Krishna.
Krishna gives us a formula by which we all can attain him for sure, “Engage your mind always in thinking of Me, become My devotee, offer obeisances to Me and worship Me. Being completely absorbed in Me, surely you will come to Me.” Bhagavad Gita 9.34
These are the most important principles of pure devotional service discussed in Bhagavad Gita. If we abide by these pure devotional service principles then we will be able to attain Krishna and perfect our life.