We're already the willing servants of our families, our countries even our dogs.
Why do we hate to be told we're the servants of God?
"Maharaja Pariksit attained the highest perfection, shelter at Lord Krsna 's lotus feet. simply by hearing about Lord Visnu. Sukadeva Goswami attained perfection simply by reciting Srimad-Bhagavatam. Prahlada Maharaja attained perfection by remembering the Lord. The goddess of fortune attained perfection by massaging the transcendental legs of Maha-Visnu. Maharaja Prthu attained perfection by worshiping the Deity, and Akrura attained perfection by offering prayers to the Lord. Hanuman attained perfection by rendering service to Lord Ramacandra, and Arjuna attained perfection by being Krsna's friend. Bali Maharaja attained perfection by dedicating everything to the lotus feet of Krsna." Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu 1.2.265
The Krsna consciousness movement has an important reminder for the world: we're all servants of God. You won't see throngs of people pouring into our temples every day to hear that, as people often do when all-is-one svamis flatter them thatthey're God. Since people really don't know much about God, they also haven't the faintest notion what it means to serve Him. But those rare souls who know God and serve Him say the pleasure they obtain is unsurpassed. After all, it is God they're serving. If you have to serve someone, why not serve the Supreme?
And we do have to serve in one way or another, though we don't like to admit it. We're always serving others our employers, our customers, our families. If we have no one else to serve, we serve a pet.
Though to be called a servant sounds demeaning, we serve in many ways without complaint Why? Because we have a motive. We expect some reward for our service, some love or some money. We want pleasure, something we don't expect to get by serving God.
Now, what happens when we choose to serve someone other than God? Do we get the reward we expect? Not really. Not the lasting happiness we seek. If we want that, we have to offer our service to the Supreme Person, our primeval Lord and master, the reservoir of all pleasure.
This is a simple concept, which the Vedic literature explains with a couple of analogies: If you want to nourish the parts of your body, you must supply food to the stomach: if you want to water the limbs, leaves, and flowers of a tree, you have to water the root.
God, or Krsna, is the root of everything. He explains this Himself in theBhagavad-gita: aham sarvasya prabhavo mattah sarvam pravartate. "I am the source of all material and spiritual worlds. Everything emanates from Me."
There is much evidence that Krsna is God. the Absolute Truth, the source of everything, but the best evidence is Krsna's word. Krsna's Gita has been read, honored, and even worshiped by millions of people for thousands of years. In the modern age, many great thinkers, such as Emerson. Thoreau, and Schopenhauer, have studied Krsna's teachings. Srila Prabhupada suggests that if we respect Krsna's integrity enough to study His words, we should at least theoretically accept that He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. That's what He says, and indeed, only when we accept Him as such is the Gita comprehensible. "The most secret of all secrets" was perfectly clear to Arjuna because, as Krsna told him. "You are never envious of Me." When we put aside envy, we can consider what Krsna is saying.
Krsna explains that we are all part of Him, and so our satisfaction naturally comes when we serve Him. But for many people, serving God seems intangible. God seems remote. "It's not like serving the members of my family," we say, "They're right here, and it's natural to serve them. I like to do it."
Family affection is so strong, in fact that sometimes people who have lived together a long time can't bear separation from each other. My grandparents, for instance, who were married for sixty years, died a week apart. My grandmother couldn't live without her husband. If such deep attachment can develop in sixty years, how deep must be our attachment for Krsna, who is "right here," right in our hearts,forever.
When we awaken that relationship with Krsna, the all-attractive Supreme Person, then naturally well want to serve Him. It simply requires some practice, much as a child can walk by practice because the ability is already within him.
The Vedic literature describes nine ways we can serve the Supreme Personality of Godhead: hearing about Krsna, chanting His glories, remembering Him, attending Him, worshiping Him, praying to Him, serving Him through thick and thin, making friends with Him, and fully surrendering to Him. Even if done without full love, these nine aspects of bhakti-yoga ("linking with God through devotional service") will gradually bring us to maturity in our relationship with Him.
Bhakti-yoga is so powerful that the Vedic literature abounds with stories of people who became pure lovers of God by perfecting only one type of service. Sukadeva Gosvami, for instance, perfected his Krsna consciousness by recitingSrimad-Bhagavatam, and Pariksit Maharaja, who sat enthralled at Sukadeva's feet, became perfect by hearing the transcendental topics of Krsna.
Although all the processes are important and effective, hearing is the beginning and the most important. Unless we hear about Krsna and how to reawaken our love for Him, we can't even begin spiritual life. The Caitanya-caritamrta states, nitya-siddha krsna-prema 'sadhya' kabhu naya/ sravanadi-suddha-citte karaye udaya:"Love for Krsna is eternally situated within the living entity. It can be awakened by devotional service, beginning with hearing."
We have been asleep to devotional service for so long, though, that even after hearing about Krsna, we may still feel that serving Him is a chore. Until we are completely free of the misunderstanding that we are the number one enjoyer of this world, we can't selflessly serve the Supreme. We want to be served. We still envy God; He is still our rival. By progressive devotional service, however, we gradually understand that we are never independent to do as we please. Is anyone so independent that he doesn't have to get sick, grow old, and die? Our attempts to lord it over this world are like the attempts of a person to get pleasure by bashing his head against a wall. His only pleasure is the relief he feels when he stops. The pleasure of devotional service, however, goes beyond mere relief from material misery. As our desire to serve Krsna grows, our consciousness awakens to transcendental bliss.
When we finally revive our pure love for Krsna, we re-enter our unique, eternal relationship with Him. The relationships we live and die for in the material world are but pale reflections of the immortal relationships we can share with Krsna. We can be Krsna's servant, friend, parent, or even His lover. And Krsna is so touched by our service that unlike the bad masters of this world. He selflessly tries to serve us. Such is the sweetness of pure love.
It shouldn't be hard for us to agree to join Krsna. Because God is the source of all pleasure, nothing can compare to a relationship with Him. Some devotees who have re-entered their relationship with Krsna and are absorbed in serving Him have recorded their realizations in many beautiful prayers. King Kulasekhara of South India prayed. "O my Lord Mukunda! I bow my head before Your Lordship's lotus feet and respectfully ask for the fulfillment of my only desire: Throughout my repeated births, may I never forget You but always remember You by Your Lordship's mercy."
King Kulasekhara has realized his position as servant of Krsna. and His addressing Krsna as "Mukunda" is significant. Mukunda is a name for Krsna that means "the giver of liberation." Although King Kulasekhara knows he can obtain liberation from the material world by Krsna's grace, he doesn't care about that. He simply wants the benediction that he can always serve Krsna by remembering Him even if he must remain in the material world.
We often find in prayers by great devotees that they decry liberation. In fact, the very word liberation, or in Sanskrit mukti, is sometimes repulsive to a devotee. That's because it often implies impersonal liberation, or merging into the effulgence of God, the liberation sought by the Mayavadis, or impersonalists. The devotee finds this idea horrifying. Prabhodananda Sarasvati says, kaivalyam narakayate: "Merging into the impersonal Brahman is worse than hell." Why? Because it denies one the opportunity to serve Krsna.
The happiness of serving Krsna is millions of times greater than that obtained by the impersonalists who enter the Brahman effulgence. One devotee says that if you multiply the happiness of Brahman liberation millions of times, it won't equal an atomic fraction of the pleasure of serving Krsna. which is an ocean of bliss.
Devotees will not give up serving Krsna for anything. There are many descriptions in the Vedic literature of impersonalists who have become devotees of Krsna Sukadeva Gosvami and the four Kumaras are examples but a devotee never becomes an impersonalist. In the First Canto of the Srimad-Bhagavatam, the sage Narada Muni tells Srila Vyasadeva. the compiler of Vedic literature, that even an immature devotee who falls down from his practice of Krsna consciousness will never forget the pleasure of serving Krsna. Such a person is called rasa-grahah. "one who has had a real taste."
In trying to convince people that serving Krsna is in their best interest, we are sometimes asked. "What about serving your fellow man?" People object for instance, when money that could be used for ministering to the poor is used for building opulent temples.
No one should think, though, that a devotee is callous to the suffering of others and that he's interested only in the joy he obtains by serving God. The scriptures describe devotees as krpambudhih paraduhkha-duhkhi they are an ocean of mercy, and they feel the suffering of others as their own suffering. But the devotees know the real cause of everyone's suffering not just the poor's and they know the real solution. We are all suffering in this world because we have forgotten that we are eternal servants of Krsna. The cure, therefore, is to become reinstated in our original position through devotional service.
So a devotee does serve his fellow man. When he builds a beautiful temple, he wants to attract people to come there and hear about Krsna so that their spiritual lives can begin. When Lord Krsna descended five hundred years ago as Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. He especially came to deliver people from their suffering. Therefore. He advised that everyone should make his life perfect by awakening his Krsna consciousness and then give Krsna consciousness to others. Although people today, who pride themselves on being "rational," might not be able to appreciate that spreading Krsna consciousness is the highest welfare work. Krsnadasa Kaviraja, the author of Caitanya-caritamrta, a famous biography of Lord Caitanya, says, "If you are indeed interested in logic and argument, kindly apply it to the mercy of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. If you do so, you will find it to be strikingly wonderful." There is no better way to serve humanity than to bring people to the service of Krsna.
And what a rare opportunity that service is! While devotional service is everyone's business in the kingdom of God. ifs very hard to come by in this underworld of birth and death. "After many births and deaths." Krsna declares in theBhagavad-gita, "he who is actually in knowledge surrenders unto Me. knowing Me to be the cause of all causes and all that is. Such a great soul is very rare." If we seek out and serve such a great soul, Krsna advises, we can very easily "learn the truth" and return to Him.
So when we hear that we're servants of God, we shouldn't be disappointed; we should be delighted. We should be all we can be, as the saying goes, by understanding the exalted position of Lord Krsna's servants and striving to become one of them.
Srila Rupa Gosvami, a leading disciple of Lord Caitanya's, has described what's required to attain pure devotional service to Krsna: "Pure devotional service in Krsna consciousness cannot be had even by pious activity in hundreds and thousands of lives. It can be attained only by paying one price that is, intense greed to obtain it. If it is available somewhere, one must purchase it without delay."