Srila-Sridhar-Maharaj-Glancing

The Intention to Serve

Śrīla Bhakti Rakṣak Śrīdhar Dev-Goswāmī Mahārāj explains the intention one must maintain along the path.


Our sambandha-jñān will help our abhidheya, our practice of devotional activities in general. Mahāprabhu says:

sādhu-saṅga, nāma-kīrtana, bhāgavata-śravaṇa
mathurā-vāsa, śrī-mūrtira śraddhāya sevana
sakala-sādhana-śreṣṭha ei pañcha aṅga
kṛṣṇa-prema janmāya ei pā̐chera alpa saṅga
(Śrī Chaitanya-charitāmṛta: Madhya-līlā, 22.125–125)
[“(1) Associating with sādhus. (2) Chant the Lord‘s Name. (3) Hearing the scriptures of pure devotion. (4) Residing in a holy place. (5) Faith­fully serving the Lord’s Deity. These five are the best of all the limbs of devotional practice. Divine love for Kṛṣṇa develops from even slight participation in these five limbs.”]

A slight connection with these sādhanas can give you divine love. But sādhu-saṅga means sādhu-sevā. Nām-kīrtan means sevonmukha kīrtan [kīrtan with intention to serve]. Bhāgavat-śravaṇ means again sevonmukha [it must be practiced with the intention of serving]. Ādau arpita paśchat kriyeta [“First offer, then act”]. I am hearing Hari-kathā, Bhāgavatam, whatever. Who will be the receiver? Who will get it? My master. Not myself. What benefit I shall derive from Bhāgavat-śravaṇ [hearing Bhāgavatam] will go to my master. I am not a party to that. My master is the party. I am like his domestic animal. A domestic animal is fed and labours, but the product goes to the master, the owner, and not the animal.

śravaṇaṁ kīrtanaṁ viṣṇoḥ smaraṇaṁ pāda-sevanam
archanaṁ vandanaṁ dāsyaṁ sakhyam ātma-nivedanam
iti puṁsārpitā viṣṇau bhaktiś chen nava-lakṣaṇā
kriyeta bhagavaty addhā tan manye ’dhītam uttamam
(Śrīmad Bhāgavatam: 7.5.23–24)
[“Hearing, chanting, remembering, serving, worshipping, praying, considering oneself a servant, considering oneself a friend, and surrendering the self—if devotion consisting of these nine practices is first offered to the Supreme Lord and then directly performed I consider that the greatest learning.”]

So Śrīdhar Swāmī particularises here: ādau arpita paśchāt kriyeta [“First offer, then act”]. You must keep a bond in your mind that whatever I shall acquire will go to my master. I am not the owner. I am not the party. With this attitude if we can approach śravaṇ, kīrtan, and any other forms of devotion, then our efforts will be devotion. Otherwise, they will be karma, jñān, or anything else. So we must be particular here, about the nature of our performance of devotional activities.

References

chintāṁ kuryān na rakṣāyair vikrītasya yathā paśoḥ
tathārpayan harau dehaṁ viramedasya rakṣaṇāt
(Śrī Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu: 1.2.195)

“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 to the Supreme Lord.”

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