The proverb “Practice makes it perfect”, holds true for all habits – be it good or bad. So it is very important that we have a constant check on ourselves, on whatever things we see, hear and do in our day to day lives. Bad habits in particular enter very stealthily into our life and before we even realise the impact, they sometimes just become a part of our life and we become so addicted to it that later it becomes very difficult to give it up. Bad habits are like cancer. If detected at early stage, it is easy to get rid of them. If we detect them only at later stage, then by that time, they would have completely ruined our life. Looking at the degraded state of life that is existing now, our beloved spiritual master H H Mahavishnu Goswami Maharaj used to tell us how he used to feel that his childhood days (70 to 80 years ago) are like Satya yuga – free from polluted ideas and polluted atmosphere. He had such an innocent life that when he went to London at the age of forty years or so, he had to refer to dictionary to find out what is the meaning of ‘illicit sex’. During our childhood, we should say atleast we were bit fortunate as the surroundings or circumstances which could make us cultivate bad habits were bit less. At the maximum, we could fall a prey to watching televisions or listening to mundane music. But nowadays we are more prone to bad habits through the forms of Kaliyuga advancements like mobiles and internets.
Formerly people were all well connected and leading peaceful, happy life even without phone and mobiles. But now-a-days we find that mobile has become as important as water or air and everyone owns it. As the saying goes, “utility is principle”. But unfortunately people keep using them even when they are “mobile” (driving, crossing the road etc), and as a result cause great havoc to their own life as well as to other’s lives. Same is true with internet. Every modern advancement or technology, really drags us away from Krishna if we are not alert or cautious enough. Nowadays social networking groups in internet have become so rampant that, it has directly and indirectly increased the urge of people to gossip, exhibitionism, curiosity to see and know other’s comments, hankering for praise and ultimately wastage of time for self and others. We buy mobiles, computers, laptops etc initially in the pretext of doing our prescribed duties or for devotional service. But whether we are really using these things for the same, is a honest question which we need to ask ourselves. In fact knowing the alluring nature of these things and our weak mind, Maharaj used to insist that even when we are studying scriptures, we should as far as possible use the books and not use electronic items.
Once there was a wealthy man who requested an old sage to wean his son away from his bad habits. The sage took the boy for a stroll through a garden. Stopping suddenly he asked the boy to pull out a tiny plant growing there.The boy held the plant between his thumb and forefinger and pulled it out. The old man then asked him to pull out a slightly bigger plant. The boy pulled hard and the plant came out, roots and all. “Now pull out that one,” said the old man pointing to a bush. The boy had to use all his strength to pull it out.
“Now take this one out”, said the old man, indicating a guava tree. The boy grasped the trunk and tried to pull it out. But it would not budge. “It’s impossible,” said the boy, conceding defeat.
“So it is with bad habits,” said the sage. “When they are young it is easy to pull them out but when they take hold, it becomes impossible to uproot them.”
This meeting with the old man changed the boy’s life.
Moral: Don’t wait for bad habits to grow in you, drop them while you have control over it else they will get control you.
How to curb or wean away these bad habits? While offering the prayers to Supreme Lord, the personified Vedas say in Srimad Bhagavatam verse 10.87.16
iti tava surayas try adhipate ‘khila loka mala
kshapana kathaamrtaabdhim avagaahya tapaamsi jahuh
kim uta punah sva dhaama vidhutaashaya kaala gunaah
parama bhajanti ye padam ajasra sukhaanubhaavam
“Therefore, O master of the three worlds, the wise get rid of all misery by diving deep into the nectarean ocean of topics about You, which washes away all the contamination of the universe. Then what to speak of those who, having by spiritual strength rid their minds of bad habits and freed themselves from time, are able to worship Your true nature, O supreme one, finding within it uninterrupted bliss?“
Names and topics of Krishna are “jagat pavitram” and only by taking shelter of these we will be able to get rid of all our bad habits. Many a times we have doubt whether it is possible for devotional service to wean out the bad habits from the root. The answer is that if we are careless about the bad habits, then we will not be able to get rid of it. But when we sincerely want to get rid of those habits, accept our inability and sincerely pray to Krishna and endeavour to get rid of them, then the all-merciful Lord, washes away all our sins and help us to experience uninterrupted bliss.
Krishna also assures in Bhagavad Gita verse 2.49 that only by devotional service we can keep the bad habits at bay.
durena hy avaram karma / buddhi yogaad dhananjaya
buddhau sharanam anviccha / krpanaaha phala hetavah
“O Dhananjaya, keep all abominable activities far distant by devotional service, and in that consciousness surrender unto the Lord. Those who want to enjoy the fruits of their work are misers.”
I pray at the lotus feet of Srila Gurudeva, Srila Prabhupada and Sri Krishna so that I don’t become callous to bad habits and use my senses honsetly in Their service, without misusing them.
Thank you very much.
Yours in service of Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudeva,
Sudarshana devi dasi.