Sri Bhakti Siddhanta Vani Number Two
In this post we are presenting answers given by Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur on the subject of Guru-seva.
Question: Is the service of Sri Guru (Guru-seva) especially necessary?
Answer: The service of Sri Guru-pada-padma (our dearly beloved Gurudev) is first of all necessary. In this world, even to obtain piety, knowledge or one’s various other (non-devotional) desired ends, a guru is necessary. However, the knowledge given by all these gurus yields extremely insignificant ends. Our spiritual Guru-pada-padma is not a giver of insignificant ends. Our Guru-pada-padma is a giver of true spiritual welfare. The moment one becomes devoid of the mercy of Sri Gurudev, all sorts of other (non-devotional) desires emerge. If devotees who are fixed in devotion to Sri Guru (Guru-nishtha Vaishnavas) do not instruct us how we must take shelter of our Sri Guru-pada-padma, how we must behave with our Sri Guru-pada-padma—if they do not teach us all this, then we will certainly squander a jewel we have already obtained.
Question: What should be the propensity of the heart of a sincere (non-duplicitous) servitor of Sri Guru?
Answer: A sincere (non-duplicitous) disciple will regard Sri Guru as their Devata and their atma (Gurudevatatma, Srimad-Bhagavatam: 11.2.42). They will know Sri Guru to be their Devata, viz. their Lord, and as their atma, viz. the one and only recipient of their affectionate love (priti). “Sri Gurudev is my eternal Master (Prabhu), I am His eternal servant”—this is the ego (abhiman) and conception (vichar) of a disciple. The service of Sri Guru is their life, wealth and existence. They do not know anything apart from Sri Guru. Thinking of their Guru in all circumstances—while resting, dreaming, eating, serving (and so forth)—(they practice) Gurvanugatya (faithful subservience to Sri Guru). Thus they know Krishna’s dearmost, their Guru-pada-padma (dearly beloved Gurudev), to be non-different from the Lord—to be fully independent. “Sri Gurudev may accept or may not accept my unfit service but sincerely, with my body, mind and speech (kaya-mano-vakya), I will always remain ready to engage in his earnest service (aikantika-seva) in every respect. If he spurns me (lit. kicks me) then I will know that is (a result of) my unfitness; and moreover that my Guru-pada-padma is correct (in doing so). It is factually truth that I cannot avert (myself) from my Guru-pada-padma for even a moment if I am to refrain from becoming distracted from the service of my Guru-pada-padma by transitory mundane matters (vishaya). So that I do not fall into any bad association, so that I do not deviate from my Guru-pada-padma, my one and only prayer is, “Oh Gurudev, please mercifully accept my service.”
My hope (bharasa) is, “Even though I am unfit, he bestows great mercy upon the unfit.” By taking hope in his causeless mercy, I will become enriched with stronger ardent desire for the service of my Guru-pada-padma.
Question: How (by what means) should we engage in service?
Answer: The Scripture said—
prāṇair arthair dhiyā vāchā śreya ācharaṇaṁ sadā
The jiva-soul should engage exclusively in the the service of the Lord with their heart (prana), wealth (artha), intelligence (buddhi) and speech (vakya). The service of the Lord is the supreme good (mangal), and aversion to the service of the Lord is the root of (all) misery (duhkha).
Heart (prana) means consciousness (chetanata) and affectionate love (priti). The principle (mukhya) way by which the service of the Lord is effected is the way of the heart. Wealth, intelligence and speech devoid of heart are not able to truly (pleasingly, sushthu) serve the Lord. For this (reason), the word ‘heart’ (prana) has been mentioned first. Sri Gurudev awakens this heart. Sri Gurudev teaches (all) forms of service to disciples who are inclined towards service. Sri Gurudev speaks about service with those who desire to engage in service.