The following conversation between His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and Dr. Chaturbhai P. Patel took place in Bombay on March 23, 1974.
Dr. Patel: The other morning, when a young lady told you, “I am practicing medicine and serving people,” you said, in effect, “You are a fool.”
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. She is not serving. Of course, as they say, “Everyone is serving” – serving money. Everyone is serving, but unless he gets paid, no service. That is not service. Everyone in the material world is serving somebody. Because by nature he is a servant.
Dr. Patel: He’s serving everyone.
Srila Prabhupada: No, no. As the English proverb says, “Everyone’s servant is no one’s servant.” Anyway, service is required. You cannot live without serving. That is not possible. Every one of us is serving somebody. But the result of this material service is disagreeable. I have given before the example that Mahatma Gandhi gave so much service. But the result was he was killed. He was killed. That person who killed him did not think, “Oh, this old gentleman has given so much service to us. Even if I do not agree with him, how can I kill him?” But people are so very ungrateful – you see? – that whatever service you may render, they’ll never be satisfied.
Dr. Patel: Gandhi’s service – he was doing his prescribed duty.
Srila Prabhupada: No, actually. But first of all, let us define service. What is service? Service means there is a servant and a master. And service is the transaction between the servant and his master. But we have created so many unprescribed masters. The wife master, the family master, the country master, the legislative master, this master, that master – you see? And we are giving service. “Oh, it is my duty. I am giving service.” But ask any of these masters, “Are you satisfied?” He’ll say, “What have you done?”
Dr. Patel: The master won’t be satisfied.
Srila Prabhupada: No. These selfcreated masters will never be satisfied. And really, by serving them we are trying to serve and satisfy our own senses. I am giving service to my wife because I think she will satisfy my senses. Therefore I’m not giving service to my wife – I’m giving service to my senses. So ultimately, we are servants of our own senses. We are nobody’s servants. This is our material position. Yes, ultimately, we are servants of our senses.
Constitutionally, I am a servant, but at the present moment, being conditioned by the material nature, I am giving service to my senses. But my senses are not independent. They are totally dependent. For instance, I am now moving my hands, but if the true master of my hand, Krishna , paralyzes it – no more moving. Nor can I revive the moving capacity of my hand. So although I am claiming I am master of my hand, master of my leg, and so on, actually I am not. The master is different.
One of Krishna ’s other names is Hrsikesa, “the creator and master of all senses.” Therefore we should transfer our service to Lord Krishna . Hrsikena hrsikesa-sevanam bhaktir ucyate: we have tried in so many ways to serve our senses, but when we engage our senses in serving the master of the senses, we get the spiritual satisfaction of bhakti, devotion. Devotional service to Krishna is also service, but it is not service to the inert senses – it is service to the living master of the senses. This is real satisfaction. So constitutionally I am a servant. I cannot become the master. My position is that I have to serve. And if I don’t serve the master of the senses, then I will have to serve the senses and go unsatisfied.
Dr. Patel: Now, the fact remains that each man does have prescribed duties to wife, family, country, and government.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes.
Dr. Patel: We have different kinds of bodies and senses, also, and that gives us different duties. One man has to act as a priest or teacher, another as an administrator or military man, another as a farmer or merchant, and still another as a laborer or craftsman. And when a man does his duty without expectation of any fruits, this is as good as devotion to the Lord.
Srila Prabhupada: No, no. Not expecting any fruits is not enough. You must do more than that. You must give the fruits unto Krishna . Give the result of your prescribed duties to Krishna . You can earn a million dollars, but don’t simply take it all yourself or lavish it on your family. Give this fruit to Krishna . That is real service.
Just like you are working as a medical practitioner. So give your earnings to Krishna . Then you become perfect. We simply have to see that by our work Krishna is satisfied. Krishna says yat karosi: “Never mind what you are doing.” Tat kurusva mad-arpanam: “Give Me it.” [Srila Prabhupada laughs.] And people say, “No, no, no, sir. I am serving You, but the money is in my pocket.”
Dr. Patel: Everything is Krishna ’s. How can you give anything? Even a leaf?
Srila Prabhupada: Oh, yes, yes. Just like these boys and girls are giving. They are giving their whole life. They do not ask me for money: “My dear sir, please give me some money; I will go to the cinema.” They are serving, and they have given everything. This is service. They are not poor. They’re earning, but everything for Krishna .
If you divide your income partially – “Some percentage for Krishna , some percentage for my sense gratification” – then Krishna says, ye yatha mam prapadyante tams tathaiva bhajamy aham: “As all surrender unto Me, I reward them accordingly, proportionately.” If you have spent cent percent of your energy for Krishna , Krishna is cent percent for you. And if you have spent one percent for Krishna . He is one percent for you. Responsive cooperation.
This movement has advanced so much all over the world because we have these boys and girls who have dedicated everything for Krishna . Therefore it has so quickly advanced. They do not think of anything personal. Only how to serve Krishna . Samsiddhir haritosan am: the highest perfection is to please the Supreme Personality of Godhead.