śrī śrī guru gaurāṅga jayataḥ!

Rays of The Harmonist On-Line Edition

Year-5, Issue 5
Posted: 9 June 2012

Dedicated to
nitya-līlā praviṣṭa oṁ viṣṇupāda

Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Gosvāmī Mahārāja

Inspired by and under the guidance of
nitya-līlā praviṣṭa oṁ viṣṇupāda

Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja

Who is The Topmost Object of Service?

by Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura Prabhupāda

(Portrait of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura Prabhupāda)

Question 1: Who is the topmost object of service?

Answer: In the Padma Purāṇa, Śrī Śiva Ṭhākura explains to Śrī Pārvatī-devī:

ārādhanānāṁ sarveṣāṁ viṣṇor ārādhanaṁ param
tasmāt parataraṁ devi tadīyānāṁ samarcanam

Among all forms of worship prevalent in this world, worshipping the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Śrī Hari, is the most exalted. And yet, worshipping the devotees, who render service to and perform worship of that most worshipful Supreme Lord is even more exalted than worshipping Him directly.

Even the Supreme Lord Himself worships His sincere devotee. The Supreme Lord is the topmost worshipful being, and His beloved devotee is the storehouse of love and worship of Him. The foremost among such devotees is śrī guru, so it goes without saying that to render service to and perform worship of śrī guru, he who is even worshipped by the Lord Himself, is without a doubt the greatest form of service and worship.

madguruḥ śrī jagadguruḥ, mannāthaḥ śrī jagannāthaḥ!

My guru is the guru of the whole world, and my Lord is the Lord of the Universe.

One who is envious of my guru is in fact envious of the Supreme Lord and of every single person in this world. Until we have this perception, we cannot become true servants of the spiritual master, nor can we surrender at his lotus feet, or realize our insignificance, or engage in hari-kīrtana by becoming more humble than a blade of grass (tṛṇād api sunīca) and free from pride while honouring all others (amānī mānada).

There is no activity more auspicious than rendering service to śrī guru. Among all forms of worship, worship of the Supreme Lord is the greatest, yet service to śrī guru is even more exalted. Until one solidly understands this, one will be unable to take proper shelter of śrī guru, for the conception that “I am dependent upon him, and he is my exclusive shelter, guardian and protector” will not manifest.

Sarvasvaṁ gurave dadyāt – offer everything to guru. According to this statement from the revealed scriptures, if a person does not surrender everything unto the lotus feet of śrī guru, if he does not engage in serving śrī guru with love and affection by sacrificing everything he has, including his life-energy, his wealth, his intelligence, his words, his mind, his education and his body, then he cannot be freed from the clutches of dvitīya-abhiniveśa, (absorption in interests separate from service to the Supreme), he cannot be delivered from attachment to sense-gratification or this material world, and he cannot become selfless.

The material disease is the selfish desire for mundane happiness. Without engaging in serving śrī guru, I cannot be cured of this disease, nor can my fears, worries, miseries and delusions ever be dispelled. But by fully accepting shelter at the lotus feet of śrī guru I can become free from illusion, fear and grief. If I become a sincere seeker of his heartfelt blessings, then he will bestow all benedictions upon me without depriving me in any way.

* * *

Śrī guru is not mortal. He is an eternal, immortal being. Śrī guru is eternal, service to him is eternal, and his servants are all eternal; therefore so much hope and shelter exists for us. There is nothing such as death for us.

We are the controlled or subordinate entities and śrī guru is the entity who controls. He is the Lord in the form of the servant (sevaka-bhagavān). Śrī Kṛṣṇa is viśaya-vigraha and śrī gurudeva is āśraya-vigraha. By accepting shelter of him we can attain service to the Supreme Lord. Although the original, self-manifest Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, is the viśaya-vigraha, He manifests Himself in the form of āśraya-vigraha as śrī guru-tattva (the existential principle of śrī guru). Although śrī gurudeva is directly the Supreme Controller, or the Lord Himself, he teaches us service to the Supreme Lord through his own behaviour, by personally serving the Lord.

Presently, we are dominated by our attachment to the material world and to our pride in falsely considering ourselves to be the doer of deeds. This is the sole cause of our misery and anxiety. Only śrīla gurudeva can save us from this disastrous pride.

But do I want to be saved? I, in fact, wish to remain imprisoned in the material world. If I genuinely had the desire to be delivered from this material world, I would have engaged in serving śrīla gurudeva in order to please him. Śrīla gurudeva is the direct manifestation of the Supreme Lord. He is simultaneously the incarnation of the Supreme Lord, His representative and His most dear and beloved devotee.

For those who offer everything to serve śrī gurudeva, the appetite for the bliss of offering more and more in service never becomes satiated. But does such an inclination exist in me? What to speak of giving one hundred percent of our self to śrīla gurudeva, does the inclination to offer even one percent of our self arise in our hearts? How can we achieve that most essential thing – loving service to God – if we cannot recognize it as most essential? The root cause of our present, miserable condition is simply that we do not regard śrī gurudeva as non-different from the Supreme Lord, for we are so engrossed in base worldliness and attached to illusory objects. That is why I say that we should never consider śrī gurudeva to be a mortal man. He is the giver of eternal life, the person who can cure the disease of material existence. He is your protector, guardian, well-wisher and selfless friend in every respect.

To the extent that I fail to take complete shelter of śrī gurudeva, or that I present myself before him with duplicity or disobey him, I am actually cheating myself. It is important to contemplate such things. Otherwise we will not find much benefit despite outwardly taking shelter of the lotus feet of śrīla gurudeva.

Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, who is the supremely auspicious source of all auspiciousness, has mercifully handed over our complete well-being to the hands of our śrī gurudeva. If I do not surrender cent percent unto the lotus feet of śrī gurudeva, if I engage in duplicity by not surrendering fully, then how shall he be able to bestow all auspiciousness upon me? If I remain engaged in worldliness internally, and externally make a false or hypocritical show of being engaged in devotion, then śrī guru, who is omniscient, will have no choice but to deprive me of true benefit.

Yādṛśī bhāvanā yasya siddhir bhavati tādṛśī – one’s perfection will be according to one’s mood and thoughts during the phase of spiritual practice.” When I disregard śrī gurudeva and Śrī Kṛṣṇa by not fully engaging in serving them, and instead remain engaged in serving the material energy – that is, serving my worldly relatives and so on – then śrīla gurudeva, who, as the indwelling Supersoul, knows the heart of every living being, will mercifully tell me:

“You have not become a disciple yet. You do not accept the discipline of my instruction. You do not listen to what I say. There is still sin present in your heart. You have not presented your ears in order to hear my words because you listen to your own treacherous mind and to the principles and ideals of worldly people. Therefore, you have been deprived.”

Therefore, I say once again, it is our duty to accept with a bowed head whatever arrangement śrī gurudeva genuinely and mercifully makes for us. This alone is the characteristic of a disciple, or one who has truly taken shelter of śrī guru. Without this trait, misfortune is assured.

O my friends, do not become sense enjoyers. Do not pursue the enjoyment of sense objects through the gateways of the senses, for everything in this world is an instrument meant for serving śrī guru. Everything is meant for serving Śrī Kṛṣṇa. If we keep the mentality of enjoying objects that are truly meant for serving śrī guru, we will never be granted auspiciousness. If we do not see every object in relation to śrī guru, we are certainly inviting our own misfortune. 

Translated by the Rays of The Harmonist team
from Śrīla Prabhupādera Upadeśāmṛta 
Questions re-numbered for this on-line presentation

Śrīla Prabhupādera Upadeśāmṛta is a compilation of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura Prabhupāda’s instructions in question-and-answer form.


Rays of The Harmonist On-line, Year-5, Issue 5 “Who is The Topmost Object of Service?” by Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura Prabhupāda, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License to ensure that it is always freely available.
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