The Attitude of a Servant: Being the Seen, not the Seer



sri sri guru gauranga jayatah!

Rays of The Harmonist On-Line Edition

Special On-line Edition for the disappearance day of Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Gosvāmī Mahārāja
Posted: 22 October 2010


Dedicated to
nitya-lila pravista om visnupada

Sri Srimad Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Gosvami Maharaja


Inspired by and under the guidance of

Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja


The Attitude of a Servant: Being the Seen, not the Seer –
Dṛṣtā nahe dṛśya haiyā sevakera kārya

by Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Gosvāmī Mahārāja


(Portrait of Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Gosvāmī Mahārāja)

It is mentioned in Śrī Hari-bhakti-sudhodaya (13.2):

akṣṇoḥ phalaṁ tvādṛśa-darśanaṁ hi
tanoḥ phalaṁ tvādṛśa-gātra-saṅgaḥ
jihvā-phalaṁ tvādṛśa-kīrtanaṁ hi
sudurlabhā bhāgavatā hi loke

Devotees of Bhagavān are extremely rare in this world. Therefore the perfection of the eyes is to see them, the perfection of the body is to touch them and the perfection of the tongue is to glorify them.

Upon seeing the title of this essay and reading this verse, many people will object to this essay even before reading it. Offering our brothers, the readers, prostrated obeisances and keeping a straw between our teeth, we earnestly beseech them to hear us. By submissively approaching the lotus feet of an ācārya, who is the personified conclusion and the manifested embodiment of śāstra, we can understand that our own consideration of śāstra is based on external perception and is nothing but the whim of our minds. Even that which śāstra directly refutes or rejects, we, according to our own desire, deem the subject and essence of śāstra.

In this verse, a fortunate person who has been blessed by darśana of a bhāgavad-bhakta is overwhelmed with bliss. He says, “To have the darśana of a Vaiṣṇava is indeed the perfection of the eyes, to touch him is the perfection of the body and to glorify him is the perfection of the tongue, because in this world such bhāgavad-bhaktas are extremely rare.”

Such a statement has been delivered at the lotus feet of a Vaiṣṇava by a servant who has received his mercy and been overwhelmed by gratitude for him. Unless a Vaiṣṇava bestows his mercy upon us and reveals his svarūpa, there is no possibility of us knowing and understanding him. When the Vaiṣṇava mercifully reveals his svarūpa, the jīva remembers his previous mundane, sensual, worldly perception of that Vaiṣṇava and he naturally feels a deep anguish in his heart. That specific form of the Vaiṣṇava, who is devoted to the service of Bhagavān, attracts him to such an extent that as soon as a previous mundane conception of the Vaiṣṇava appears on the path of his memory he feels disgusted by it.

It is stated in the above verse, akṣṇoḥ phalaṁ tvādṛśadarśanaṁ hi – the perfection of the eyes is to have darśana of a Vaiṣṇava. In such darśana the mood to render service under that Vaiṣṇava’s guidance is indeed expressed. Vaiṣṇavas do not know anyone apart from Śrī Bhagavān. In turn, the vaiṣṇava-sevaka does not know anything apart from rendering service according to the directions of the Vaiṣṇavas.

This sevana-dharma (service attitude) of the servant is not aimed at attaining personal enjoyment through acts of seeing and touching the Vaiṣṇava. Bhagavān and Bhagavān’s devotees only accept our true nature (svarūpa), which is devoted to service. They never accept our mundane nature, which is devoid of service.

Bhagavān is not a mundane entity (prākṛta-vastu). Similarly, the pure soul (śuddha jīvātmā) is also not a mundane entity. In his pure state, the jīvātmā is naturally devoted to service that pleases Bhagavān. The intense eagerness for the darśana of Bhagavān that is observed in him is solely due to his eagerness to render service to Bhagavān. The perfection of the sevaka’s feet in visiting the dhāma of Bhagavān is manifest in order to attain service to Bhagavān. He cleans the temple of Viṣṇu with his hands, thus enhancing Bhagavān’s pleasure. The sevaka’s two eyes become blessed by collecting all types of beautiful objects solely for the service of Bhagavān. With the help of his nose, the sevaka is led to gather various fragrant objects to assist in satisfying Bhagavān. With his tongue, the sevaka performs the kīrtana of Bhagavān’s name, form, qualities and pastimes, thus enhancing His bliss.

Besides this, he offers extremely tasteful food to Bhagavān, having examined them with his tongue. The sevaka (the servant) has a spiritual body so that the sevya (the object of his service), Śrī Bhagavān, can experience the pleasure of touch from that sevaka. The Vaiṣṇavas of the Śrī sampradāya are devoted to the conception of vidhi-mārga, or regulated devotional service, and cannot embrace the purport of all this in their hearts. However, in comparison, the more qualified service of the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas, who are devoted to the path of rāga, or deep attachment, yields the highest extent of perfection in all the senses by this method alone.

We have entitled this essay: “The Attitude of a Servant: Being the Seen, not the Seer.” This means that one should not consider himself he who sees Bhagavān. A person should never hurry to have darśana of Bhagavān with the aim of personal enjoyment. When a person has kāma, the desire to please his own senses, then the door to the transcendental abode of Bhagavān closes to him. And when mundane endeavours for personal enjoyment and false renunciation have been completely eliminated from a heart that has been illuminated by exclusive surrender to Kṛṣṇa (kṛṣṇaika śaraṇatā), then the servant’s sole disposition will be to render service exclusively for the pleasure of Bhagavān.

The transcendental gopīs of Vraja dress solely for the pleasure of Kṛṣṇa. Phalgutva, to falsely renounce that which pleases Kṛṣṇa, can never result in finding a place in their hearts. Their obsession for Kṛṣṇa is solely to render service to Him. Their act of looking at Kṛṣṇa’s lotus face without blinking their eyes is also solely to enhance His bliss. When Kṛṣṇa sees that the gopīs are looking at Him, He becomes delighted. Because they are aware of this, the gopīs are exclusively intent on attaining darśana of Him. When they look at Kṛṣṇa, it is not with the intention of personal enjoyment through being the seers. In other words, it is they who become visible to Kṛṣṇa; they become the objects seen by Him. Solely to give Kṛṣṇa bliss, they ‘show’ Him their nature (svarūpa), which is completely devoted to serving Him. Here the act of ‘showing’ does not express their ego, but indicates the excellence of their service.

Thousands and thousands of pilgrims visit holy places in order to have darśana of Bhagavān. Although most think that they received His darśana, they are actually still an unlimited distance from receiving it. When one has actually attained darśana of Bhagavān, he is unable to utter statements like, “The deity is made of wood”, “The deity is made of stone”, “The deity is made of clay” and “Jagannātha has no hands or legs”.

The act of these pilgrims’ ‘seeing’ is saturated with the spirit of personal enjoyment, which is not the spirit of a servant of Bhagavān. The afore mentioned expressions show that the very act of ‘seeing’ Bhagavān is itself covering and barring their vision. Many have lost the path by which they can have darśana of Bhagavān due to being covered by the darkness of the spirit of personal enjoyment, which is darker than the new moon night. Therefore, with their deliverance in mind, my śrī gurupāda-padma, Śrīla Prabhupāda, has cautioned:

Do not go to see Lord Jagannātha with a spirit of personal enjoyment, which is born of aversion for Him and which is prevalent in this world. Enter the temple of Śrī Jagadīśa carrying the necessary ingredients – that is, a service attitude that delights Lord Jagannātha.

Always keep in mind that the act of ‘seeing’ Jagannātha with mundane eyes is not how a servant sees Him. The servant’s disposition is to show Him the nature (svarūpa) of his service attitude – in other words, to become the seen. It means to come within His sight in such a way that delights the worshipful Bhagavān. The servant’s attitude is not to derive personal pleasure by seeing Bhagavān. Rather, brilliantly situated within the servant’s heart is the attitude, “Bhagavān will be delighted by seeing me.”


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