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Seva, Sevaka, Sevya
a crowd of people gathered on the bank of a fast river and stared helplessly as
a man who had fallen in desperately floundered for his life. "Don't
worry, my friend, I'll save you!" cried a daring young onlooker. The
well-meaning gentle man leaped into the water like a brave soul and quickly
swam to the drowning man. Reaching out, he deftly pulled off the non-swimmer's
coat as he was about to go under for the third and final time. Taking a strong
grasp on the drowning man's
jacket the young man swam back to shore leaving the poor fellow to a watery grave. Beaming a triumphant and proud smile,he held the soaked coat before the crowd on the riverbank, who received him with only jeers. One horrified lady shrieked,
"You have saved only the poor fellow's coat!" Somehow the poor fool remained ignorant of his blunder as he marched off to a dry cleaner's to have the coat cleaned and pressed. The moral is that so-called "gurus" who devote their attention only to humanitarian activities actually do no permanent good for the people they try to help. It is true that social workers provide meals for the hungry, clothing for the poor, and hospitals for the sick, but by such activities only the bodily standard of life is improved. The real problem concerning the soul enshrouded in ignorance is never cured by mundane altruism, and the poor souls they try to save remain condemned to suffer their own karma in the repeated cycle of birth and death. Therefore, one should investigate whether or not the spiritual path he is considering is concerned with bodily or spiritual upliftment. Remembering the above frank example, all paths but that of pure devotion to God, which is the soul's natural function, should be instantly rejected uncompromisingly.
57) After many, many years of penance and austerity, the great Maha-yogi perfected the art of walking upon water. As hundreds of villagers gathered to watch the mystic's performance, the town's old boatman sailed by him. "Your's is a ten-paisa trick" the boatman scoffed, "for ten paisa is the price of a trip across the lake in my boat." Similarly, the bonafide guru never relies upon cheap tricks to mystify and charm a gullible following. Rather, he draws like a magnet sincere disciples by virtue of the love he harbors in his heart for Shri Krishna.
58) In order to run smoothly, a train requires two parallel tracks. Similarly, if one wants to ride aboard the "Back to Godhead Express," then the two tracks of guru and Krishna are required. Although modern science has developed a monorail train which runs on only one track, it serves to strengthen our example. Consider the following words of Lord Krishna from Shrimad Bhagavatam, "The spiritual master must be accepted not only as my representative, but as My very self." (SB 11.17.22) Because the pure devotee never concocts, but teaches Krishna's message as it is, he is in this sense, "one" with the Supreme Lord—one with God's will.
59) Sometimes grasses grow over the surface of an abandoned well and a careless passerby, not noticing the "blind well," may accidentally step and fall into it. He can be saved only by one who is outside the well and who lowers down a long rope. Similarly, if we want to extricate ourselves from the blind well of material life, we require the assistance of a liberated pure devotee who can save us with the "rope" of Krishna consciousness. Just as one trapped in the well cannot help another so trapped, so sheltering ourselves at the feet of another soul who is as conditioned as we are will not save us from birth and death.
60) Iron filings may point this way and that, but if a magnet is held near these filings they immediately arrange themselves neatly in one direction. Similarly, a great acharya arranges orderliness out of the chaos of a corrupt society. He lines everyone up on the road back to home, and marches them back to Godhead.
61) Although the earth is supported by the hoods of Lord Ananta, still it is sometimes seen to shake. But the pure devotee's faith in Krishna is never shaken.
62) Shrila Vyasadev says, krishnas tu bhagavan swayam. "Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead." (SB 1.3.28) Bhagavad Gita says, ishwarah sarva-bhutanam hrid-dese 'rjuna tisthati. "The Supreme Lord is situated in everyone's heart." (Bg 18.61). And who is that ishwara or Supreme Lord? Shri Brahma Samhita says, ishwara parama krishna. "The Supreme Lord is Krishna." (BS 5.1) And what is our duty to Shri Krishna? Lord Krishna Himself instructs in Bhagavad Gita, man-mana bhava mad bhakto. "Always think of Me and become My devotee." (BG 9.34) So the instruction is clear: Krishna is God and we are His servants.
63) In the spiritual sky one may find only seva (devotional service), sevaka (those rendering service), and sevja the Supreme Lord (who mercifully receives all service).
64) If even a great mathematician begins an equation with the wrong formula, then every operation will be faulty Similarly, it is impossible for a karmi to come to the proper goal because his basis is sense gratification. His very life breath will be misused. However no one is so poor that he cannot say "Hare Krishna" when he breathes in order to offer his breath unto Shri Krishna's service.
65) In the Spiritual Sky 1-1=1 and 1+1=1. That Supreme One is Krishna, and He is the sum total of everything. The Supreme Lord does not become diminished through expanding His energies everywhere. He remains the summum bonum or ultimate source of energies. Shri Ishopanishad says, om purnam adah purnam idam. "The Supreme Lord is perfect and complete." (invocation mantra).
66) It is a mathematical truth that 2+2=4 and 3+1=4. Things equal to the same thing are equal to each other. Similarly, there have been many saintly teachers who have in the past presented externally different prescriptions for attaining Krishna consciousness. As old wine is sometimes kept in new bottles, so this most ancient message is sometimes presented in a fresh way to appeal to a particular time and clime. The acharyas are expert judges of time and circumstances, but their ultimate message has always been one: lovingly serve the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
67) Lord Jesus said: "You must love God with your whole heart and your whole soul and with your whole mind. This is the greatest and first commandment." (Bible—Book of Matthew 22.27-8)
68) As heat and light are ever present in fire, or as sweetness is always found in sugar, so service to Krishna is the inescapable, undeniable immortal principle of the spirit soul. When the living entity perceives the absolute nature of this truth as his sanatan dharma, the eternal religion, he realizes that he has been looking for a loving relationship with Krishna since time immemorial. By the grace of Shri Guru he then surrenders his all to the Lord and thereby prepares himself for going back to home, back to Godhead.
69) From atop the mango tree, the fruit picker hands down the ripened mango to another fruit picker beneath him. High up in the tree from one worker to another, the sweet mango is handed down, down, down until it reaches the packer on the ground unharmed. This message of pure devotional service is in a similar way coming originally from Lord Krishna handed gently down from one acharya to the next. This sweet mango of Krishna consciousness has been delivered to us by Shrila Prabhupada via the great unbreakable chain of disciplic succession.
70) When you speak with a beloved family member on the telephone you have faith that the voice at the other end of the line actually is coming from your relative, although he is unseen by you. Similarly, via the transcendental wire of disciplic succession, which stretches beyond time, comes the immortal instructions of Krishna. We should therefore have faith that the speaker of Bhagavad Gita is none other than the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and Shrila Prabhupada is His representative.
71) A mango becomes sweeter when a parrot eats it by the influence of the parrot's beak. Similarly, whenever the Lord's pastimes are heard from the lips of a pure devotee the sweetness is increased and the submissive hearer derives immeasurable bliss.
72) On the moon there are innumerable rivers of heavenly nectar. Similarly from the moon-like faces of pure devotees flow the nectarine descriptions of Krishna's spiritual pastimes.
73) In bygone ages Indian kings sometimes selected a baby girl and fed her insignificant doses of strong poison. Over time the amount of poison was slowly increased, and when the girl blossomed into a beautiful young woman, large doses of the poison would not affect her. Such a visha-kanya or "poisonous virgin" was then employed as a weapon against inimical politicians. She would seduce them, and by her kisses they would
die. Similarly, the pure devotee possesses such potency that when descriptions of Krishna are heard from his lotus lips, one's life as a sense gratifier dries up and withers. This marks the "death" of the false ego and the birth of spiritual life.
74) During World War I many Russian soldiers in Europe saw for the first time water taps and light bulbs. Upon returning to their homeland with these souvenirs, they attempted to produce light and water by screwing them into the wall. However, it was of no avail for neither was linked to the source. In the same way, one who claims to be a reservoir of spiritual energy cannot actually be so unless he is connected to the God-source, Shri Krishna, through the medium of initiation by a pure devotee of the Lord.
75) Pure silver wire conducts electricity without resistance, while an impure or alloyed wire decreases the current. Similarly, the full potency of disciplic succession is experienced when the message of Krishna consciousness is heard from the lips of a pure devotee of the Lord. One who is not 100% free from materialistic hankering cannot be as expert at delivering the message.
76) A simple child mistakes that electricity miraculously comes out of a hole in the wall. An older brother realizes that it has come into the house by means of a wire suspended high above the street. The father knows that it originates from the city's central power supply. But the engineer knows that electricity is merely a manifestation of man's ability to harness the great power of nature. A sadhu however, is still more intelligent. He sees that this wondrous manifestation of material energy called electricity has been created from the mind of God.
77) Although electricity is everywhere, this is of no practical value to one whose house is without lights. The help of an expert electrical engineer is required to harness the current and light the house. Similarly, Krishna's energies are omnipresent, but the guidance of an expert spiritual master is needed to show Him to us. People have always been surrounded by elec-tricity, but were forced to tolerate the absence of electrical luxuries until its recent discovery. In the same way, Lord Shri Krishna is ever before us but we needed our spiritual master's help to see Him. Thousands are today expanding their awareness of Krishna, the all-beautiful Supreme Lord, through the chanting of Hare Krishna as engineered by one lone pure devotee.
78) A postman always gives a letter to the addressee without opening the envelope to change the message within. A bank teller gives the requested amount of money to the owner of a savings account on demand without ever considering giving too much or too little. Similarly, the pure devotee of the Lord presents without adulteration the actual message of Krishna as it is. For our part we merely have to accept it without mental speculation.
79) As a queen is followed by her maidservants, so the pure devotee is always followed by the goddesses of wealth, learning, and liberation who offer service to him on folded knees. Such a pure devotee may sometimes appear as penniless, although the wealth of Vaikuntha is at his disposal. The devotee is in fact so rich in love of God that not only can his transcendental treasury never be plundered, but the more he gives it to others, the more it increases. A devotee may not care for mundane scholarship, but there are none who can match his wisdom. He is automatically blessed with knowledge of a true understanding of all things. He may be a householder with a business, but due to his unflinching faith in Krishna, he is never entangled. He knows the real meaning of renunciation; that everything must be offered to Krishna.
80) The pure devotee is just like the chataki bird described in Sanskrit literature. Just as the chataki drinks only water that falls from the clouds, so the pure devotee, ever fixed at the lotus feet of the Supreme Lord, thinks only of Him and thereby drinks the nectar of the rain of Krishna's mercy. Just as the chataki bird prays for the cloud regardless of whether it showers, rains, or throws a thunderbolt, so the pure devotee accepts the mercy of the Lord in whatever form it takes.
(81) Thus, Nirvishesh, I have described to you the neces sity of having a bonafide spiritual master, his duties and some differences between a genuine sadhu and a pretender. Now listen as 1 explain the duties of a candidate who takes shelter of a pure devotee as a ship upon a windswept sea takes shelter of a safe harbor.