Sometimes when people begin practicing Bhakti Yoga, they think that by putting their hearts and energy into yoga, they will have to give up too much. They worry that those things they love and that give them pleasure might have to be abandoned.
Of course, this isn’t really the case, but as we transition from a materially absorbed mindset to a spiritually absorbed one, we often do set aside some old interests and develop some new ones. However, those things that are born of our very nature, those things that have been most important to us, can usually accompany us into our new paradigm, sometimes with only a little adjustment.
When his young neophyte disciples expressed concern about how they could maintain themselves—being monks—our teacher, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, would reassure them that Krishna knew their heart and would not abandon them. “Krishna maintains the birds and monkeys, so why He won’t maintain his devotee?” And of course, He did maintain them. In those early years we also often heard Srila Prabhuapda say, “Krishna fulfills your desires.” And very often, He did that as well, though not always as we had anticipated.
I was reminded of this recently. I’m a book designer, and one of my publishing clients, Barry Lane, is a very creative Vermonter who instructs teachers on how to facilitate creativity in their young students. Talking one day with Barry, he told me that he had filmed Larry Marsden telling the story of Agnideva (his birth brother, my godbrother) and his dream of singing with Stevie Wonder.
Please watch this short video made by Barry. As the credits run listen to hear the Maha Mantra in the background of the song.
In Bhagavad-gita 18.2, Krishna says, “The giving up of activities that are based on material desire is what great learned persons call the renounced order of life. And giving up the results of all activities is what the wise call renunciation.”
In the purport, Srila Prabhupada explains that the performance of activities for material results [fame, wealth, etc.] should be given up. But activities leading to advanced spiritual knowledge are not to be given up. These latter activities are performed as loving service to the Supreme. When you love someone you want to please them and, they, in turn, want to please you.
Alvin Marsden (Agnideva das) had set aside his material desire to be a famous singer/songwriter when he joined the spiritual path that captured his heart (Bhakti Yoga). He dovetailed his propensity for making music into joyfully singing kirtan (call and response singing of mantras). Using his talent, and without material desire, in time he did become famous—not as a pop/rock singer, but as a kirtaniya (kirtan leader). And Krishna, out of affection for His devotee, fulfilled his long-time desire to sing with the musical inspiration of his youth, Stevie Wonder.
Prabhupada many times told us, “If you take even one step toward Krishna, He will take 10 toward you.” We never have to fear that by following Bhakti Yoga we will lose anything.
“The Supreme Lord, Sri Krishna, is the maintainer of all, in both the transcendental and material worlds. He is the life and friend of all because there is eternally natural affection and love between the living entities and the Lord. He is the one friend and well-wisher for all, and He is one without a second. The Lord maintains all the living entities everywhere by His six transcendental opulences, for which He is known as Bhagavan, or the Supreme Personality of Godhead.” —His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Srimad Bhagavatam 3.9.22, purport
Here you can listen to some Agnideva dasa kirtans.