To Be a Servant

Mar 30 2002 - Krishna Talk 24

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The truth should be spoken in a straightforward way, so that it will benefit others. I have heard that, in the greater Krsna consciousness movement, certain women clamor to be called Prabhu. Actually, all devotees are called Prabhu, but a real devotee clamors, "Call me your servant, call me your dog." Why do you want to be called Master? Why demand, "Hey, call me Master!" and expect others to respect you? Where did we learn this, "Call me master?" "Call me your dog; call me your servant." Do not lose sight of this; do not lose sight of the service attitude.

I met Srila Prabhupadas sister. I was a sannyasi at that time, a young sannyasi, and I offered my obeisances to Srila Prabhupadas sister, Pisima. The devotees gave her all respect, but she had no demand to be called Prabhu. Today we hear demands to be in the front of the temple, then later we hear the demand to be in the back of the temple. Front, back — the problem is the demand.

Women are close to Krsna consciousness by birth, by life, by society; they are much closer to Krsna consciousness than men are. It is the life that most men do not get until we are very old. What is that life? One is protected and given some service to perform. Women do not have to be involved in arguments; they can actually live the real life of a devotee. They can easily develop Vaisnava humility and the habit of serving others. It is that last little step that is so difficult.

So many people receive some prestigious position. Unfortunately, these honored positions have sent hundreds of devotees to their spiritual graves. When there is a war, we do not expect the women to grab the bayonets and run onto the battlefield. Why would someone want to demand that bayonet? That is very dangerous. It is the natural position in society for a woman to be protected, and it is so easy to become Krsna conscious from that position, because it is the position of the servant. Men run the risk of thinking that they are in charge. In reality, they are not in charge of anything.

Nobody but Krsna is controlling anything; everyone is simply trying to whittle down the ego and discover who we really are. "I am a servant; I am a servant of Krsna. To actually be Krsna's servant, one must be the servant of His devotees. We should be saying, "Call me servant, not, "Call me Prabhu. That is a spiritual defect. We clamor for things; we want things that are not good for us. We should understand what it means to be a servant; that is the deeper understanding. To make spiritual advancement requires an appreciation for the proper service attitude, and also an appreciation for prasadam. They are intimately connected.

What is prasadam? What is our realization of prasadam? Sometimes in accepting prasadam, Mahaprabhu would become very emotional. Sometimes he would become very anxious and shout, "Oh! It is tasted by Krsna! Other times he would shed tears, sometimes he would choke up, and sometimes all of these emotions would manifest at once. If we are taking prasadam for granted, thinking that it is food, then we are accepting prasadam for enjoyment, and that is our mistake. In his purport of Text One of Sri Upadesamrta, Srila Prabhupada writes that if one accepts prasadam only because of its palatable taste and eats too much, then he will fall victim of the senses. He will be captured by maya. He goes on to explain that Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu teaches us to avoid palatable dishes even while honoring prasadam. In Caitanya-caritamrta (Antya 6.227), the Lord states:

jihvara lalase yei iti-uti dhaya
sisnodara-parayana krsna nahi paya

He who runs here and there seeking satisfaction of the palate and who is attached to the desires of the stomach and genitals is unable to attain Krsna. Even if it is mahaprasadam, we can spoil our experience of it. We can victimize ourselves with the enjoying spirit even while taking mahaprasadam. Instead, we must remember always to honor prasadam.

Once, Srila Prabhupadas plate came out of his room in Vrindavana, and I reached to take a rasagula that remained on Srila Prabhupadas plate. The servant quickly moved the plate out of reach and picked up the rasagula, crumbled it, and dropped it into the dhal. Then he took the sweet rice and poured that into the dhal. I just sat there watching him, wondering why he was doing this, mixing all the different preparations that Srila Prabhupada had left. It all became a yellow-green mixture. And then he offered me a scoop of that mixed mahaprasadam. Noticing my expression of wonder, he said that Srila Prabhupada had told him to do this to his mahaprasadam, otherwise devotees would eat it just for sense gratification. And from that day, for the next seven or eight months, Srila Prabhupadas mahaprasadam was only distributed in that way.

We do not regularly mix all the mahaprasadam together; people would think that we were mad. That order was temporary, to teach us an important lesson on how to properly honor prasadam. Sometimes, some particular conception may descend in the company of the very high and genuine Vaisnavas, and then that will be followed, maybe not for all time, but for some time, following a particular mood. The instruction was not, "Make sure you mix all the prasadam. That was not the instruction; the instruction for all time is, Do not become the enjoyer; remember that prasadam is Krsnas mercy.

Krsna consciousness is a descending process, but unfortunately we are dealing with it by the ascending process. Technically, you should not even serve yourself prasadam. If it can be arranged, you should not serve yourself. During special circumstances, it may be a practical procedure because all the devotees are very busy. We may certainly make such changes because it is practical, but sometimes that accommodation for a special circumstance may become a new standard. But is the new standard correct?

Prasadam should be given. Prasadam is also not to be served by bhaktas; it is actually to be served only by initiated devotees. Who can serve the Lords mercy to another living being? Somebody off the street who just came in? Do we spot such a person and say, "Hey you! Come serve prasadam! No, it is not possible, actually. Do you think that you can just catch anybody and say, "Come on, serve Srila Prabhupadas prasadam? No, only the sannyasis, only the older ladies, older grhasta men; only senior devotees can do that. And if someone is in maya, are they going to serve Srila Prabhupadas prasadam? No, only devotees of some devotional status can do that.

Prasadam is not an object. Part of honoring prasadam is the act of giving and receiving. Many of the younger devotees received cookies from Srila Prabhupada when they were children. If Srila Prabhupada is offering you a cookie from the vyasasana, and at the same time the temple president is at the door saying, "Oh dont worry Prabhu, Ill give you a cookie, what would you do? You would say, Ill be back for this one later, and you would go to Srila Prabhupada. Is that just so that you can say you got a cookie from Srila Prabhupada? No, that is not why. When the Lords mercy is distributed by the Lords pure devotee, a double potency is there. The temple president is also the Lords devotee, but taking the opportunity when available to connect with the higher Vaisnavas is very beneficial.

Some may consider devotees to be ordinary people, but actually, devotees are not ordinary. We can keep always the mercy of the Supreme Lord by catching the feet of the devotees. Catch the feet of His dear devotees! That is the best way to access His prasadam. All devotees in the Krsna consciousness movement should try, according to their capacity, to develop a deeper appreciation for those things that are seemingly ordinary, because we experience them every day.

Somebody once asked me how I became a devotee. I said, "Prasadam, and they thought, "Maharaja is an old, old devotee -- that must have been some high philosophical point. No, it is easy to understand: I became a devotee for prasadam, and I remain a devotee because of prasadam. What is prasadam? It is the Lords mercy. I became a devotee by His mercy, I remain a devotee by His mercy, and independent of His mercy, I am finished.