Śrīla Bhakti Rakṣak Śrīdhar Dev-Goswāmī Mahārāj explains the proper approach in devotion to the Lord.
Student: We’ll see if we can engage them at least in Nāmābhās.
Śrīla Śrīdhar Mahārāj: That is His will. We do not know. We must attempt our best. This is on our side. We look to our faith and leave the rest to Him. He is infinite, and He must engage them. He is benevolent and gracious. He will come to them.
na hi kalyāṇa-kṛt kaśchid durgatiṁ tāta gachchhati
If we are sincere, then backing must come. We don’t know. No Vaiṣṇava says, “I am chanting Śuddha-nām.” They will all say, “This is Nāmāparādha, not Nāmābhās even. What capacity do I have? I am the meanest of the mean.”
avatāra nāhi kahe “āmi avatāra”
muṇi saba jāni’ kare lakṣaṇa vichāra
(Śrī Chaitanya-charitāmṛta: Madhya-līlā, 24.352)
The Avatār, the incarnation of the Lord, when He comes here, He generally does not say, “I am an Avatār.” But the ṛṣis are there, and according to the calculation of śāstra, they see that at this time an Avatār should come. So, they say He is an Avatār; the signs of an Avatār found in Him. It is the duty of the Āchāryas to say whether one is an Avatār or not from the śāstra. It is already given there by the Lord.
A Vaiṣṇava does not say and cannot say, “I am a Vaiṣṇava.” He will say, “I am trying to become the servant of a Vaiṣṇava.” So much he can assert, that practically, “I want to be a servant of a Vaiṣṇava, Vaiṣṇava-dāsa. My aspiration, my highest end, is to become a servant of a Vaiṣṇava. I want that, nothing else. So many disturbances are in the mind. They are opposing me in reaching my goal that I shall be a servant of a Vaiṣṇava. So many obstacles are there.” That will be the real line of thinking of a true Vaiṣṇava. We are told like that, and we feel also like that. Hare Kṛṣṇa.
We must always keep in mind that we are going to deal with the Infinite, the Absolute. Whoever asserts, “I have got it,” is very doubtful, we may take it safely to be a bogus thing. Those that assert themselves to be big, we must be suspicious about them because the very nature of things is this:
tṛṇād api sunīchena taror iva sahiṣṇunā
amāninā mānadena kīrtanīyaḥ sadā hariḥ
[“The Name of the Lord should be chanted always by one who is more humble than a blade of grass, tolerant like a tree, respectful to others, and free from desire for respect.”]
ayi nanda-tanuja kiṅkaraṁ
patitaṁ māṁ viṣame bhavāmbudhau
kṛpayā tava pāda-paṅkaja-
[“O son of Nanda, please mercifully consider me, Your servant who has fallen into the terrible ocean of material existence, to be a particle of dust at Your lotus feet.”]
“It will be very kind of You to consider me a particle of dust at your feet.”
This means that I am a vibhinnāṁśa [a separated part].
mamaivāṁśo jīva-loke jīva-bhūtaḥ sanātanaḥ
[“The eternal soul is a particle of Myself.”]
I am not direct part of You, but a vibhinnāṁśa of the taṭastha-śakti; I am a particle of Your marginal potency, so I am like the dust at Your feet. It not even that I am similar, an atom of the same flesh; it is not that. I am not sajātīya [of the same nature] but vijātīya [of a distinct nature], a vibhinnāṁśa, a particle of dust of Your feet. Please consider me to be so. My highest ambition is there.” That is the direction we get from our masters: try to think in this way if you want to approach and make real progress towards the Absolute. You must couch your endeavour in such a way. Then, you will be able to hit the point.
30 August 1981