Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj explains that the surrendered soul’s sentiments and service go beyond ‘thanking’ the Lord and the devotees.
Srila Sridhar Maharaj: What is the meaning of the word thank? Whenever you depart, you always use this word, but I do not like this word very much.
Student: Thank expresses gratefulness.
Srila Sridhar Maharaj: Gratefulness?
Student: We feel grateful.
Srila Sridhar Maharaj: To thank means to express gratefulness? Then it presupposes, like dan [gift], that one is an owner or proprietor of something. Thanking presupposes the existence of a second party. Is it not? “I am a separate party, I have got something, and in return I express my gratefulness.” But are you a separate party? We are all one party of Mahaprabhu. He he he. “Thank you” and other expressions of gratitude do not make a good impression in my heart.
Student: What should be the real sentiment?
Srila Sridhar Maharaj: That we are highly benefitted. Something like that.
Student: A disciple should try repay his spiritual master, and in the Bhagavatam …
Srila Sridhar Maharaj: I say otherwise. One must not think that he possesses property or other persons. He should think that everything is the property of his Guru and everyone is a servant of his Guru. We heard our Guru Maharaj say, “I should have done all the work. It is my duty to do everything for my master. But I cannot do so; I am unfit. So Krishna has sent so many persons to help me. They are extensions of my Guru who have come to help me in my work.”
Prabhupad used to see his disciples as Gurus in the right plane, and he said, “When I chastise a disciple, that is my pralapita vakya (artificial temperament).” Mahaprabhu also told to Sanatan, “Whatever I am saying to you is all my pralap.” Pralap means a madman’s speech. “I don’t know the meaning of all these expressions, but I feel strongly that Krishna, to grace you, is sending this flow through Me.” Prabhupad often said, “When I say that I know everything, that I can teach you, that I am superior to you, that is my pralap [babble]. I am beside myself when I speak this way. In reality, you are all extensions of my Guru who come to help me in my futile attempt of service to my Guru and Krishna.”
There is always direct and indirect vision. At least by indirect vision, we shall see that everyone is a servant of my Guru and Krishna. I may be a leader, a leader of a clan or group. My Guru Maharaj may have appointed me to lead a group, but the members of the group are not dirt beneath me, or meant only to serve me. They are servitors of my Gurudev and Krishna. We are to see in this way. Hare Krishna.
Am I clear? That will be more real thinking. Hare Krishna. It is awkward to think my followers are my servants or my property. Ishavasyam (Iu: 1): Krishna is everywhere; everything belongs to Krishna and those who are His own. I still cannot claim to become one of His own at the bottom of our heart, but what can I do? I must use whatever little capacity I have to serve Krishna as I am ordered and expected to by my Guru. That will be my solace and consolation.