Friday, March 8, 2013

Service is self-giving (Srila Sridhar Maharaj)


Srila Sridhar Maharaj on the veranda

Invite death at every point in your life 

Learn to give yourself. Learn to die a so-called death; embrace it at every second. In this political and social world everything is at the cost of life. In every duty, at every step, they are ready to give up their lives for that “do or die” conception. One who accepts such a principle of life is sure to progress. And this progress will be very, very intense. “Do or die” – you are to live with such an attitude. At every point, you are ready to do anything at the cost of your life. You will be a great success if you serve with this spirit at heart. When you are approaching that special spiritual substance, that high spiritual life, you are to invite death at every point of your life. The most intense desire you can have is to desire to “do or die” at every point in your life. The guarantee is, “I shall attain that or I shall die”.

You are to approach the Divine Sound, the Holy Name, with this spirit of self-giving. “No giving, no getting; no risk, no gain.” If you want to give with such intensity of nature, then you will be adored as a candidate, a bona fide candidate, of that spiritual world. So self-giving is necessary. Service means self-giving, self-dedication. That should be our attitude in approaching the higher plane. In this way, all the coatings of the material ego will vanish one by one, and the genuine substance from within will come out and select its own soil. “This is my home, this is my sweet home.” 



Real fortune is acquired by self-giving 

So many coverings cause us to deviate in different directions. These foreign things are taking us far, far away from our svarupa, that noble self of a servant in the highest plane of the whole organism. The Beautiful is playing and dancing in His own sweetness and affection. We can reach Him there, but we have to follow this course of “do or die” at every moment. We can acquire our fortune through self-giving and not by sitting in one place and collecting information about different places. What utility can we get from collecting that information? What benefit can we derive from it? As a master, “I sit in my room, in my chair, and I will gather different information to be utilized for my self-interest”. This kind of mentality is not acceptable. 

The process of self-giving is given by Srila Rupa Gosvami: 

adau shraddha tatah sadhu-sango ’tha bhajana-kriya
tato’ nartha-nivrittih syat tato nistha rucis tatah
athasaktis tato bhavas tatah premabhyudancati
sadhakanam ayam premnah pradurbhave bhavet kramah
[Bhakti-Rasamrita-Sindhu 1.4.15–16]

(“In the beginning there must be faith. Then one becomes interested in associating with pure devotees. Thereafter one is initiated by the spiritual master and executes the regulative principles under his orders. Thus one is freed from all unwanted habits and becomes firmly fixed in devotional service. Thereafter, one develops taste and then attachment. This is the way of sadhana-bhakti, the execution of devotional service according to the regulative principles. Gradually spiritual emotions manifest and intensify, then finally there is an awakening of divine love. This is the gradual development of love of Godhead for the devotee interested in Krishna consciousness.”)

Adau shraddha means to go forth with this faith, to “do or die” at every point in your life, not in the physical sense, of course, but in the internal sense [the ego]. 



Embrace the twenty-four hour connection

Bhajana-kriya means self-giving with the spirit of “do or die” – self-giving, inner self-giving, ego-giving. If you can adopt this process, then the undesirable things within you will disappear very easily and quickly. Then, nishta will come and you will find a continuous connection with this sort of principle in your life. This principle will act continuously in you, and other fleeting, mean desires will not be able to approach you or touch you. You will then find ruci, a taste, a real taste, for that most charming substance. Otherwise, before that continuous connection with Him, whatever taste we think we possess is all treachery. It is not real taste. We want a twenty-four hour continuous connection with that charming substance. Real taste will come after we attain that continuous twenty four hour connection in divine thought of Him. That taste we can rely on. The taste we may find when we are in other positions is not reliable, but the taste that comes from a twenty-four hour connection, eliminates all other charms of this world and is reliable. That ruci, that taste, will guide us. Then asakti comes and then bhava. There are so many signs when you get to that bhava stage. This bhava-bhakti expresses itself as a ray of the sun of prema. In this way we are to progress through the process of self-giving. 

Our Guru Maharaja [Srila Bhaktisiddhanta] especially stressed this point and attracted us to this way of making progress. No imitation is allowed as it has no good effect. We will imitate for some time, then we will make some offences that will disqualify us. This will slow down our progress in the process of self-giving. It may even bring it to a complete stop. If we are taken to the examiner, and we get a stamp of disqualification, it will hamper our future progress. So, aparadha, offence, we must be very careful about this. That circle records this as a discredit, a disqualification. The examiners will give a stamp of disqualification for aparadha – a criminal offence. It makes us unfit and will go against us; therefore, we shall be very much careful not to commit any offence. We should remain newcomers, always seeking a new introduction. We should not have a criminal record against us. We must always be careful to protect ourselves from committing any offences against the devotees. It will slow down our spiritual progress.



Learning the gift of giving yourself 

When we follow the highest object of our eternal life we must be very, very careful. This warning was especially given by our Guru Maharaja – “sevon mukhe”. We were not allowed to read much even about ordinary subjects dealing with sadhana, devotional practices, what to speak of the higher literatures. But we were encouraged by “sravana, kirtana”, hearing from the real source and doing accordingly. In this way, by serving, learn to give yourself properly. There are different methods of service: sravana, hearing; kirtana, chanting; smarana, remembering; vandana, praying, etc. Srila Rupa Gosvami has mentioned sixty-four kinds of devotional practices and a thousand kinds of devotional practices are further mentioned.



Work under the guidance of a Vaisnava 

Practices, however, are not very important. The very life of the practice is all-important and that is self-dedication, self-giving. So be very particular to learn dedication and self-giving. This means practically to work under the guidance of a Vaisnava devotee, getting ready to work under a proper agent. This will help you a great deal to learn, to practice, what is dedication to that Sweet Lord. Guidance must come from those above you. It is very rare, but it is most valuable to us. Whatever directions are coming from above, we must selflessly embrace them as all in all. This is the clue; this is the key to the hidden treasures in your heart. I will not work with my whims or serve men on my level, but I shall very eagerly obey what directions come from the above plane. This is service proper and it will be a real help for progressing on the path of dedication and self-giving. 

Once in his final days, our Guru Maharaja said to a sannyasi who had led a full twenty years in service to the mission, “You did not see me. You could not see who I am. Like a zamindar you have kept some householder servitors under you and from time to time, you try to give something from them to me. You have become a broker. You are keeping something under you, and now and then you try to give some contribution from them to me. You are a broker, but you should be wholesale mine – my agent. Whatever service you do in this world you do on my behalf as you are only my agent. But you are not doing acting according to this truth. You are dependent on those householders while keeping a connection with me. This is not necessary. You are not a member of this world. You are mine alone. Whatever I say, you should do that and not sell yourself to any proposal of this world. You are wholesale my servant.”

It is rare to find what is necessary for our progress. It comes from a higher plane and to substantiate that reality within us we must surrender ourselves to it.

viracaya mayi dandam dina-bandho dayam va
gatir iha na bhavattah kacid anya mamasti
nipatatu sata-kotir nirmalam va navambhas
tad api kila payodah stuyate catakena
[Srila Rupa Goswami, Viracaya Mayi Dandam]

(O Lord of the poor, do what You like with me, give me either mercy or punishment, but in this world I have none to look to except Your Lordship. The cataka bird always prays for the cloud, regardless of whether it showers rains or throws a thunderbolt.)

The cataka bird is a kind of bird that only drinks rain water from above. This class of bird is always looking high in the sky for rain drops to fall. There may be much water available here on the ground, but they will not take a drop of it. They are waiting for that rain water that comes from above. Sufficient rain water may come, or thunder may come, still they will not take a single drop from the earth. Our attitude should be like this. Whatever directions come from above, we shall take on our heads as our life and soul. But we shall never take any plan from this mundane world. The director, the master, the Lord, is there and I am connected with Him.


This sort of practice is helpful. We may take the holy name, or hear devotional musical chants, but the very life will be that it is coming from the above place; and “I am carrying out that order”. In this way, I may be taken above to the higher planes. I shall be directed to the higher layers and I may go there eternally. I am preparing myself only to carry out this spotless, uncolored order and surrender to it without questions. If we are sure it is coming from the higher layer, then we shall live selflessly at His disposal. We want selfless service to the higher source; not to any mundane source. This is necessary for real progress in the line of self-dedication and self-giving. This is service. There are so many signs and symptoms to indicate the higher directions descending from Gurudeva. We shall wholeheartedly embrace the directions given by Gurudeva.



Truth cannot come within our jurisdiction 

The sum and substance is that by obeying the directions from the Higher, we can make progress towards higher planes. By serving the Higher, we can hope to be selected by the Higher. We may then be taken to that higher layer if our dedication is considered qualified. If we want to go towards that high, high super-conscious region, this process of self-giving will be the main tenure of our lives. 

Revealed truth is necessary. No intelligence or reason can be applied here. If we apply any reason, we will be nowhere. A man who is expert in argument will defeat another man not so qualified, but the Truth remains regardless. Intellect and reason have no position there because Truth, super-consciousness and dedication do not come within the jurisdiction of intellect, logic and reason. We can only invite that high quest by serving, by honoring, by self-giving and by heart-giving, never otherwise. 

It is not possible to enforce, capture or encase Him by any intrigue or by any conspiracy. This will have the opposite effect and is considered as Satan in another color. God realization means saranagati, self-surrender unto Him. We can approach Him not only through self-abnegation, but with deep self-surrender. This self-surrender, saranagati  will put us in connection with the higher, nobler substance. This self-surrender, self giving, is to be cultivated at all cost. Service is to God, and not to maya, misconception. We must be very careful that we are not serving a charming form of maya  In the form of god – a godly form – some maya is coming to take us away from our service. In our present position we must be very attentive to whom we are serving.



Try to connect to where you are never the master 

Jnane prayasam udapasya namanta eva“To hatefully give up all proposals that the intellect offers to you, to hatefully throw out what your intellect comes to propose or give you.” What the intellect is able to judge and accept or not accept must be of a lower type. So, summarily, you are to reject it and understand that you must bow down your head, namanta eva. We are to approach the higher substance in this way. Try to connect with that section where you will always be a servant with folded palms and never a master. Such abnegation, such courageous of self-giving, is necessary if you want to live in the higher plane; otherwise you will become a master and reign in hell. In Satan’s words, “It is better to reign in hell than to serve in heaven.” But, in wholesale self giving, just the opposite is necessary.

Even tears and cries will have no value if the inner tendency of self giving is not awakened. Seva, “service is self-giving,” is the main principle of life in the devotee. This self giving is really meant for the higher planes and not here and there around us in this mortal world. Otherwise, this self giving tendency may be captured by the hateful things of this perishable world. Jnana, knowledge, is supposed to be very, very pure and free from doubt. The majority of persons consider knowledge to be very innocent as it does not mix with these gross material things. Higher personalities consider knowledge to be very pure, very innocent and spotless, but if this knowledge is not connected with Krishna it must be hatefully rejected.

In Srimad-Bhagavatam (1.5.12) it is written: 

naiskarmyam apy acyuta-bhāva-varjitam 
na śobhate jnānam alam niranjanam 
kutah punah śaśvad abhadram īśvare 
na cārpitam karma yad apy akāranam

Knowledge of self-realization, even though free from all material affinity, does not look well if devoid of a conception of the Infallible [God]. What, then, is the use of fruitive activities, which are naturally painful from the very beginning and transient by nature, if they are not utilized for the devotional service of the Lord?

Knowledge is widely considered as pure, innocent and spotless. But if it is not connected with the Positive Absolute Good, then it is your enemy and it will devour you. If you are to consider like that, then you will become a qualified candidate. This is jnana sunya bhakti. Saranagati, self surrender is so pure that connection with jnana, which is considered to be very innocent and spotless, is also hatefully rejected. Such a degree of self-surrender is necessary for the higher association of devotion proper. The charm of material acquisition and the charm of mastery, of knowing everything, are both rejected. We do not know anything in the Infinite, even in magnitude or quality. We cannot know anything in the Infinite. It is a flow of autocracy. What can we know?



The noble, higher, super-conscious region

Knowledge does not mean to store so many false incidents and sell them to the world for some name and fame. No! That is to be hatefully rejected – given up. But service, unconditional self-giving, is noble and will take you to the higher, super-conscious region. Jnana and karma are both discouraged. We are discouraged from handling matter and knowledge. Knowledge will not apply in that plane of dedication. That is the plane of Absolute Will, the flow of Absolute Autocracy and no rule or regulation can work there. False gathering, false storing, has no value there, no market value. No market is there! Therefore, only by self-surrender, self-giving, will you have such high quality of devotion. So, a serving or self-giving attitude is our friend. We are a unit of serving attitude, and service means to surrender to the Higher. The Higher means “uncontaminated with material and intellectual acquisition”. This sort of higher devotion swiftly carries us to His divine abode where love, beauty and charm reign supreme.


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