Success in one field can’t compensate for failure in another


In today’s work-centered culture, some people achieve stupendous success in their professional lives – but often at great cost to their personal lives. Their relationships with their spouses and children deteriorate to the point of disruption, even destruction. They are left lamenting: “What is the point of it all? What have I really gained? For whom did I work so hard?” Too late do they recognize that success in one field cannot compensate for failure in another field.

Just as excess can disturb our professional-personal balance, similarly, excess can disturb our material-spiritual balance. At the start of the Bhagavad-gita, Arjuna on seeing the two armies arrayed on the battlefield of Kurukshetra perceived that victory in the war would cost the lives of his kith and kin, including his venerable elders such as his grandsire and his martial teacher. That realization pierced his heart with an acute existential angst that made everything seem pointless. He declared (02.08) the futility of the most spectacular success that a warrior at those times could aspire for: sovereignty over not just the whole earth but also the celestial realm. Even such an achievement would not dissipate the grief that was drying up his senses.

A similar material-spiritual imbalance frequently threatens us in today’s world. Contemporary culture often pressurizes us into pursuing material things endlessly, making us feel that we can’t spare any time for spiritual growth. But success in material life can’t compensate for failure in spiritual life. Moderate success in the various aspects of our life is far more meaningful and fulfilling than lop-sided success in just one aspect.

Bhakti-yoga offers an inclusive vision of God who can be served through life’s various aspects. By practicing bhakti-yoga, we can infuse our whole life with a mood of devotion, thereby paving the way to all-round success.