Devotion is not running away from duties

In Sanatana Dharma, Creator and creation are not two separate entities. The ocean and its waves are not different; the ocean is water, just like the waves. Likewise, there are earrings and necklaces in gold, just as there is gold in the earring and necklace.

God doesn’t dwell in the skies but in all beings, moving and unmoving. Everything is God; there is nothing that isn’t God. This is what Sanatana Dharma teaches.

Loving and serving all beings is the worship of the Divine. There are temples dedicated to birds, trees and even lizards. In each instance, love is transformed into worship. This is nothing but a practical expression of the principle Sanatana Dharma espouses: to love and serve all, seeing God in them.

What kind of devotion should we cultivate?

One day, Lord Krishna dressed up as a gopa (cowherd) and ran to Vrindavan. He told each of the gopis (milkmaids), “O gopi, Krishna is calling you. He said that He would dance with the first gopi to reach Him.” The gopis didn’t even bother to ask where the Lord was. They just dashed off. Having only half understood, the gopis started running towards the river Yamuna.

The gopi who was serving her husband food ran with the ladle still in hand. Those who were sweeping the courtyard sprinted away with the broom. The gopi who was pounding paddy darted off with the pestle. A gopi who had rimmed just one of her eyes with kohl dashed away without rimming the other. Those who were bathing ran to the Yamuna without even changing their clothes. In this way, every gopi took off as soon as she heard the news. Seeing this, Lord Krishna couldn’t help laughing. He then went to Radha’s house and told her the same thing. She said, “You must be tired from running around to pass the message to everyone. Please come in and sit down for a while.”

“No, sister. You’d better leave at once. Krishna will dance with the first person who reaches Him.”
Radha said, “No, no! You are tired after all that running around. Please have some milk.”
When He heard this, Krishna limped His way to the veranda. “Why are you limping?” Radha asked.
Krishna replied, “While running, a thorn pricked my foot.”
“Please sit down. I will remove the thorn,” Radha said.
“No, sister. If you waste time removing my thorn, you won’t be able to dance with the Lord. Please leave at once,” said Krishna.
“If I leave without removing the thorn from your foot, that thorn will keep pricking my heart when I dance with the Lord. Even if I cannot dance with Him, I can at least watch Him dance from a distance, can’t I? So, do come in and sit down for a while.” Saying so, Radha took Krishna’s foot and placed it on her lap. When she bent down to take out the thorn, the Lord took out His flute, which He had hidden, and put it to his lips. When she heard the divine melody from His flute, a stream of tears started flowing from Radha’s eyes and she fell at His feet. With whom did the Lord dance? Radha.

Devotion is not running away from duties. Turning a blind eye to those standing before us, without consoling them lovingly, is not devotion. That is why the Lord told Arjuna, “O Arjuna, there is nothing in the three worlds that need I to do or attain. And yet, I engage in action” (Bhagavad Gita, 3.22). Krishna showed that if we change our attitude, the very situation will also change.