Habit of Intensity

Intensity, as Swāmi says, is needed to attain God. It is the intensity of our prayers, our devotion, our yearning that melts the heart of the Lord and forces Him, or so to say, to reveal His beautiful form to the devotee. Swāmi has often mentioned that the prayers of devotees should be intense in a sense that they should bind the heart of Lord, so that the Lord may deign to come to them.

The mode of intensity includes dedication towards one’s chosen goal. Dedicated people try to put in their 100% while they undertake or venture into anything. There is nothing else that attracts or binds them more than their prized motive and no wonder that in spiritual field it is going to be God. The germination of dedication in one’s thoughts would strengthen the will-power that automatically will become a great force for future endeavors.

It is often said in Eastern philosophy or in certain schools of thought that the Lord becomes the servant of his devotees–servant in a sense that He needs to do all the works of His devotees, for, they have lost their consciousness or have surrendered to Him. They have become totally dependent losing the sense of their individual identity and therefore they need to be protected and taken care of. Lord Kṛṣṇa in Gītā has also stressed this point:

अनन्याश्चिन्तयन्तो मां ये जनाः पर्युपासते।

तेषां नित्याभियुक्तानां योगक्षेमं वहाम्यहम्।। (Chapter 9, Canto 22)

(Ananyāścintyanto māṃ yé janahāḥ paryupāsté, teṣām nityābhiyuktānāṃ yogkśémaṃ Vahāmyahaṃ.)

(He who thinks about Me alone and worships Me with desirelessness, I protect their worship and deliver the achievement of Myself to such constantly engrossed people.)


shri krishna, krishnaThis point can be depicted beautifully through a story from the great epic of Māhābhārata. This story is often quoted by Swāmi himself when he tells about the value of intensity.

One day, Lord Kṛṣṇa was seated with His queens, and Draupadī, the wife of Pāndavas was also present there. Presently, Lord Kṛṣṇa was eating sugarcane. We do not know how sugarcane is eaten in other countries, but even to the present time, sugarcane is one of the most cherished items that one enjoys when one is free and has time to enjoy it. However, the characteristics of sugarcane make it a bit sharp to lips and fingers if not handled properly, and sometimes lips of the person are cut a little, though this does not happen often.

It so happened that during the course of enjoying the sugarcane, a finger of Lord Kṛṣṇa was cut and it started bleeding. We do not know exactly here how Lord Kṛṣṇa’s finger was cut–the only possible way is that He might be using a knife or some sharp object to cut the sugarcane.

It is clear that the finger was oozing out with blood and something had to be done immediately so that the bleeding could be stopped. It so happened that the queens like Satyabhāmā rushed to their apartments to get the bandage or called their maid-servants to fetch the bandage. However, as Druapadī was a guest there, she did not own an apartment and had no maid-servant to call to help. She tore-off her Sari and wrapped it on Lord Kṛṣṇa’s finger. This is where intensity comes–Swāmi points out that in such times, a devotee who does not care for conventionalism, for his or her benefits, but acts in a totally unselfish manner, exemplifies the intensity of his or her character.

Draupadī was also a queen, and it looks so unbecoming for a queen to tear-off her Sari, and especially in those ancient times. Moreover, Lord Kṛṣṇa did not ask her to do so either. But it was her intensity of love towards her God that made her feel that Lord Kṛṣṇa was hurt (though He can’t be), and she must do whatever she can to mitigate that pain. It happened to her that if she wraps that Sari on His finger, the oozing of blood may subside a little, though the healing of the cut could not be achieve by that.

She did not think that what other might say about her torn Sari: she did that out of her Love for Lord Kṛṣṇa. And Swāmi says that it is this act which made Lord Kṛṣṇa to come to her aid when she was disrobed in the royal assembly when her husbands had lost her in the game of dice. It was this piece of Sari that became unending during her severest of trials. She did not wait for the conventional manners to stop the bleeding, and so did Lord Kṛṣṇa!

One more thing is to be discussed here: why did Lord Kṛṣṇa allowed that torture to be heaped upon Draupadī. It is here that Karma theory comes into fore: according to her Karma, she had to undergo this process; but because of her elevated devotion towards God in her present, Lord Kṛṣṇa blessed her during most trying times of her life.

It is worthy of mentioning here that Draupadī had a relation of sister with Lord Kṛṣṇa and so was the wife of Duryodhana, Bhānumatī. Lord Kṛṣṇa achieved His objectives and fulfilled His promises to both to His sisters. It can be believed that Draupadī did not care of her dress due to the sisterly love; but the wives of Lord Kṛṣṇa were also present there—they did not show the same urgency and this is where the matter was clinched. Lord does not care what type of relation or what type of feelings you have for Him. He does care about the intensity of those feelings and the urgency you have for winning His grace.

Swāmi’s words on Intensity

“When individuals change, society will change. And when society changes, the whole world will change. The welfare of the individual is bound up with the welfare of society as a whole. Unity is the secret of social progress, and service to society is the means to promote it. Everyone, therefore, should devote himself to such service in a spirit of dedication. One who does not dedicate himself to such work is like a rusting machine. Concern for one’s own welfare and prosperity should not blind one to one’s social obligations or spiritual destiny….A society in which the individuals are concerned only about material welfare will not be able to achieve harmony and peace.”

Intensity stands as one of the main prerequisites if somebody has to achieve anything in this life. Spirituality, for that matter, is not the simplest of tasks; it is the most difficult thing that you would be doing while on earth and so you can expect a lot of difficult and unnatural things while you tread the path of spirituality. It is better to prepare yourself with that kind of mindset. From this, you can easily gauge the measure of intensity you will be required to generate in your pursuits.

Prayers, pursuits, plans and programs should be intense so as to achieve the final goal. There is no point in putting up a lackadaisical effort and then grumbling that it did not yield. Spiritual people grow through this habit—when their intensity reaches a point where God can’t hold back, they are blessed with the vision that destroys all illusory perceptions pertaining to mind and body.

If you read the life-story of Mother Teresa, you would certainly know how she achieved what stood as unachievable. She literally picked children from litter and garbage and gave them love. Her intense devotion towards her work and her intense understanding of the fact that all are God’s children made her worthy of adoration and love. She did not care what others have to say about whom—she knew only one thing: everybody should be given a chance of being loved. She practiced this thought with her utmost capability and no wonder that she achieved what she wanted.

How Swāmi exemplified this habit

Swāmi always demonstrates what He says or exhorts us to do—there is never a chance that He does one thing and says the other. Though sometimes, it might appear that He has contradicted His own words or actions, but at His level, there is never a contradiction. It is the matter of our growth into universal wisdom as to how much we can understand His actions or words.

During very early days in Puṭṭāpartī, Swāmi used to feed a lot of people during festivals. During those times, Puṭṭāpartī did not have any facilities like the ones that we see nowadays. It could be very easily understood that at that period of time, a remote village could have little to boast about. As the luck of those poor (!) people would have (they were in fact the most fortunate to have been served food by Swāmi Himself!), Swāmi used to serve food all by Himself. It has been reported that it could take hours before Swāmi finished serving all of them in hot sun.

During one of such lovely moments, Swāmi noticed a baby crying a few rows away where He was serving food. He understood the yearning of that baby and asked the helping ladies to bring some milk so that the baby could be hushed up. The ladies hurried towards the kitchen and boiled some milk quickly so that it could be fed to the baby. When they handed the milk-bottle to the baby, it did not like it. Swāmi went on to chide on those ladies because they did not carried out His command in a precise manner. Being ladies, they should have known that after boiling the milk, it should be brought to a lukewarm temperature so that the baby can be fed. How can a baby drink hot milk?

Observing this incident, it could appear that how it can be taken as an example of intensity. The point is very subtle. We know that Swāmi is God. He has the power to create and dissolve everything. Still, while playing the role that He has himself imposed on Himself, He demonstrate to carry out the worldly responsibilities with steadfast earnestness. During serving around  four thousand people personally, he took care of a little baby who was crying and went on to chide the grown-ups because they did not take enough care about the temperature of the milk that was to be given to the baby.

The minuteness of this incident tells us precisely how a person intensely devoted to reach the highest goal should try to put in wholesome effort. Though the results are always in the hands of God, there should be not an iota of space where more could have been done on our part.

Swāmi has often declared that if a devotee takes but one single step towards Him, He will take hundred towards him. A beautiful song depicts this:

प्रेम के बस एक पग तुम लीजिओ, सौ पग दौड़ के आयो

(Prém ké bas ik pag tum lījiyo, sō pag dauḏ ké āyo)

It means that if you take one step of love, He takes hundred running towards you. Swāmi says that we should develop this habit of taking a step towards God and rest He would take care. But this step should be taken with an intense desire to reach God or to make Him come to you. If your step is wobbling and does not carry fully devoted love towards the destination, God will not respond or would respond as a reflection in the mirror.

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