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NITAAI-Veda.nyf > All Scriptures By Acharyas > Bhaktivinoda Thakura > Bhaktivinoda Vani Vaibhava > Bhaktivinoda Vani Vaibhava Part 2 and 3 > Vol 2 Abhidheya > Service to the Vaisnavas

60- Service to the Vaisnavas


1. Should a person aspiring for Krsna's mercy see differences among Vaisnavas?


I will recognise the Vaisnavas as they are according to their qualification and offer my respect to them. Then I will certainly achieve their mercy, which is the secret of all perfection.

{Kalyana-kalpataru, Song 7)


2. Can one achieve the result of serving a devotee by mistakenly serving a nondevotee as a devotee?


Do not think that if we serve the non-devotees by considering them devotees that we will achieve the result of serving devotees.

{Sajjana Tosanl 5/5)


3. Is serving the living entities and serving the Vaisnavas the same?


If one serves all living entities by considering them Vaisnavas, one gets only the result of serving living entities. Such service cannot be called service to Vaisnavas who are attached to chanting the holy names. Vaisnava-seva is the path prescribed by Srlman Mahaprabhu. {Sajjana Tosanl 6/1)


4. Can we achieve the result of vaisnava-sevd by feeding pseudo Vaisnavas greedy after opulent food, wealth, and disciples?


The present custom in holy places is extremely harmful. There, one person goes out and invites one hundred Vaisnavas for lunch. After receiving such an invitation, these Vaisnavas immediately give up their respective duties and decorate themselves with tilaka. Then they begin to manifest symptoms of devotional service, thinking, "Today we will get sufficient purls and mdlpuris and also some daksind." In Sri Bhakti-rasdmrta-sindhu, Sri Rupa GosvamI has not accepted these activities as devotional service. Therefore, if these activities are not devotional service, then the performers of such activities cannot be accepted as Vaisnavas. (Sajjana Tosanl 6/1)


5. Is feeding the descendants of the Supreme Lord vaisnava-sevd'! Is there any need to give special honor to these Vaisnavas because they claim to be descendents of the Supreme Lord?


Nowadays, the system in holy places is that when someone wishes to serve Vaisnavas, he invites one of the descendants of the Lord (Nityananda-varhsa or Advaita-varhsa), cooks opulent foodstuffs, then invites other Vaisnavas and feeds them all. We cannot accept such activities as vaisnava-sevd. While serving Vaisnavas, there is no need to respect the particular spiritual status of any one of them. Differences in their degree of devotional service determine the superiority and inferiority of Vaisnavas. (Sajjana Tosanl 6/1)


6. With what consideration and care should one serve a Vaisnava?


One should consider vaisnava-sevd an eternal occupational duty, but one should not offer Vaisnavas food and donations  in order to gain name and fame, and then engage in activities hostile to devotional service. (Sajjana Tosanl 6/1)


7. Is offering daksind after feeding Vaisnavas part of karma-kanda ?


Offering daksind to Vaisnavas after feeding them is certainly part of karma-kdnda. There is no system by which Vaisnavas are offered daksind. Offering daksind to Vaisnavas has become fashionable from the custom of offering daksind to brdhmanas after feeding them. This system should certainly be rejected. (Sajjana Tosanl 6/1)


8. What kind of Vaisnava should one satisfy?


O devotees! Glorify the Vaisnavas who are attached to chanting the holy names of Hari in all respects, but do not degrade vaisnava-sevd by turning it into a karma-kdnda activity, such as giving donations to Vaisnavas after feeding them. It is not the opinion of the Lord to invite some renounced Vaisnavas and feed them. (Sajjana Tosanl 6/1)


9. How should one feed a pure Vaisnava and an ordinary guest?


If you must feed a professional teacher who is afflicted with hunger, you should do so according to the rule of serving guests. There is no need to show such a person special love. You can serve him with care, but not with love. However, you should feed the pure Vaisnava with love and affection, and accept his remnants with love and respect. (Sajjana Tosanl 11/11)


10. Are giving alms to a sannyasi and serving a Vaisnava guest synonymous?


An uninvited, renounced Vaisnava is called a guest Vaisnava. If incidentally any such Vaisnava comes to our home, we should serve him. This will count as a householder's vaisnava-seva. If we invite too many sannyasis, it will becomes difficult to properly care for them all and thus we may commit an offense. As soon as a Vaisnava is invited, he is no longer a guest. Giving alms to a sannyasi cannot be called vaisnava-seva . * (Sajjana Tosani 6/1)


11. What is the difference between serving a guest and serving a Vaisnava, and which type of service should a Vaisnava householder perform?


The difference between atithi-seva and vaisnava-seva is that atithi-seva is the religious principle of a householder, while vaisnava-seva is the religious principle of a Vaisnava. A Vaisnava householder must perform atithi-seva because householders should serve guests. Since he is also a Vaisnava, however, he should also perform vaisnava-seva. (Sajjana Tosani 8/2)


9. What is the proper way to engage in vaisnava-seva?


Nowadays, people are engaged in something called "festival." Many people think that this is vaisnava-seva. Actually, without serving pure Vaisnavas, one cannot attain the result of vaisnava-seva. Even if there are few pure Vaisnavas, one can still attain the result of vaisnava-seva only by serving pure Vaisnavas.

(Sajjana Tosani 4/5)



*According to Vedic terminology, an uninvited guess is called atithi, meaning "no time." Tithi means "time," and atithi means "no time" or "unexpected."Atithi devo bhava: an uninvited or unexpected guest is like God, and should be treated as such. Thus according to Vedic culture, an invited person is not considered guest, while uninvited persons are guests and should be treated accordingly.


12. What procedure should one follow when a Vaisnava arrives or departs?


If one hears that a Vaisnava is coming, one should go forward and welcome him. When he departs, one should follow him for some distance.  (Sajjana Tosani 7/3)