It’s that time of the year again when people across the US gather together to thank God for his bounty: Thanksgiving Day! A happy time for gratitude, celebration and appreciation of all that God continues to do for us.
In India too, this time of the year is a festive season signaling gratitude-based celebrations of the Lord. The Annabhishekham utsav is performed in Shiva temples across the country during this month, where large quantities of food are offered to Lord Shiva as an appreciation of His grace that paved the way for a good harvest. This is also the time of the year when the “thanksgiving” Annakuta utsav was performed to Lord Krishna in the form of the Govardhana mountain by the Gopas of Vrindavan, which led to the wonderful lila of Lord Krishna lifting the mountain to protect His darling devotees and cows from the wrath of Indra.
Showing gratitude to the Lord is vital for us. But have we ever realized that the reverse is also true? When a person’s devotion and love towards Him is truly selfless, the Lord’s compassionate heart melts and He—the One who is Omniscient, Omnipotent and the Maker of the world—Himself feels extremely grateful to His devotee!
Unbelievable or weird it may sound, but nevertheless, true it is!
When Hanuman came back triumphantly to Lord Rama after having located Sita and reassured her of Rama’s love and determination to rescue her, Rama had no words to thank Hanuman. Extremely moved with Hanuman’s selfless act while endangering his own life, and unable to find an adequate way to show His appreciation of Hanuman’s achievement, Rama simply embraced Hanuman out of gratitude and love. And today, the whole world worships Hanuman as much as it worships Rama.
As Vamana, the Lord was so grateful for King Mahabali’s completely selfless surrender that not only did He send him to the most beautiful and comfortable of all worlds, but He Himself decided to stand guard at Bali’s gate.
In fact, the Lord’s heart is so delicate that He is touched even if we simply call out His name sincerely. When Draupadi was in dire trouble and being disrobed in the court of the Kauravas, all the great warriors around her simply hung their heads helplessly in shame. It was then that she raised her hands and cried out “Govinda!”
At that moment, not only did Lord Krishna, who was not present there physically, come immediately to her aid by sending her an unending store of colorful clothes, but it seems He felt extremely indebted to her for calling out His name; so indebted that he felt obliged to stand by her side henceforth in every difficulty she and her family faced in their lives: the visit of Durvasa when the Pandavas were in exile, when – instigated by Duryodhana – Bhishma took the oath to kill all the Pandavas during the Mahabharata war, and even when the Pandava lineage was threatened by Aswatthama’s brahmastra aimed at Pariskshit.
Earlier in his life, Krishna, who is Himself the Teacher of the world and who needs no teacher, still studied under a Guru, Sage Sandeepani. And the Lord was so grateful to his Guru that he even brought back the sage’s son from the abode of Yama as his guru dakshina.
Again Krishna was so grateful to Sudama for his untainted devotion and friendship, and for the meager handful of love-filled flattened rice that he brought for Him, that He showered him with untold riches without being asked for it.
Gratitude is an inherent characteristic of the Lord. In every avatar the Lord has demonstrated, in various ways, His own thankfulness for a true devotee’s love.
The Lord pines constantly for our love, but most of us people of the world are so preoccupied with ourselves that we are cruelly unaware of His yearning. No wonder then that when someone displays that rare, selfless love towards Him, He is indeed grateful to him/her.
This Thanksgiving, while we thank God for all the favors He has granted us, let us also remember the Lord’s own gratitude for His devotees, and pray that one day, we too make ourselves worthy of that immense gratitude and grace of the Lord.
Nisha Giri, Houston, TX