[As Bábá(1) took His seat in the room in the Jamalpur Ashram, He said:] In the Mahábhárata period we find two persons coming quite close to Shrii Krśńa – Arjuna and Sudámá. Both were greatly devoted to him. Now tell me, which of the two is the greater devotee of Shrii Krśńa, and whom would you choose as the ideal of your life?
[One by one, persons present there expressed their views. Some said that Arjuna was more devoted to Shrii Krśńa than was Sudámá, for he did all that the Lord asked him to do. Arjuna was the ideal of their life for he was a great karma yogii (yogi of selfless action) and the much-troubled world of today needed a karma yogii. A similar number were for Sudámá. Even being such a poor man and knowing that his childhood playmate Krśńa could shower riches on him, he never ever asked for even a little material help. Sudámá was a greater devotee than was Arjuna. Sudámá was the ideal of their life. When all had expressed themselves, Bábá said:] Devotion means unconditional self-surrender. The measure of devotion is the amount of this self-surrender. One who has more of it, is a greater devotee than one who has less of it.
[Bábá paused and then said:] Arjuna and Sudámá were great devotees. But while comparing their devotion by this yardstick, we have got to say that Sudámá was a greater devotee than was Arjuna. You know the story in the Mahábhárata – Arjuna refused to fight when Shrii Krśńa asked him to do so. This shows that Arjuna did not have full faith in and complete surrender to Shrii Krśńa. Had there been complete surrender, Arjuna would have done as directed by Shrii Krśńa. On the other hand, we notice a complete surrender by Sudámá. He never desired anything from Krśńa, his sakhá [friend], who could have given him anything and everything. Howsoever he was, he remained content. Even when his wife forced him to go to Shrii Krśńa to request Him to remove his poverty, he went to him but didn’t ask for a thing. Sudámá was a greater devotee than was Arjuna.
[Bábá again paused and then continued (in reference to the second of the original questions):] Now whom should you take to be your ideal? Neither of the two – neither Sudámá nor Arjuna. You do know that neither of the two is perfect – so how to take anything imperfect as the ideal of life? Your ideal has to be perfect – so your ideal is to be the Lord and the Lord alone. No one else should be your ideal.
And you should not pray to the Lord, “Make me this, make me that; make me Arjuna or make me Sudámá.” No, such should never be your prayer, for suppose the Lord wants you to become even greater than what you are praying to become? In such a case, you are creating a hindrance to your own welfare.
What you must do is simply surrender to the Lord and leave everything else to Him and Him alone. Your ideal should be the Lord, and your effort should be towards a complete self-surrender. You should ask the Lord to make you what He wants. You should ask the Lord to take that work from You which He desires.
And if he finds that you have the potentialities to do His work, but you are lacking in self-surrender and you have not forgone your ego, then in such a case He will first create circumstances in which your ego will be forced to yield and surrender. After this only will the Lord choose you to be the medium for His work. You do know, similar was the case with Arjuna. Arjuna had the potentiality, but he also had some ego left in him. Shrii Krśńa first made him surrender by showing His virát́a rúpa [Cosmic form], and then alone was Arjuna chosen to be the medium.
(1) An affectionate name for the author, used by the author’s disciples. –Eds.
March 1963 Morning, Jamalpur
Ánanda Vacanámrtam Part 31