You cannot make a devotee

Bhagavatam says Krishna is the cause and the effect, the Absolute Truth. Illogical, beyond logic. Only if Krishna reveals Himself, then you can become Krishna conscious. You cannot be Krishna conscious by your own endeavor, by your own surrender or austerity. Surrender suggests surrendering to something other than myself, but who am I? I am part of Krishna. So what is that surrender?

A person is born a devotee. He cannot be made a devotee. You cannot “make” a devotee. Becoming Krishna conscious has nothing to do with the material situation or some external influence. It is not an imposition. In Nectar of Devotion, Prabhupada says that if a totally materialistic person comes into the orbit of a devotee, he exhibits Krishna consciousness without undergoing any preliminary devotional service. He reflects the Krishna consciousness of the devotee. But even there, he has to have the heart to reflect. Otherwise, everyone who came in touch with Srila Prabhupada … why they didn’t all become devotees? The idea is that they have to bring something to the table. Srila Prabhupada said that: “You cannot make devotees. The devotees are already there.” And that’s the conclusion of the Acharyas, that in order to remember Krishna, one has to have performed devotional service in a previous life. So those devotees who came to Srila Prabhupada, they were picking up where they left off. But there is waxing and waning. A devotee can take up Krishna consciousness, or he can give it up also. Whenever the Acharya comes, it seems to be the rule that his disciples can only go so far before whatever movement he establishes breaks apart, and their devotional service is suspended. Due to some offense, exiled. But when that time period is up, again they are given the opportunity to associate with devotees. In those days, the early days of the movement, whenever a devotee joined, it was so sudden or abrupt, practically volcanic. Like someone waking up in the morning—”Oh! I’m gonna be late for work” and jumping out of bed. That’s what it was like, devotees waking up to Krishna. But due to some offence, again lose the opportunity.

Going to hell from offense can mean a lot of things. Being in this body for 25 years is hell. The different statements in shastra have mitigating factors, both positive and negative. But for rectifying one’s offense, it’s in the heart. It’s a matter of the heart. Everything is in the heart.

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