Saṅkalp ‘samyak kalpa itisaṅkalp’is a Sanskrit word that means a vow or a resolution. It is a strong and sincere desire to achieve something, even at the cost of one’s life. Saṅkalp is mentioned in the Bhagavad Gītā and the Garuḍa Purāṇa as a powerful tool for spiritual advancement.

Saṅkalp and the New Year

According to the Vedic calendar, the New Year begins on Makara Saṅkrānti, the day when the sun enters the sign of Capricorn. In Punjab, this day is celebrated as Baisākhī, the harvest festival. For Gauḍiya Vaiṣṇavas, the New Year starts on Gaura Pūrṇimā, the appearance day of the Lord. Some people believe that every day is a New Year’s Day, as it is a new opportunity to serve the Supreme Lord. In the Lord’s abode, every day is a festival of love and joy.

On the occasion of the New Year, many people take saṅkalp to improve their material situation, such as earning more money or advancing their career. However, these saṅkalp are temporary and bound to end with the end of the body, the relationships, and the desires. Therefore, one should not give up the saṅkalp to attain the ultimate goal of life, which is to love and serve the Lord.

Saṅkalp to Do Bhakti

Bhakti means devotional service to the Lord, which is the natural function of the soul. After wandering through millions of lifetimes in the cycle of birth and death, we have finally got the rare opportunity to meet the Lord in the form of His holy name, His scriptures, His devotees, and His deities. We cannot afford to waste this chance by being lazy or distracted. We need to have a strong saṅkalp to do bhakti with full enthusiasm and determination.

Our New Year resolution should be to make the Lord our friend and relieve His distress by bringing the suffering souls to Him through preaching. A real friend is also interested in spreading the Lord’s glories and pleasing Him. Preaching can be done in various ways, such as one-to-one or one-to-many, by speaking, writing, singing, or acting.

The Lord is also unhappy with us as we are not doing bhakti properly. We are contaminated by the modes of material nature and influenced by the illusory energy. To purify ourselves, we need to make friends with the Lord and follow His instructions. The Lord will be happy if we cleanse our hearts and go back to Him. He is waiting for us with open arms and tears in His eyes. He says, “I have been waiting for you for a very long time.

Saṅkalp to Serve the Lord Every Moment

Service to the Lord can be done both externally and internally. External service includes offering āratī, preaching, cooking, making garlands, and other activities that please the senses of the Lord. Internal service involves remembering the Lord in the mind and offering Him our thoughts,words, and feelings. The Lord is within our hearts and He knows everything. He accepts the mood or the bhāva behind our offerings, whether they are done externally or internally.

We should have a saṅkalp to serve the Lord twenty-four hours a day, especially internally. Service in the mind is dearer to the Lord, as it shows our attachment and intimacy with Him. Therefore, a devotee does service twenty-four hours inside and to the extent possible outside. Unlike serving outside, there are no limits to serving the Lord inside.

Serving the Lord also includes serving His devotees, who are very dear to Him. The Lord will not accept our service if we neglect or offend His devotees.

Saṅkalp to Surrender to the Lord with Love, Life after Life

The perfection of life is to attain prem, or pure love for the Lord. Prem is the highest and most blissful state of consciousness, in which the soul is fully satisfied and absorbed in the Lord. To attain prem, we need to remember the Lord constantly, without any interruption or deviation. This requires some training and practice, which can be done by chanting the holy names of the Lord and hearing and glorifying His pastimes.

Saṅkalp to never Forget the Lord

Another saṅkalp is to pray to the Lord that we should never forget Him and His service. There are innumerable things in this world that make us forget the Lord and His service. Some of them separate us from the Lord physically and mentally. Forgetting the Lord, even for a moment, is a great loss. We should always remember the Lord and His mercy, and seek His shelter in every situation. He is the only source of our happiness and peace. He is our eternal father, mother, friend, and lover. He is our everything.

Saṅkalp to Associate with Pure Devotees

Another saṅkalp that we should have is to desire the association of pure devotees. Pure devotees are those who have dedicated their lives to the service and love of the Lord. They are the best teachers and guides for us, as they can help us understand the essence of bhakti and inspire us to follow their footsteps.

We should remember that our ultimate goal is to go back to the Lord in this life itself. If we change ourselves, the Lord will give us the strength to change others. The Lord Himself will change them if we become His instruments.

Our saṅkalp should be, “May my mind and activities be always engaged in Your service.” The highest service is to purify ourselves by chanting the holy names of the Lord, following His instructions, and surrendering to His will. This should be our New Year’s resolution. One pure devotee can deliver the entire world by spreading the message of the Lord.

We can also help others to attain the same goal. Let us make this New Year a year of saṅkalp and devotion

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