He enters the playground only to provide drinks to the main players. He is
unimportant, perhaps you think. But what does God think? . . .

The Twelhth Man
I was an avid fan of this funny game called cricket. After being introduced to Krishna consciousness, however, I learned there are better alternatives to playing cricket: playing eternally with Lord Krishna in the spiritual world.

The other day, while scanning the newspaper, I saw photographs of the silver jubilee celebrations of India’s victory of World Cup cricket in 1983. I felt nostalgic. Squeezing and peeping through a packed crowd of many cricket fans in front of the only small black-and-white television set in my small neighborhood, I had watched every game of the World Cup with great enthusiasm. Like the demigods who peep into the rasa-lila dance of Lord Krishna to behold every minute of the divine dance, I used to stand there hours to watch every affair of the game. As a pure devotee constantly remembers the pastimes of the Lord, I would regularly remember all the exciting and thrilling moments of the World Cup. And now I was attracted to this mundane newspaper describing the silver jubilee celebrations of India’s World Cup victory in much the same way a pure devotee is spontaneously attracted to the transcendental narrations of Srimad-Bhagavatam.

I looked at the photograph of the victorious team with the World Cup. There I saw a face unfamiliar to me. He stood as a part of the winning team, radiating so much pride and confidence that he seemed to be thinking that he was instrumental in winning the World Cup. I scratched my brain failing to recall his contribution in any of the matches. Finally I remembered, “Yes, he was the twelfth man.” He used to enter the playground only to provide drinks and water to the main players.

A Spiritual quivalent

Providing water my mind jumped from cricket to Caitanya-caritamrta, the biography of Lord Caitanya, the devotional form of God. A maid servant did this menial work of providing water for the senior devotees during the abhisheka ceremony of Lord Caitanya. Her name was Dukhi, or “the unhappy one.” Lord Caitanya recognized her humble menial service and blessed her with love of God and renamed her as Sukhi, “the happy one.” This is the principle Srila Prabhupada taught us: Never try to be on the forefront. Just help the senior elevated souls in spreading the Krishna consciousness movement.

The example is given of an expert surgeon. The junior surgeons prepare the patient for surgery; the senior surgeon comes for few minutes, rectifies the pathology and leaves, as the junior surgeon completes the remaining minor part of stitching the patient’s skin. Most people in this world are like sick patients, forgetful of their eternal, joyful spiritual nature and undergoing numerous sufferings due to their bodily misidentification. As the elevated souls are operating upon the pathologies of the materially afflicted, we should do the menial job of the junior surgeon so that the seniors can use their expertise on many in times of need. Lord Caitanya taught us this principle of becoming the humble servant of the servant. He says that this humility is the qualification needed for getting His mercy.

I again looked at the newspaper. I saw that twelfth man of the Indian cricket team standing as a part of the winning squad just because he humbly served his colleagues. I thought, “We in ISKCON are a team. Like India won the world cup, we also want to win the world by spreading the holy name everywhere. Srila Prabhupada is our expert captain, and Lord Krishna is our coach. And we know that Krishna’s team always wins although only five Pandavas are fighting against the hundred Kauravas. The mission is to spread the holy name to every town and village. That will be our victory, the victory of ethical and spiritual integrity, of selfless devotion and of eternal love, and the defeat of Kali, of quarrel and hypocrisy, of self-centered  exploitation and of fleeting lust. Lord Caitanya has already predicted the victory. So if we want to be a part of the winning squad, let’s get up and start humbly serving by helping to spread the holy name everywhere. The whole world is our playground.”

Yugavatara Dasa is an Associate Professor in Anatomy and a regular contributor to BTG.