Master and Servant

Nov 27 2009 - Krishna Talk 99

Master and Servant We are encouraged to search for Krsna, yet we should never forget that on our own we can never find Him. It is He that must come to us. The path of bhakti is a descending process. It is super-subjective – it always has been and always will be. In the words of the German philosopher Hegel, “He is for Himself and by Himself”.

aham sarvasya prabhavo 
mattah sarvam pravartate  

I am the cause of everything. Everything comes from Me. Mattah sarvam pravartate – and everything is coming out of Me. Even search about Me also comes from Me, worship of Me is coming from Me, I am worshiping Myself and I am showing it to you all. (Gita 10.8)


nayam atma pravacanena labhyo
na medhaya na bahuna srutena
yam evaisa vrnute tena labhyas
tasyaisa atma vivrnute tanuh svam

The Supreme Lord is not obtained by expert explanations, by vast intelligence, or even by much hearing. He is obtained only by one whom He Himself chooses. To such a person, He manifests His own form.(Katha Up. 1.2.23)

In the words of Srila Sridhara Maharaja:

This one path we recommend. By His grace we can know Him - no other alternative. Yam evaisa vrnute tena labhyas. Whoever is graced by His selection to know Him, he can only know, otherwise it is impossible. All rights reserved! The only path, the srota path – grace, krpa – that is the way.

But how do we qualify to attain that krpa? If we seek after His service, then He may come to us. We learn this from the example of Maharaja Prataparudra, who desired the darsana of Mahaprabhu but was refused even when Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya requested the Lord. Yet when Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu witnessed the king's affection for Ramananda Raya and saw his humble service attitude at the Ratha-yatra festival, He at once granted him His association and service.

The Key 

trnad api sunicena
taror api sahisnuna
amanina manadena
kirtaniyah sada harih

One can chant the Holy Name of the Lord in a humble state of mind, thinking himself lower than the straw in the street. One should be more tolerant than the tree, devoid of all sense of false prestige and ready to offer all respects to others. ln such a state of mind one can chant the Holy Name of the Lord constantly. (Siksastaka 3)

Srila Sridhara Maharaja says:

Our attitude in the search for Sri Krsna should be that we are most unfit. This is the qualification for the finite to approach the Infinite. To think ourselves qualified is a disqualification in our search after the infinite. We may take the Name of the Lord, the divine sound, but the process is such that we must be mindful to that. Otherwise, our search will be in vain; our attempt will be lost. What will be the attitude? Trnad api sunicena – we must think of ourselves as the meanest of the mean, the humblest of the humble. Sincere. Our forbearance must have no limit.

We should be conscious that hindrances and obstacles are almost sure to attack us, but we must deal with them with humility and forbearance. Slow and steady wins the race. Our march towards the infinite is a long journey, not to be finished within a few hours, a few days or a few years.

In most instances, we see that generally a jiva takes many lifetimes to reach perfection. Though at first this may sound harsh and unpleasant, it is consoling to notice that the grace of the all-merciful Lord never ceases and the spiritual assets of the progressing jiva are never lost under any circumstances. Those that are spiritually advanced can feel that He is there. He is our best friend and He is in the background of everything. 

tyaktva sva-dharmam caranambujam harer
bhajann apakvo ’tha patet tato yadi
yatra kva vabhadram abhud amusya kim
ko vartha apto ’bhajatam sva-dharmatah

One who has forsaken his material occupations to engage in the devotional service of the Lord may sometimes fall down while in an immature stage, yet there is no danger of his being unsuccessful. On the other hand, a non-devotee, though fully engaged in occupational duties, does not gain anything. (Bhag. 1.5.17)

Sometimes the mercy of the Supreme Lord may take an apparently unpleasant form, as in the story of the great devotee Citraketu, who had to take birth as a demon. However, his previous knowledge and application of that transcendental knowledge was not lost. Though Citraketu was so powerful that he was quite competent to curse mother Parvati in retaliation, he did not do so. Instead, he very humbly accepted her curse and bowed his head before Lord Siva and his wife. This is appreciated as the standard behavior of a Vaisnava.

Our guardians have told us that this attitude of humility must be maintained at all times, in all that we do – taking the Name, cooking for the Lord's pleasure, cleaning the temple, hearing or speaking of Him. It is like adding salt to a preparation – it will give us the proper result since only then are our devotional activities ‘palatable’ to Him. He may then be pleased and thus we may achieve the goal of our life – going back to Godhead. 

Yam evaisa vrnute – only one way, appointment must come from that quarter. The visa can only be granted by that domain. The passport officers are helpless, they cannot give any visa. It must come from the other world. Yam evaisa vrnute tena labhyas – yes, you may come in, you are desirable. That sort of visa is compulsory, before entering that land. (Srila Sridhara Maharaja)

The Visa

Faith, surcharged with an attitude of eagerness to please Him, is the only means through which we can attempt to approach Him, and then – and only then, He may manifest Himself.

Sraddha, sadhu-sanga, serving tendency—that is the visa.” As we have heard, Srila Sridhara Maharaja is the one who gives the visa. We may ask: Who is the appointed consul? There may be a number of them – just as one country has a number of representatives posted in various countries. But, at least for us, it is quite clear – it is our guru. Our only concern should be, “How can I please him?” For if I please him, then even though I may be disqualified in so many ways, I still have a chance for that krpa – just as Amogha was told by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu:

You are the object of My affection because you are the son-in-law of Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya. Everyone in Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya's house is very dear to Me, including his maids and servants and even his dog. And what to speak of his relatives? (Cc. Madhya 15.283-284) 

Who serves whom?

Externally disciples seem to be the servant, but internally we consider guru is the servant of so many disciples. He tries to make them fit for the service of Krsna, just as when you go to the temple to worship with certain things, so many things are cleaned in such a way that it may be acceptable by Krsna. So guru is also serving, he is helping so many persons so they may be fit to serve Krsna. He is rendering service to so many. (Srila Sridhara Maharaja)

On the other side, there are some gurus who take service from their disciples while thinking of themselves as guru, as Srila Puri Maharaja said, “If you think that you are a guru – you are a gauru, a cow.” 

Taking the position of a guru inspired by false ego, for cheap adoration, or to exploit others by taking donations, or for any other ulterior motive (subtle or gross) other than to guide souls in their search for Krsna is very wrong!

guravo bahavah santi
sisya vittapaharakah
durlabhah sad-guru devi
sisya santapa-harakah

O goddess, there are many gurus who are expert at taking away the money of their disciples, but a real guru who is expert at taking away the miseries of his disciples, is very rare. (Padma Purana)

Such an attitude of exploitation can never satisfy Krsna, nor can it benefit the jiva who is supposed to be a recipient of the highest truth. Such a jiva is then bereft of his eternal prospect. The charlatan who poses as a guru will never be given entrance into that highest realm, for the eternal associates of Sri Krsna will bar his entrance there. It is a conscious world and nothing can pass unnoticed by them. Those agents are on high alert so that no unqualified person can disturb the pastimes of the Lord.

It is very unfortunate that this kind of posturing can be seen in Vaisnava society today. 

Accepting the position of an acarya is not a light matter and should be taken up only by the instruction of a higher agent directly or via inspiration. If an individual has truly been inspired by a divine agent or has been inspired by maya to live in a fools paradise—this will be shown in his words and deeds. As the saying goes, “The proof of the pudding is in the eating.” 

The Best servant

Though he is our guardian and master, simultaneously Sri Guru is the best servant.

na ca tasman manusyesu
kascin me priya-krttamah
bhavita na ca me tasmad
anyah priyataro bhuvi

One who is explaining this secret of Bhagavad-gita to My devotees, that person he is priya-krttamah – he is most dear to Me. (Gita 18.69)

Gita is my most favorite thing, and he who distributes the inner meaning of Gita is the most favorite to Me. He who continues the line of Gita to the public, he is My best devotee.

While serving his guardians and serving us by presenting us with many invaluable instructions and insights through his spoken and written word, our Divine Master has received recognition from the higher agents, as well as from a number of nirupadhi Vaisnavas—those free from malice.

The spoken word, sound—this is the method by which a genuine Vaisnava and acarya is recognized. In the same way, those that are not properly situated in guru-tattva are revealed by the medium of sound and are then checked by those genuine agents.  

Furthermore, due to his good-hearted nature and infinite kindness, Srila Guru Maharaja always thinks of our ultimate good, although he has been used and abused a number of times. In spite of all these personal ‘injuries,’ our Gurudeva does not stop giving and trusting.

As a result of his selfless sacrifice, Sri Guru creates a unique association of sincere, loving and caring individuals who are genuinely advanced in spiritual life. We consider ourselves truly fortunate for having the privilege of association and service of such Vaisnavas.