20th March, 2014, Gurgaon.
I had a needless argument with HG Shyam Sundar Prabhuji the other day on some particular service which I wanted to undertake. The result of this silly argument (all from my side), however, was a beautiful mail which I received from Prabhuji. I am posting that mail ‘as it is’ for the benefit of all readers
Hare Krishna Prabhuji,
We all know that the most important part of being Krishna Consciousness is to comprehend and accept that we are servant of devotees, our Guru and Krishna. This is extremely critical as it is the only way to develop humility and surrender within us. Only a servant will surrender to his Master and then follow the instructions.
But to be a servant, we cannot just feel it in our heart, we have to show in our action as well. And Servant’s action is service. In true spirit, Servant cannot demand a service. He should not say I cannot wash utensils but only sweep floor, so give me service of sweeping floor. Servants cannot demand from Master. We have to keep in mind that when we call all devotees as Prabhuji (Prabhu=master), then he becomes our master too. If a service is given, the devotee should just perform it to the best of his efforts and focus. If the prabhu (jiva-baddha) doesn’t know about you, you can always express what you think you are good at and what you struggle in, to ensure prabhuji doesn’t give a service to someone where the service quality towards Krishna gets compromised. But if we still get the service where we are not comfortable; we should accept it as austerity and chance to improve in that service.
Also the service has 2 basic principles – should serve higher goal (preaching) and / or should make us feel menial Eg: sweeping floor, washing utensils, driver etc; For Neophytes specially, one should always take a service which makes him feel menial as mandatory. On top of it if the master feels we are fit we could take other service that serves higher goal. Menial service is mandatory to develop humility. It helps us to develop the servitude attitude too. Sometimes when we have Gyan (jnana) and we sit on vyasa-asana, we start feeling we know everything and start expecting respect and then ahankar develops.
Another aspect is when we demand something, it means we feel we are deserving. In material life, when we demand say 5 lac pa salary, it means we are convinced that we are fit and deserve to get 5lac pa salary. Similarly, when we demand the service of giving lecture, what we are indirectly saying is that we have full knowledge and thus we become our own master.
We should also understand that we must always beg for service. Begging is important for two reasons: instigating compassion in other devotee’s heart. As a devotee it is our duty to help other devotees in their spiritual quest. Secondly, when we beg, we inculcate the feeling of: “I am not the controller.”
Now the point comes: If we know we can not do a particular service properly, should we refuse it? Yes. Everything we do is for our master and it should be first class. Everything we do for Krishna and his representatives should be top class. However, we should not use this as an excuse to avoid taking up service. We should take consideration of our circumstances – especially for Grahasthas – they should maintain a balance between material and spiritual life, but at the same time we should push ourselves to take the service and do it nicely. Generally (unless medical reasons), nobody can say they can’t do menial service. We (neophytes) are all sudras, so this is minimum. In fact, it takes a lot of effort to be fit for other services. Needless to say even in preaching service, the consciousness should be to serve devotees and our Guru and not getting recognition of our acquired intelligence or speaking skills.
Can service be delegated ? Yes, provided we too are involved into it as well. This ensures that we are engaging others in service.
I, too, am trying to implement these lessons, which I learned during my studies under HG Bhurijan Prabhu and while serving HH Janananda Maharaj. I am sharing them with you in the hope that these lessons may help you understand what should be our attitude while serving, and, eventually help you serve devotees with right consciousness.
Very fallen servant,
Shyam sunder Krishna das
What a beautiful and inspiring mail ! I read this mail many times in last 2 weeks, and while reading it again today I thought of sharing it with everyone. I pray to Srila Prabhupada to kindly bless me with intelligence and memory so that I can always remember this lesson and serve devotees with right consciousness. I remember a quote by HH Mahanidhi Maharaj
The mail also showed the me the importance to cultivate healthy relationships among devotees, based on mutual faith and trust, so that we can guide each other without any hesitation.
All glories to HG Shyam Sundar Prabhu.
All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga.