Vrindaban A talk with a

October 8th, 2000


A talk with a brijabasi friend:
We talked about seva, or practical devotional service. I told him that my study of the Sandarbhas strengthened my faith in Srila Prabhupada because they made it so evident that the things Srila Prabhupada emphasized are strictly in line with emphasis of Srila Jiva Goswami. One of those points is the necessity for practical service. My friend also began to glorify practical devotional service.

He described how a guru must be conversant with details of philosophy, but that one could still be a pure devotee if he only understood the gist or substance of the philosophy, bhakti. He gave the example of the South Indian brahmana who couldn’t pronounce the Bhagavad-gita properly but gained the darshan of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu because he understood its essence. The brahmana was crying in ecstasy because he understood that, even though Krishna is God, out of love for His devotee, He became His devotee?s charioteer.

My friend then described how he became attracted to his own teacher. He heard that he was a renown scholar, but when he went to see him, his teacher was simply sweeping the floor. Although he studies from his teacher and is now himself somewhat of a renown scholar, he still goes out everyday for at least three hours of go-seva (service to the cows) at his teacher?s gosala. Such service has helped him practically realize what he had been learning from his teacher because the essence of Gaudiya Vaishnavism is hanging one?s ego to: ?I am a servant.? One must therefore serve the guru humbly. Even when one becomes self-realized, one will continue to humbly serve because he will be fixed in the pure conception that ?I am servant,? and that consciousness will certainly manifest externally in practical service.

We may get so many ideas about what devotional service is but, ultimately, it all comes back to the conceptions that Srila Prabhupada gave us.

Nrsimha Avatar came to visit me to get my book. His present service is to visit temples and teach deity worship. He said that Srila Prabhupada didn’t emphasize the puja in deity worship as much as he did cleanliness, punctuality, decorating the deities lavishly, and offering them sumptuous bhoga.

He told me that his main inspiration for deity worship is Jnanivas Prabhu in Mayapur. Jnanivas emphasizes the cultivation of the proper attitude for the deity?that the deity should be the center of one’s life. Jnanivas is revered in ISKCON because his whole life is practically centered on the needs of Sri Sri Radha-Madhava. That realization really struck me. I am not satisfied with my standard of worship. I really need to put the needs of Sri Sri Radha-Giridhari first and endeavor to get them nice flowers, fresh tulasi, suitable offerings, and to keep everything spotlessly clean.

Today in Vrindaban Krishna invoked a theme: just become a humble servant.

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