Gratitude for God’s Gifts
By Giriraj Swami

If we are at all aware of how dependent we are on God—for the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, and the very ability to eat and drink and breathe, to think and feel and will, and to walk, talk, and sense—we will feel grateful and want to reciprocate God’s kindness. We will want to do something for He (or She or They) who has done, and continues to do, so much for us.

Often we take things for granted until we lose them. I use my right hand to chant on meditation beads, and one morning I found that I had severe arthritic pain in my hand and could no longer use it for chanting. I had taken the use of my hand for granted, but when its use was lost, I resolved to never take my hand for granted and to always use it in the best way in God’ service.

How, in a general sense, can we attempt to return some of God’s favor, some of God’s care—and love—for us? In a talk, my spiritual master, Srila Prabhupada, gave one answer:

“Whatever you have got by pious or impious activities, you cannot change. But you can change your position, by Krsna consciousness. That you can change. Other things you cannot change. If you are white, you cannot become black, or if you are black, you cannot become white. That is not possible. But you can become a first-class Krsna conscious person. Either you are black or white, it doesn’t matter. This is Krsna consciousness. Therefore our endeavor should be how to become Krsna conscious. Other things we cannot change. This is not possible.

tasyaiva hetoh prayateta kovido
na labhyate yad bhramatam upary adhah
tal labhyate duhkhavad anyatah sukham
kalena sarvatra gabhira-ramhasa
[SB 1.5.18]

Kalena, by time, you will get whatever you are destined. Don’t bother about so-called economic development. So far as food is concerned, Krsna is supplying. Eko bahunam yo vidadhati kaman. He is supplying even cats and dogs and ants. Why not you? There is no need of bothering Krsna, ‘God, give us our daily bread.’ He will give you. Don’t bother. Try to become very faithful servant of God. ‘Oh, God has given me so many things. So let me give my energy to serve Krsna.’ This is required. This is Krsna consciousness. ‘I have taken so much, life after life, from Krsna. Now let me dedicate this life to Krsna.’ This is Krsna consciousness. ‘I will not let this life go uselessly like cats and dogs. Let me utilize it for Krsna consciousness.’”

I pray that I will dedicate this life and everything that I have—everything that God has given me—fully in God’s service, following His pure devotees.

manasa, deho, geho, yo kichu mora
arpilun tuya pade, nanda-kisora

“Mind, body, and home, whatever may be mine, I surrender at Your lotus feet, O youthful son of Nanda [Krsna]!” (Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Saranagati)