What qualities should a devotee have?

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What qualities should a devotee have?

A devotee inquired from his guru Parasar Bhat about the qualities of a sincere devotee.  Parasar Bhat contemplated on the question and advised him to go to Anantacharya for the answer. The curious devotee immediately went to the monastery of Anantacharya.

Upon reaching, he explained his purpose of visit and asked for an audience with the revered saint. But Anantacharya asked him to stay in the ashram and said that he would give the answer later. The devotee thought that it is better to stay here till my queries are addressed. But what unfolded later, he was least prepared for.

Devotee patiently tolerates

In the beginning of his stay he was treated with love and respect but it did not last long. Soon he found that he is being treated with disdain. He was being neglected and was asked to perform many services which he happily did. The devotee without any complain continued to stay in the ashram.

He thought that he has come here with a mission and so he will not leave the place unless he gets answer to his questions. Several months had passed but he did not get any answer but he still waited patiently for the reply.

Once a big feast was organized and when he too sat with other devotees for taking food he was asked by Anantacharya to get up and serve all. He was told to take food in the next batch. And when he sat in the next batch, he was again asked to get up and serve all. This continued till the time he was the only one who had not taken the food. 

And now Anantacharya showed his compassion. He called the devotee and asked what his question was. The devotee reverently replied, “I want to know the qualities of a sincere devotee.”

The four qualities of a devotee

Srila Anantacharya said: A true devotee is: (a) like a crane (b) like a hen (c) like salt and (d) like you

The answer was confusing and the venerable sage did not even elaborate, he asked the devotee to go and get the explanation from Parasar Bhat.  The devotee immediately left the ashram and went to Parasar Bhat who was also eagerly waiting to know what answer the great Anantacharya would have given.

The devotee paid respects to Parasar Bhat and narrated the entire incident and also the answer which he had got. Upon hearing the qualities of a genuine devotee explicated by Anantacharya, Parasar Bhat was jubilant. 

And he started explaining the deep meaning which was hidden in the answer:   

1. Like a crane:

  • As the colour of the crane is white without any spots, similarly the heart of a devotee should be utterly clean with no dark spots. 
  • Crane stands on one leg in the water and keeps on watching the fish. It let go the small fishes but the moment sees a big one then it pounces on it. A devotee too knows what to accept and what to ignore. A devotee ignores materialistic people engaged in mundane talks but whenever finds any spiritual discourse then he immediately grabs the opportunity to immerse himself in hearing Lord’s glories. He does not waste his valuable time in unnecessary gossips.
  • During monsoon season, crane leaves the river and goes away to a distant place and returns back when things become normal. A devotee similarly leaves the association of those people who do not have interest in Krishna consciousness and goes to the place where he can get the association of sincere devotees.

2. Like a hen:

  • A hen digs its head in the garbage, segregates the filthy stuff and picks healthy food to eat.  A devotee is sargrahi, he is interested only in the essence. As a crow looks for garbage, a fly looks for wounds similarly materialistic people have fault finding tendency. But a sincere soul, who is very much interested in elevating his consciousness, discards mundane and non-devotional activities and only focuses on activities which can take him closer to Krishna.

3. Like Salt:

  • While relishing any delicacies we praise the cook, the spices, the vegetables and every other ingredient which we have on our platter but have we ever praised the salt? No. In fact we take the presence of salt for granted. If there is no salt in the food then we immediately realize its absence but we never recognize its presence.
  • A devotee being like a salt means that he is ready to sacrifice his personal identity and easily gels with other devotees and renders service without bothering for honour, respect and prestige. He humbly serves all the vaisnavas and becomes so intimate with them that if he not with them even for a moment they start missing his presence. 
  • Also in our food salt has to be in optimum quantity – neither too much nor too little. Similarly a vaisnava has to be balanced. Krishna says in Gita 6.16, “There is no possibility of one’s becoming a yogi, O Arjuna, if one eats too much or eats too little, sleeps too much or does not sleep enough.” And again in Bhagavad Gita 6.17 Krishna gives the formula for success, “He who is regulated in his habits of eating, sleeping, recreation and work can mitigate all material pains by practicing the yoga system.

4. Like You:

  • You had gone there with a purpose and you stayed there tolerating all the adverse conditions unless and until you achieved your goal. Also you had a service attitude because whenever you were asked to serve you did it with all humility and without any complain. 
  • Lord Chaitanya in his Sistastakam prayers underlines the importance of tolerance and humility: “One should chant the holy names of the Lord in a humble state of mind thinking oneself lower than the straw in the street. One should be more tolerant than a tree devoid of all sense of false prestige and should be ready to offer all respects to others. In such a state of mind one can chant the holy names of the Lord constantly.”

Conclusion

The above four qualities is a must for all the sincere seekers. How much of it we have now we need to introspect and simultaneously we should endeavour to assimilate all these wonderful qualities which will help us to attain love of Krishna.

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