Obstacles on the Path of Devotional Service

Srimad Bhagavatam 11.04.10 - Obstacles on the Path of Devotional Service (download mp3)
by Shyamananda Prabhu at ISKCON Chowpatty

SB 11.4.10
tvam sevatam sura-krta bahavo ’ntarayah
 svauko vilanghya paramam vrajatam padam te
nanyasya barhisi balin dadatah sva-bhagan
 dhatte padam tvam avita yadi vighna-murdhni

The demigods place many obstacles on the path of those who worship You to transcend the temporary abodes of the demigods and reach Your supreme abode. Those who offer the demigods their assigned shares in sacrificial performances encounter no such obstacles. But because You are the direct protector of Your devotee, he is able to step over the head of whatever obstacle the demigods place before him.

The demigods, headed by Kamadeva, or Cupid, recognizing their offense at the lotus feet of the Personality of Godhead, Nara-Narayana Rsi, here point out the insignificant position of the demigods in relation to the Supreme Lord. Just as a farmer must pay a specific percentage of his agricultural profit to the king or political head as tax money, all human beings must offer a percentage of their material wealth to the demigods in sacrifice. In Bhagavad-gita, however, the Lord explains that the demigods are also His servants and it is He Himself who awards all benedictions, through the agency of the demigods. Mayaiva vihitan hi tan. Although a Vaisnava, or devotee of the Lord, has no need to worship the demigods, the demigods, being proud of their exalted material position, sometimes resent the exclusive devotion of the Vaisnava to the Lord and thus try to cause the devotee to fall down, as described in this verse (sura-krta bahavo ’ntarayah). But the demigods here point out that Krsna is directly the protector of His devotees. Therefore, so-called impediments become stimuli for further spiritual advancement for a sincere devotee.

The demigods here state, “We thought, our dear Lord, that we could disturb Your consciousness by our foolish tricks. But by Your mercy even Your devotees pay little regard to us, so why should You take our foolish behavior seriously?” The word yadi here is used to indicate the certainty that Krsna is always the protector of His surrendered devotees. Although there may be many obstacles on the path of the sincere devotee who is preaching the glories of the Lord, such obstacles increase the determination of the devotee. Therefore, according to Srila Jiva Gosvami, the continuous obstacles presented by the demigods form a kind of ladder or stairway upon which the devotee steadily progresses back to the kingdom of God. A similar verse appears in Srimad-Bhagavatam (10.2.33):

tatha na te madhava tavakah kvacid
 bhrasyanti margat tvayi baddha-sauhrdah
tvayabhigupta vicaranti nirbhaya
 vinayakanikapa-murdhasu prabho

“O Madhava, Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord of the goddess of fortune, if devotees completely in love with You sometimes fall from the path of devotion, they do not fall like nondevotees, for You still protect them. Thus they fearlessly traverse the heads of their opponents and continue to progress in devotional service.”

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