On Gratitude

In the last fifty years, several studies have been conducted to determine which emotions and attitudes are most prominent amongst the practitioners of different spiritual traditions. In almost every study, the number one result was gratitude. It emerged that an attitude of gratitude is firmly connected with and is an ultimate result of spiritual practice.

It thus comes as no surprise that Gaudiya Vaishnavism has much to say on the topic of gratitude. Srila Rupa Goswami explains that a grateful person never forgets the benefits received from others. Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakur defines gratitude as a debt that can never be repaid, a debt that arises from the privilege of serving Krishna. 

Srila Prabhupada also repeatedly expressed his sincere gratitude to his disciples for all their services in spreading Krishna consciousness. And Srila Prabhupada’s followers carry out his mission out of profound gratitude for all the sacrifices he made for their benefit.

So, the very nature of Krishna’s devotees is to be aware and appreciative of all the divine gifts they are receiving in life. 

What is even more intriguing is that the same principle of gratitude is even more present in Krishna. One of Krishna’s 64 qualities is gratitude. Krishna famously revealed his gratefulness to his closest associates by saying “na paraye ‘ham”; – “I am unable to repay you for your service.”

Thus being grateful is the natural ornament of spiritual advancement and maturity. 

While being grateful, we see that we are gifted with so many privileges and opportunities. The word ‘gratitude’ comes from the Latin gratis, which means ‘benefit received free of charge’. A grateful person realizes how much in life comes gratis, but a grateful person does not take all these gifts as gratis but tries to express gratitude through devotional service. 

Does all this mean that a spiritually realized person is grateful for everything happening in life?

Needless to say, this would be an entirely displaced utopian conclusion. If those around us suffer, and they do, how can we feel grateful for that? It is true that this world is full of difficulties for which we can hardly be appreciative and grateful. Still, in purport to Bhagavad Gita 11.33, Srila Prabhupada reveals that there is a specific plan behind this world. The whole cosmic creation gives every soul a chance to go back to Krishna. As such, there is an opportunity to recognize Krishna’s divine hand in every situation. So whatever is happening can be dovetailed in our service to Krishna. We acknowledge that there are many hopeless situations in this world, and we CAN NOT be grateful FOR them; still, we can be grateful and Krishna conscious when we are IN all those situations.

4 5 art bhagavad body book business change conscious control envy failure future gita goals God health help humility improvement krishna leader leaders leadership life love management manager mind organisation people priority question right spirituality steps story stress success swami Tips trust values war work