In Sri Gita (13.8-12), Sri Krishna says, “The objective of all philosophies is to know the Absolute Truth (Bhagavan Sri Krishna), tattva jnana artha darshana.”
Sri Krishna then explains how one can acquire this transcendental knowledge by cultivating 20 sattvika qualities beginning with humility, pridelessness, nonviolence, tolerance, and simplicity, amanitvam adambitvam, ahimsa ksantir arjavam. (BG 13.8)
Among all these methods and qualities, humility is the most important asset for attaining Krishna prema. Humility invites bhakti into our hearts. Then by continual thoughts, feelings and expressions of divine humility, Bhakti-devi will luxuriantly grow more and more.
Humility is not just a posture or behavior; it’s a radiance from a heart duly purified by bhakti. In one sense, devotion means humility, for without it there is no devotion! By nature a true devotee is an abode of humility.
Such a humble one will always feel anxiety and ever-increasing impatience to attain Radha Govinda; “I must see You, O Master and Mistress of my life. Please show Yourselves to me!”
Chinese philosophers say humility is the capacity to experience awe and wonder. Thus, a truly humble person will be attracted, amazed and appreciative of the beauty and grandeur manifested by Krishna, Nature, other devotees, fellow human beings, and other creatures as well. Whereas a proud person perceives the greatness of oneself alone and no others.
Ego and humility go ill together. Ego present, humility gone. Humility present, ego gone—forever! Thus everywhere at all times, a sadhaka must remain humble in mind, feelings, words and dealings with all others.
Sri Sanatana Goswami defines humility (dainya) thus: “Humility is a state in which, despite possessing all good qualities, one always thinks of oneself (buddhih sada atmani) as being exceptionally unqualified, wretched and inferior. An intelligent person should carefully cultivate speech, behavior, and thinking that fixes one in utter humility, and avoid anything standing in the way of it.
“Ordinary mundane humility can be developed by human effort. However, there is another type which is transcendental, and that humility comes by the mercy of Bhagavan Sri Krishna. And when humility is fully mature, Krishna prema develops without limit, paripakena dainyasya, premajasram vitanyate.” (Brhad Bh. 2.5.222-224)
Our Gaudiya Vaisnava Namacharya Srila Haridasa Thakura is a most sterling example of humility. Throughout his life, Haridasa Thakura chanted his three lacs daily quota of Hare Krishna maha-mantra japa without fail. In addition, he vigorously preached Krishna consciousness to everyone he met, including brahmanas whom he taught the intricacies of nama-tattva and bhagavat-tattva.
At the very end of his life, however, Sri Haridasa Thakura was so weak and frail that he was just lying on floor, fasting and chanting. Upon seeing his condition, Mahaprabhu said, “Since you are very old, Haridasa, you may now reduce your daily japa-sankhya because you have fully attained your spiritual body, siddha deha: prabhu kahe vrddha haila sankhya alpa kara siddha-deha tumi.” (Cc. 3.11.24)
With the utmost realized humility, Srila Haridasa Thakura replied, “O Mahaprabhu! I was born without any caste, and my body is most offensive. I always engage in bad activities. Thus I am the lowest and most sinful, hīna-jāti janma mora nindya-kalevara, hīna-karme rata muñi adhama pāmara.
“Although I should not be seen or touched, Mahaprabhu You have saved me from hell and delivered me to Vaikuntha, drshya, asprshya more angikara kaila, raurava ha-ite kadi, more vaikunthe cadaila.” (Cc. 3.11.27-28)
In this pastime, Haridasa Thakura exhibits the perfection of humility to inspire all of us, children of the Kali age. By reading and reflecting upon such astonishingly humble words from the hearts of the realized and praying for their mercy, we the proud egotists, aspiring for love divine, will find the mercy and strength we need to finally drop all our falsities to live in the humble realm of the sweet lovers of Shyama.
Jai Haridasa Thakura ki jai! Dainya bhava ki jai! Radha Govinda prema seva ki jai! Jaya Jaya Sri Radhe!