Listen to the story of Raghunandan Thakur, a dearly beloved figure in Bhakti Yoga community who lived in a remote village in Bengal. The legend goes that one day, his father, Mukunda Das who was also a very elevated Bhakti Yogi devoted to Krishna, had to go somewhere for work. He called Raghunandan, who was only a small child at the time, and said “This deity has been worshipped by my father and his father and his father and on and on for many generations. Just as your mother feeds you and I every day, so also, he must be fed. I want to be sure to give Him something to eat.” Having thus explained to Raghunandan that it was a very big responsibility, and he should be very careful in carrying it out, he left.
When it was time for lunch, little Raghunandan offered the food that was prepared to the deity, trying to imitate his father the best he could. However, he became very worried and morose when he saw that the deity had not eaten his offering. After some time, in his simplicity and with tears in his eyes, he said to the deity, “Please eat..Eat..” Krishna is controlled by love, and so He did as the child told Him and ate everything on the plate without leaving a grain of rice.
When Mukunda Das returned, he asked the boy to bring him the Prasadam from the offering he had made. The child answered, “Father, He ate everything and left no remnants.”
Mukunda was astonished. Raghunandan was not naughty and always spoke the truth. “How could it be that the deity actually ate the offering” he wondered to himself what really happened. Even after a few days he could not stop musing about this matter and finally decided to try and discover the truth. He once again requested Raghunandan to make an offering while he was gone for the day, but this time after he left the house, he returned and hid to watch what his son would do.
Raghunandan was very happy to serve Gopinath again. Like before he brought all the food to the deity and placing a sweet Laddu in its hand, said very earnestly “Eat! Eat!”. While Gopinath was eating, he saw Mukunda Das peeping from his hiding spot. He froze as He was with a half-eaten laddu in His hand.
Seeing this extraordinary sight, Mukunda embraced his child and, as tears of joy rained from his eyes, spoke to him and glorified him in a faltering voice overcome with ecstatic love and deep transcendental emotions. To this day, fortunate people come to village called Shrikhanda to see the half-eaten laddu in Gopinath’s hand.
The incident illustrates the nature of Bhakti, and the relationship between God and His devotees. On this path, no great scholarship is necessary. Nor the need to perform various elaborate rites or rituals or to perform severe austerities and undergo many physical and mental exercises. What is required, is sincerity, the desire simply to love and to serve without any material calculations, free of hypocrisy and deceit, innocent and childlike. When we are able to really open our hearts, we create a fitting space for divine grace to rain on us and for love of God to bloom, filling our lives and the lives of all those around us with unparalleled beauty, joy and ultimate satisfaction of our soul’s innermost desire.