What is seva? Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj explains its form and substance.
Everything is conscious there [in Vraja Dham]. We should not forget that consciousness is fundamental there. But not only consciousness is there, to it is added the all-important serving attitude. Without that, there is no entrance into that plane. Exploitation and renunciation are outside of that plane, and calculative service is in a lower position there. Only the spontaneous serving attitude, be it in one form or another, can reach the plane of Vrindavan, Vraja Dham.
Our Guru Maharaj, Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati, preached against imitation to save people from committing offences. Generally, we commit offence through imitation. Our nature is to show progress to the people at large. To imitate Rup–Sanatan or other pure devotees of the higher level presupposes our pratishtha, our name and fame. So, we must be sincere to our own self; we must not indulge in imitation to get the name and fame of a devotee over our head. That will be self-deception. To save us from that our Guru Maharaj came with a plan of service to the Vaishnava.
Generally, Vaishnavas that live a solitary life do not allow anyone to serve them. So, Vaishnava-seva is very rarely found. But our Guru Maharaj arranged things in such a way that one Vaishnava is serving another, and others are engaging and helping them. In this system, everyone gets the advantage of serving a Vaishnava as well as Vishnu and Guru. So, in missionary life, in an organised life of exclusive service in maths (ashrams), one gets the advantage of serving under the direction of the higher Vaishnava, of engaging in the service of the Vaishnava. Everything is there.
The Vaishnavas tell us, “Don’t try to go hurriedly to the higher level. Try to remain in the lower position. Circumstances and the environment will help you to go up. Don’t be eager to hold a higher position. The environment will arrange that, and in that way you will make natural progress. Always try to keep looking downward. Purify your inner heart. Don’t be eager to purify the outer aspect. The internal aspect, the innermost aspect, that is all-important. Try to convert that into Krishna consciousness. Do not busy yourself with making a show of being a devotee of Krishna. Rather, give all your attention to your heart within. An external show is not very injurious, but if there is a disease within you and that comes up, it can create havoc. Try to purify the innermost part of your heart, of your existence. So, do some service under the guidance of the Vaishnava. You may not understand what service is and what it is not, or where pratishtha, the spirit of renunciation, or anger, subtle exploitation, may exist. Cast yourself wholly at the feet of the Vaishnava proper and try to be utilised by him. Be aloof to your own ego. Take it off and allow a Vaishnava to work in the workshop of your heart, allow them to handle things there.
You can’t understand what service proper is: sacrifice.
A matsara [one who considers themselves most important] cannot tolerate it when others are in a higher position, “Why should I not get the better position?” That is the most dangerous envy in this campaign. So, don’t believe your self. Don’t trust your self. Rather, trust the Vaishnava, the Guru, and allow them to handle you. You will be benefitted thereby more and more.
Guru is your proprietor. Jiva Goswami gave this reference, “Vikritasya yatha pashoh1: consider yourself a purchased animal to be used by its proprietor. ‘I am an animal purchased by my Lord, my Gurudev. He may utilise me in any way He likes.’”
Die to live. We can live thereby in the finest plane, the unassailable plane wherefrom we can never be disturbed or removed. Our Guru Maharaj laid stress very much on this point: know what is service proper. What is that plane? Enquire after that highest plane, the spontaneous flow of service towards the Absolute. That current is underground. It is the most fundamental current of the whole of existence, and it is irresistible and causeless. You are wanted to connect with that plane, and only your innermost part, your soul, can be a member of that plane.
Back to home, back to God.
Back to God, back to home.
The Krishna conception of Godhead is there in the most fundamental, the most subtle way: the flow of love, beauty, and harmony. If you can find yourself there, then all this gross dress, this coat and cloth, may be eliminated. There you are to wait.
Back to God, back to home.
That is all-important. To take the Name, to worship the Deity, to hear the class, to chant and dance, they are all forms. They all may be service, but to be service the connection with that plane is indispensable. Without that connection, practising all such forms will be like firing blank shots. They will be forms without life, without spirit. The spirit is the service. The serving attitude, sacrifice, dying to live, is all-in-all.
tatharpayan harau deham viramedasya rakshanat
“As one does not worry about the maintenance of a sold animal, so one will not worry about maintaining oneself upon fully offering one’s body unto the Supreme Lord.”