The Magic of Gratitude
The sanksrit word for gratitude is krtajna – which translates literally as “knowing what has been done.”
Krishna is aware of any service done for Him – whether it is recognized as important like constructing a big temple, which is visited by millions, or whether it goes unnoticed like the chanting of His Names in the secrecy of the early morning hours. He knows it all and He feels obliged to those who are mindful of Him.
For example, Krishna was grateful to Draupadi because she once cried: “He Govinda!” in a helpless condition. Krishna remarked, “Draupadi’s call for Me has made Me indebted to her, and this feeling is gradually increasing in My heart.”
Srila Prabhupada comments: “So to anyone who is constantly engaged in addressing the Lord and His energy, we can imagine how much the Supreme Lord is obliged. It is impossible for the Lord to ever forget such a devotee. It is clearly stated here that anyone who addresses the Lord immediately attracts the attention of the Lord, who always remains obliged to him.” (NOD, ch. 21)
Last February I visited the Pandava Senas to facilite a Tree of Life Seminar for them. The Saturday evening program was reserved for some sketches. One was about Krishna’s gratitude and it caught my immediate attention. It showed a depressed girl with a strong rope around her neck, ready to hang herself. But before she could kick the chair away, her neighbour , a devotee, rushed in and asked her for some milk which he needed to complete his last minute offering.
The girl showed him to her fridge and encouraged him to take everything, since she would not have further use for anything. The devotee gratefully accepted a carton of milk and promised to return after his offering to talk with this distressed person and help her out.
When the devotee left, the poor girl returned to her suicide attempt, but when she fell, she surprisingly fell into the arms of Lord Krishna who had suddenly appeared on the scene. Krishna sweetly addressed the girl: “Because you have served me with your offering of milk, I feel so grateful that I shall take you back with Me to my kingdom of bliss.”
I was deeply moved, as simultaneously a few incidents in my life came to mind whereby I had witnessed the Lord’s unreserved mercy upon me. Thinking about Krishna’s extraordinary gratitude endears Him to our hearts and evokes feelings of gratefulness, and this attitude is most beneficial.
“Gratitude is the condition of the heart that enables spiritual growth to take place” writes Srila Prabhupada.
Devotess of Krishna meditate about things they can be grateful for. They avoid thinking about all those things that they do not have, nor all those arrangements that have not worked out. Instead they focus on what has been given to them – all the opportunities that arrive each day upon their doorsteps, all the relationships that have encouraged them and last but not least, the human form of life, which offers them a unique opportunity for self-realization. Thus, they cover themselves each new morning in the warming mantle of gratitude and feel empowered.
Expressing your gratitude
Expressing our gratitude has two benefits:
- You become more conscious of what you have
- You connect with the person (human or divine) you feel grateful to
My suggestion to you is to compile a mental list each day with items you can be grateful for. To give an example:
“I am grateful for this day so full of opportunities to serve and grow. I am grateful to Krishna for giving me the Holy Names. I am grateful to have such and such people in my life . . . .”
You will immediately feel how your heart and vision widens.
All too often we do not see the tremendous opportunities we are given. We see but we do not recognize them as such. We are “opportunity-blind”. That is dangerous!
Gratefulness makes us look again into our lives and maybe discover it for the first time. Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura explained the extent of a devotee’s gratitude as follows:
“Even if a devotee serves Krishna for one thousand universal creations, he cannot repay the debt he feels towards Krishna for having received the opportunity to serve the Lord’s lotus feet.”