„Everyone wants to dance. Everyone wants to sing. Everyone wants to eat. (..) Dancing, singing and eating Kṛṣṇa prasāda and hearing philosophical discussion, transcendental topics from Bhagavad-gītā—so don't you think it is very happy?“ 1
Srila Prabhupada describes how devotional service is happily performed. To feel enthusiasm and happiness from the performance of devotional service is one of the indications that we are doing something right, but there are other measurements to test our absorption in Bhakti.
One sign of advancement is a natural detachment from matter. The more we experience a higher taste in spiritual activities, the more we do not feel the need to entangle ourselves in sense gratification. The more we see ourselves as spiritual souls, as servants of God, and not as these bodies, the more we become free from the spirit of being the enjoyer. Instead of considering ourselves as the `center of the universe`, we develop more and more the mood of being a servant. Instead of lust and greed, our hearts will be filled with love and gratitude.
„The symptom is that the two things, lust and greediness, will not disturb you. You haven't got to take certificate from anyone, "Just give me certificate that I have become a Kṛṣṇa conscious. You take your certificate yourself, see yourself, whether you are free from lust and greediness. That's the certificate. If you are confident that "I am free from lust and greediness," then I am making progress. Otherwise, [chuckles] I am again in the same, no progress. This is the test. This is test. If we want to cheat others, that is a different thing, that "I have become very advanced in Kṛṣṇa consciousness." That is another thing, cheating. But you test yourself by this process, whether you are free from lust and greediness. This is the test.“ 2
Of course we understand that bhakti is a gradual process and that we cannot become pure devotees overnight. Still, we should be able to measure some advancements. Whoever actually engages in devotional service will be able to experience Krishna's presence in some way, that's just the nature of Bhakti.
„By the result you can understand. By service to Kṛṣṇa, he will understand more about Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa will be clear to him. That is the test.(..) If Kṛṣṇa is still vague idea to him, then he has not advanced. This is the test. Just like if you have eaten something, then you will feel satisfaction. You are hungry, you have been given some food, but you cannot say that "I am eating, also I am not satisfied in my hunger." That cannot be. If you are actually serving Kṛṣṇa, then Kṛṣṇa will reveal to you. You will know what is Kṛṣṇa, asaṁśayaṁ samagraṁ mām, without any doubt, and fullness. Here is the test.“ 3
Feeling enthusiasm, having a service attitude, experiencing a deep happiness while performing devotional service, becoming free from lust and greed and other anarthas, developing, step by step, all good qualities and experiencing Krishna's presence —These are some indications that we are advancing in our spiritual life. Here is the test.
Where do I stand? And what am I going to do about it? Bhakti Yoga is such a wonderful and powerful process, but we need to embrace this opportunity whole heartily and try our best to attract the Lord's mercy. Testing our advancement and analyzing our own performance might turn out to be a sobering experience, but it is a very healthy and helpful habit. As Prabhupada points out, we might cheat others but we can`t cheat Krishna.
1- Srila Prabhupada Lecture on Bhagavad Gita 9.2, New York , November 21, 1966
2 - Srila Prabhupada Lecture on Srimad Bhagavatam 1.2.19, Los Angels, August 22, 1972
3 - Srila Prabhupada Lecture on Bhagavad Gita 7.1, Melbourne, June 29, 1974
4 - Special Thanks to Ratna Bhusana Bhusana Prabhu who presented these Prabhupada Statements in his Workshop `Accelerating Anartha Nivritti`