The Supreme Lord is the knower of all languages. He understands very well all languages spoken not only by humans, but also by demigods, animals, birds, insects and all other living entities. But what is important for us to understand, is to whose words He pays the sincerest attention, despite knowing all languages and possessing the ability to hear everyone.
When Śrī Advaita Ācārya earnestly prayed and called out for Bhagavān to manifest Himself in this world, Bhagavān appeared in the form of Śrī Gaurāṅga Mahāprabhu in order to fulfill his desire. When Gajendra, praying for rescue during great difficulty, called out to Him, He appeared without delay and delivered him from misery. When Draupadī called out for the help of Śrī Kṛṣṇa because Duḥśāsana was trying to disrobe her in the royal assembly, Śrī Kṛṣṇa at once appeared to save her. When in exile along with the Pāṇḍavas this same Draupadī faced the difficulty of feeding Śrī Durvāsā Muni—a self-realized saint known for his temperament—and his ten thousand disciples, when they arrived after noon unannounced, Śrī Kṛṣṇa again saved her. But how is it that our requests and prayers never seem to reach Śrī Kṛṣṇa? Why is it that He never seems to listen to our prayers?
We shall try to understand this subject properly through a few examples.
The she-parrot and the sannyāsī
A sannyāsī from Śrī Caitanya Gauḍīya Maṭha maṭha once went to beg alms at someone’s home. In that home was a she-parrot, and as soon as the sannyāsī reached the doorstep, the she-parrot chirped loudly and swooped down close to his head. The sannyāsī was unable to take even a single step into the home. Although he tried many times to tell the she-parrot in Bengali that he was a friend of her master, she paid no attention to his statement.
When the bird’s owner saw this, he told her in Bengali from a distance, “What are you doing? Do you not know he is a friend, and not a foe?” He repeated the words, “Friend, friend, friend.” Listening to her master, the she-parrot completely changed her tone and began chirping the words, “Welcome, welcome. Please come inside.”
The multilingual cow
Once, when I was residing at Śrī Caitanya Gauḍīya Maṭha in Hyderabad, there was a cow named Sarasvatī living there. A Bengali devotee used to serve her daily with great love and affection, and she thoroughly followed his instructions. Observing her obedience, a local devotee from Hyderabad asked me with great astonishment, “Mahārāja-jī! How is this cow able to follow whatever instructions are given to her in Bengali? Is she from Bengal?”
I told him, “This cow knows all languages: Bengali, Hindi, English, Tamil, Telugu, and so many others. But she obeys only instructions given to her by those who serve her lovingly. If you were to say something to her, even in Bengali, she would not respond at all, because you have not served her.”
A master controls his dog
Once, I went along with Śrī Mādhavānanda Prabhu, a disciple of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura, to the home of a well-known musician Mr. K.L. Sehgal. As soon as Mādhavānanda Prabhu touched the door, Mr. Sehgal’s pet dog immediately rushed there and was poised to attack. Mr. Sehgal, who was standing on the balcony, told the dog, “Let them come. There is no cause for worry.” Hearing his master, the dog became extremely calm, began wagging his tail and escorted us inside the home.
The language of bhakti
The same principle that applies to birds and animals applies to all living entities, demigods, as well as to all the incarnations of the Lord, including the Supreme Lord Himself: an individual gives great attention and worth to the words of those who serve him. Thus, Śrī Kṛṣṇa responds only to the prayers of those who render loving devotional service to Him, or to those who bear a deep, sincere desire to render such service. He does not hear the prayers of anyone else.
Perhaps this is the reason our parama-gurudeva, Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura Śrīla Prabhupāda, used to say that bhakti is not preached by language, but by bhakti alone. Although language is essential in communicating matters of the heart, for one whose heart is devoid of bhakti, mere knowledge of language is insufficient to inspire bhakti in the hearts of others. It is only because of the pure bhakti present in the heart that one’s words are infused with divine power. Only then is it possible for bhakti to be transmitted to the hearts of one’s listeners, and only then will the listeners feel inspired to render devotional service.