Service is Self-giving

by Çré Çrémad Bhakti-rakñaka Çrédhara Gosvämé Mahäräja



[NOTE: This page uses Balarama font (available here)
for better transliteration of Sanskrit into English]


Invite death at every point in your life


Learn to give yourself. Learn to die a so called death; embrace it at every second. In this political and social world everything is at the cost of life. In every duty, at every step, they are ready to give up their lives for that “do or die” conception. One who accepts such a principle of life is sure to progress. And this progress will be very, very intense. “Do or die” – you are to live with such an attitude. At every point, you are ready to do anything at the cost of your life. You will be a great success if you serve with this spirit at heart. When you are approaching that special spiritual substance, that high spiritual life, you are to invite death at every point of your life. The most intense desire you can have is to desire to “do or die” at every point in your life. The guarantee is, “I shall attain that or I shall die”.


You are to approach the Divine Sound, the Holy Name, with this spirit of self-giving. “No giving, no getting; no risk, no gain.” If you want to give with such intensity of nature, then you will be adored as a candidate, a bona fide candidate, of that spiritual world. So self-giving is necessary. Service means self-giving, self-dedication. That should be our attitude in approaching the higher plane. In this way, all the coatings of the material ego will vanish one by one, and the genuine substance from within will come out and select its own soil. “This is my home, this is my sweet home.”


Real fortune is acquired by self-giving


So many coverings cause us to deviate in different directions. These foreign things are taking us far, far away from our svarüpa, that noble self of a servant in the highest plane of the whole organism. The Beautiful is playing and dancing in His own sweetness and affection. We can reach Him there, but we have to follow this course of “do or die” at every moment. We can acquire our fortune through self-giving and not by sitting in one place and collecting information about different places. What utility can we get from collecting that information? What benefit can we derive from it? As a master, “I sit in my room, in my chair, and I will gather different information to be utilized for my self-interest”. This kind of mentality is not acceptable.


The process of self-giving is given by Çréla Rüpa Gosvämé:


ädau çraddhä tataù sädhusaìgo

‘tha bhajana-kriyä

tato ’nartha-nivåttiù syät

tato niñöhä rucis tataù

athäsaktis tato bhävas

tataù premäbhyudaïcati

sädhakänäm ayaà premëaù

prädurbhäve bhavet kramaù


Bhakti-rasämåta-sindhu (1.4.15–16)


Ädau çraddhä means to go forth with this faith, to “do or die” at every point in your life, not in the physical sense, of course, but in the internal sense [the ego].


Embrace the twenty-four hour connection


Bhajana-kriyä means self-giving with the spirit of “do or die” – self-giving, inner self-giving, ego-giving. If you can adopt this process, then the undesirable things within you will disappear very easily and quickly. Then, niñöhä will come and you will find a continuous connection with this sort of principle in your life. This principle will act continuously in you, and other fleeting, mean desires will not be able to approach you or touch you. You will then find ruci, a taste, a real taste, for that most charming substance. Otherwise, before that continuous connection with Him, whatever taste we think we possess is all treachery. It is not real taste. We want a twenty-four hour continuous connection with that charming substance. Real taste will come after we attain that continuous twenty four hour connection in divine thought of Him. That taste we can rely on. The taste we may find when we are in other positions is not reliable, but the taste that comes from a twenty-four hour connection, eliminates all other charms of this world and is reliable. That ruci, that taste, will guide us. Then äsakti comes and then bhäva. There are so many signs when you get to that bhäva stage. This bhäva-bhakti expresses itself as a ray of the sun of prema. In this way we are to progress through the process of self-giving.


Our Guru Mahäräja especially stressed this point and attracted us to this way of making progress. No imitation is allowed as it has no good effect. We will imitate for some time, then we will make some offences that will disqualify us. This will slow down our progress in the process of self-giving. It may even bring it to a complete stop. If we are taken to the examiner, and we get a stamp of disqualification, it will hamper our future progress. So, aparädha, offence, we must be very careful about this. That circle records this as a discredit, a disqualification. The examiners will give a stamp of disqualification for aparädha – a criminal offence. It makes us unfit and will go against us; therefore, we shall be very much careful not to commit any offence. We should remain newcomers, always seeking a new introduction. We should not have a criminal record against us. We must always be careful to protect ourselves from committing any offences against the devotees. It will slow down our spiritual progress.


Learning the gift of giving yourself


When we follow the highest object of our eternal life we must be very, very careful. This warning was especially given by our Guru Mahäräja – “sevon mukhe”. We were not allowed to read much even about ordinary subjects dealing with sädhana, devotional practices, what to speak of the higher literatures. But we were encouraged by “çravaëa, kértana”, hearing from the real source and doing accordingly. In this way, by serving, learn to give yourself properly. There are different methods of service: çravaëa, hearing; kértana, chanting; smarana, remembering; vandana, praying, etc. Çréla Rüpa Gosvämé has mentioned sixty-four kinds of devotional practices and a thousand kinds of devotional practices are further mentioned.


Work under the guidance of a Vaiñëava


Practices, however, are not very important. The very life of the practice is all-important and that is self dedication, self-giving. So be very particular to learn dedication and self-giving. This means practically to work under the guidance of a Vaiñëava devotee, getting ready to work under a proper agent. This will help you a great deal to learn, to practice, what is dedication to that Sweet Lord. Guidance must come from those above you. It is very rare, but it is most valuable to us. Whatever directions are coming from above, we must selflessly embrace them as all in all. This is the clue; this is the key to the hidden treasures in your heart. I will not work with my whims or serve men on my level, but I shall very eagerly obey what directions come from the above plane. This is service proper and it will be a real help for progressing on the path of dedication and self-giving.


Once in his final days, our Guru Mahäräja said to a sannyäsé who had led a full twenty years in service to the mission, “You did not see me. You could not see who I am. Like a zaméndär you have kept some householder servitors under you and from time to time, you try to give something from them to me. You have become a broker. You are keeping something under you, and now and then you try to give some contribution from them to me. You are a broker, but you should be wholesale mine – my agent. Whatever service you do in this world you do on my behalf as you are only my agent. But you are not doing acting according to this truth. You are dependent on those householders while keeping a connection with me. This is not necessary. You are not a member of this world. You are mine alone. Whatever I say, you should do that and not sell yourself to any proposal of this world. You are wholesale my servant.”


It is rare to find what is necessary for our progress. It comes from a higher plane and to substantiate that reality within us we must surrender ourselves to it.


viracaya mayi daëòaà déna-bandho dayämé vä

gatir iha na bhavattaù käcid anyä mamästi

nipatatu çata-koöi-nirbharaà vä navämbhaù

tad api kila-payodaù stüyate cätakena


The cätaka bird is a kind of bird that only drinks rain water from above. This class of bird is always looking high in the sky for rain drops to fall. There may be much water available here on the ground, but they will not take a drop of it. They are waiting for that rain water that comes from above. Sufficient rain water may come, or thunder may come, still they will not take a single drop from the earth. Our attitude should be like this. Whatever directions come from above, we shall take on our heads as our life and soul. But we shall never take any plan from this mundane world. The director, the master, the Lord, is there and I am connected with Him.


This sort of practice is helpful. We may take the holy name, or hear devotional musical chants, but the very life will be that it is coming from the above place; and “I am carrying out that order”. In this way, I may be taken above to the higher planes. I shall be directed to the higher layers and I may go there eternally. I am preparing myself only to carry out this spotless, uncolored order and surrender to it without questions. If we are sure it is coming from the higher layer, then we shall live selflessly at His disposal. We want selfless service to the higher source; not to any mundane source. This is necessary for real progress in the line of self-dedication and self-giving. This is service. There are so many signs and symptoms to indicate the higher directions descending from Gurudeva. We shall wholeheartedly embrace the directions given by Gurudeva.


Truth cannot come within our jurisdiction


The sum and substance is that by obeying the directions from the Higher, we can make progress towards higher planes. By serving the Higher, we can hope to be selected by the Higher. We may then be taken to that higher layer if our dedication is considered qualified. If we want to go towards that high, high super-conscious region, this process of self-giving will be the main tenure of our lives.


Revealed truth is necessary. No intelligence or reason can be applied here. If we apply any reason, we will be nowhere. A man who is expert in argument will defeat another man not so qualified, but the Truth remains regardless. Intellect and reason have no position there because Truth, super-consciousness and dedication do not come within the jurisdiction of intellect, logic and reason. We can only invite that high quest by serving, by honoring, by self-giving and by heart-giving, never otherwise.


It is not possible to enforce, capture or encase Him by any intrigue or by any conspiracy. This will have the opposite effect and is considered as Satan in another color. God realization means çaraëägati, self-surrender unto Him. We can approach Him not only through self-abnegation, but with deep self-surrender. This self surrender, çaraëägati, will put us in connection with the higher, nobler substance. This self-surrender, self giving, is to be cultivated at all cost. Service is to God, and not to mäyä, misconception. We must be very careful that we are not serving a charming form of mäyä. In the form of god – a godly form – some mäyä is coming to take us away from our service. In our present position we must be very attentive to whom we are serving.


Try to connect to where you are never the master


Jïäne prayäsam udapäsya namanta eva – “To hatefully give up all proposals that the intellect offers to you, to hatefully throw out what your intellect comes to propose or give you.” What the intellect is able to judge and accept or not accept must be of a lower type. So, summarily, you are to reject it and understand that you must bow down your head, namanta eva. We are to approach the higher substance in this way. Try to connect with that section where you will always be a servant with folded palms and never a master. Such abnegation, such courageous of self-giving, is necessary if you want to live in the higher plane; otherwise you will become a master and reign in hell. In Satan’s words, “It is better to reign in hell than to serve in heaven.” But, in wholesale self giving, just the opposite is necessary.


Even tears and cries will have no value if the inner tendency of self giving is not awakened. Sevä, “service is self-giving,” is the main principle of life in the devotee. This self giving is really meant for the higher planes and not here and there around us in this mortal world. Otherwise, this self giving tendency may be captured by the hateful things of this perishable world. Jïäna, knowledge, is supposed to be very, very pure and free from doubt. The majority of persons consider knowledge to be very innocent as it does not mix with these gross material things. Higher personalities consider knowledge to be very pure, very innocent and spotless, but if this knowledge is not connected with Kåñëa it must be hatefully rejected.


In Çrémad-Bhägavatam (1.5.12) it is written:


naiñkarmyam apy acyuta-bhäva-varjitaà

na çobhate jïänam alaà niraïjanam

kutaù punaù çaçvad abhadram éçvare

na cärpitaà karma yad apy akäraëam


Knowledge is widely considered as pure, innocent and spotless. But if it is not connected with the Positive Absolute Good, then it is your enemy and it will devour you. If you are to consider like that, then you will become a qualified candidate. This is jïäna-çünyäbhakti. Çaraëägati, self surrender is so pure that connection with jïäna, which is considered to be very innocent and spotless, is also hatefully rejected. Such a degree of self-surrender is necessary for the higher association of devotion proper. Jïäna-karmädyanävåtam, the charm of material acquisition and the charm of mastery, of knowing everything, are both rejected. We do not know anything in the Infinite, even in magnitude or quality. We cannot know anything in the Infinite. It is a flow of autocracy. What can we know?


The noble, higher, super conscious region


Knowledge does not mean to store so many false incidents and sell them to the world for some name and fame. No! That is to be hatefully rejected – given up. But service, unconditional self-giving, is noble and will take you to the higher, super-conscious region. Jïäna and karma are both discouraged. We are discouraged from handling matter and knowledge. Knowledge will not apply in that plane of dedication. That is the plane of Absolute Will, the flow of Absolute Autocracy and no rule or regulation can work there. False gathering, false storing, has no value there, no market value. No market is there! Therefore, only by self-surrender, self-giving, will you have such high quality of devotion. So, a serving or self-giving attitude is our friend. We are a unit of serving attitude, and service means to surrender to the Higher. The Higher means “uncontaminated with material and intellectual acquisition”. This sort of higher devotion swiftly carries us to His divine abode where love, beauty and charm reign supreme.


[Courtesy of Çrépad B.P. Håñékeça Mahäräja]


No 12, Gaura Purnima 2003


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