Be Kind and Serve Vaishnavas IV

(Continued from pp. 187, Nov. 1929)


April 1930

THE fallen soul cannot attain to or maintain his normal condition of freedom from ignorance and misery except by the willing service of the Supreme Lord. He cannot obtain the service of Godhead except by the service of His devotees. The service of the devotees is identical with the service of Krishna. The individual soul has to be a servant of all the devotees if he really wants to serve Krishna. The community of the Vaishnavas is a community of the servants of one another. This is not self-contradictory as all service is offered and accepted for the Supreme Lord. In the spiritual community Sri Krishna is the only Recipient of all service immediately. The last named condition supplies the principle of spiritual fellowship and the formation and maintenance of the community of the devotees.

The service of the devotee is therefore the only thing needful. The service of the devotee is as unconditional as that of the Supreme Lord Himself, being identical with the latter. The spiritual preceptor is the foremost of devotees who alone is capable of initiating the fallen soul into the mystery of the service of the ' devotees. This power distinguishes the Saviour Guru (Diksha Guru) from other devotees. The Diksha Guru or Saviour wields the Divine prerogative of causeless mercy to fallen souls. This is special grace. The bestowing of this grace to fallen souls is the function reserved solely to the Saviour Guru. The Dikhsha Guru imparts the spiritual vision by redeeming from sin.

It is by means of the spiritual vision that a redeemed soul is enabled to recognise and serve the devotees. The devotees are served on the spiritual plane. It is not possible for a fallen soul to understand the nature of spiritual service. By such service the redeemed soul maintains his natural condition of un-alloyed spiritual existence. The spiritual service is uninterrupted being real existence itself.

The devotees serve one another and help in the redemption of fallen souls. The redeemed souls in their turn serve the devotees by all their faculties. They employ their power of speech in preaching the Truth to all ignorant persons in association with the devotees. They practice what they preach. By listening to them and associating in their activities the fallen souls are filled with a hankering for the Truth and realise the necessity and duty of repairing to the Diksha Guru for initiation into spiritual life.

The sole duty of all souls is to serve the Supreme Lord and do nothing else. This duty has a two-fold aspect viz. (1) towards the Diksha Guru and the devotees and (2) towards the fallen souls. The duty towards the devotees is called Service. The duty towards fallen souls is designated Kindness. They are the two-fold aspects of the same function.

It is the duty of the soul to serve all pure souls. This is the duty alike of redeemed and fallen souls. Krishna is pleased only if His devotees are pleased. The displeasure of His devotees is identical with the displeasure of Krishna, Krishna is very, very partial, indeed, to His devotees. Krishna is as devoted to His devotees as the latter are to Him. Krishna is all-in-all to His devotee. The devotee is all-in-all to Krishna. For the reason that the devotee completely subordinates his will to the perfect will of the Lord, the unreserved partiality of Krishna for His devotee does not disturb the highest harmony and justice but adds its greatest charm to the mutual relationship. One who is not an exclusive servant of the Lord can have no part in such communion.

By serving pure souls Krishna is best served. By withholding service from pure souls the service of Krishna is wholly suspended. Nay more. The service must be of a nature that is acceptable to the devotees. Exclusive Love is the only commodity that is acceptable to Krishna. Mechanical performance of duties enjoined by the scriptures does not please Krishna. As a matter of fact, Krishna does not really stand in need of our services as a worldly master does. He has no wants like those of a worldly master. On the other hand, individual souls are perpetually in want. This is their nature. This want can be fulfilled only by the loving service of Krishna. If we serve Krishna for the fulfillment of His supposed wants we do something that is both redundant and mean. Neither does the pure soul seek the fulfillment of his own wants. He foregoes his wants by serving the pleasure of Krishna. Krishna is fully aware of our needs and He knows how and when to remove them if only we allow Him the sole initiative in the matter. We have wants but should neither desire nor refuse their removal and accept whatever favour Krishna is pleased to vouchsafe to us.

There is no sorrow for the soul except want of communion with Krishna. The soul longs to be perpetually commanded by Krishna to be enabled to serve Him. There is no reason why Krishna requires any service nor is there any reason why an individual soul yields the same to Him. It is causeless mercy on the one hand and causeless devotion on the other. Krishna empowers His devotees to accept the unceasing service of His beloved ones on His behalf. He is seldom directly with His sweethearts. He is perpetually with them in their mutual communion with one another. This is the only form of His service.

But this duty of loving, unconditional service is by its nature incapable of being rendered to the fallen souls. It is not the duty of any person to try to please the fallen souls. The fallen soul always seeks his own gratification. But the pure soul ever seeks to please Krishna and Krishna alone. The two functions are altogether incompatible and the existence of the one totally excludes the other.

It is the duty of every person to carry the message of the Truth to the fallen souls. The fallen souls are so wholly miserable! One who realises the actual plight of a fallen soul cannot but be moved by compassion to help him to obtain the shelter of the feet of Sri Gurudeva. This duty of real kindness all of us owe towards the fallen souls. This is the only way in which a redeemed soul can ever hope to keep alive the memory of his own debt to the Saviour and get nourishment for the maintenance of his devotion in all its freshness to his lotus feet.

The gradation of devotees is a fact that need not be opposed. The superiority of the Diksha Guru and his associated counterparts is the enabling condition of all possible relationship of the individual soul with the Supreme soul. Love is not jealous except by regard for the happiness of the Beloved. Love for Krishna is delighted by proof of greater love in others. It is only jealous of those who merely pretend to love. Loveless natures alone are envious when they suspect the presence of love in others. Sensuous love is the climax of such selfishness or lovelessness. It is the anti-climax of a duplicate series, as amorous love as of a spotless maiden for the perfect lover viz. youthful Krishna is the real climax of unselfishness. This self-denial of love for Krishna, expands into the service of the devotees of Krishna and in its maturity as kindness for fallen souls.

It is the duty of man, according to the Scriptures as interpreted by Lord Sri Chaitanya, to be kind to all fallen souls and to serve the devotees. By pleasing the devotees one pleases Krishna. By helping the fallen soul to regain the service of the devotees Krishna is pleased most of all. But this duty of kindness cannot be properly performed by anyone who is not himself wholly free from malice and selfishness. It is only the very highest devotees who can help fallen souls. The Saviour Guru and his associated counterparts belong to the highest grade of devotees. It is possible and edifying for a fallen soul to participate the duty of kindness to their fellows by implicit obedience to the Diksha Guru and his associated counterparts.

This is only reasonable. No fallen soul should hope to be redeemed before he has made full amends for his past deeds of cruelty to his fellow mortals. Sri Gurudeva affords him the opportunity of discharging this debt to his fellows. For this purpose it is necessary for the repentant sinner to sincerely follow the guidance of Sri Gurudeva.

It is not possible to anticipate the effect of the universal adoption of such a policy by everyone in this world. The only difficulty that stands in the way of such adoption is the strong faith of man in his unaided capacity to attain the summum bonum. So long as we retain our faith in civilization as a worthy product of concerted human endeavour we should feel disinclined to make a very great departure from the tried method. We are hardly prepared to give a patient hearing to any proposal that involves any denial of the sufficiency of human initiative and human nature.

But why must we suppose that we are man at all? If we are really man the human civilization necessarily becomes a matter of life and death for us. Are we sure that we are after all only human beings? Can we conceive of the quality of humanity as part and parcel of the soul? Humanity is, no doubt, nearer to the soul than any other earthly state, for the reason that it alone is in a position to realise its present unnatural and unspiritual condition. The spiritual is all-embracing and of course includes the ideal of humanity. The soul is more than human and not subject to the human frailties and limitations. The humanists are irrationally enough in violent love with the fallible side of our apparent selves.

The frailties and limitations of humanity are, however, sought to be removed by external expedients in the shape of institutions known as civilization. It is the contention in this paper that the methods ordinarily followed for this purpose by the advocates of progressive civilization tend to perpetuate and increase our sin and misery. This is so because all theories for the amelioration of the condition of humanity want to perpetuate the human state itself. That which is frail and imperfect by its very constitution and environment could hardly be improved into the pure and perfect except by changing its very constitution.

It may be possible to make the spiritual realm manifest itself on earth. It is not possible to change matter into spirit. If the spiritual community is ever established on this earth it will not be externally very different from the existing institutions. But its internal condition will be wholly different. There are people who are very poor but very loveable. There are also persons who are very clever, very wealthy, very handsome but very unlovable. A pure soul requires nothing except himself for being a source of unalloyed blessing to all.

We are bound to fail if we attempt to gauze the spiritual quality of a man or society by worldly considerations such as economic, political, social, ethical, aesthetic. All this refers to the vile clay and cannot be any indication of the nature of the soul. The pure soul maintains his isolation from and superiority to worldliness in all its forms, although seemingly engrossed in the busiest worldly pursuits. The trials and tribulations of this world never touch the pure soul at all. He bears a charmed life and moves through the phantasmagoria of life as a blessing to all who come in his way, but remains ever unrecognised and misunderstood by those whom he blesses most.

The only business of this life is to serve Godhead by serving his devotees who appear in this world for the deliverance of fallen souls. The devotees serve Godhead and teach men by their precept and example to serve Godhead at all times and in all circumstances. This does not mean that one who wants to serve Godhead cannot do so without giving up all ordinary and so-called necessary pursuits. On the contrary the devotees enable us to understand clearly what are necessary and useful and to concentrate only on them. This method alone can yield the real mutual good of the benefactor and the benefited.

The good that is attained by serving Godhead cannot be estimated in terms of any worldly values? It operates without let or hindrance and manifests itself in forms that may appear to be unpromising to the erring judgment of sinful man. It may be found in the worst of brothels and be absent from the chastest shrines of the apparently pious. It may light up the gloom of a hut of rags and squalor and be absent from the sunbright pavilions of heroes in the hour of fulfillment of their wildest dreams of glory.

The so-called ups and downs of this life never stand in the way of the devotee whose path lies on the secure and eternal plane of an existence that knows no obstructions and no unwholesomeness. The very appearance of high and low on the spiritual plane contributes to the promotion and establishment of perfect harmony.

I have been led to use somewhat picturesque and almost poetical language in describing the nature of the life of the servant of the devotees of Godhead. There is no earthly language that can do it justice. The only problem of human life is how to attain our natural state of pure souls. Human life devoid of the service of Godhead possesses no value. Human life dedicated to the service of Godhead is the only state of well-being. No so-called earthly well-being need blind us to its inherent and absolute unwholesomeness and uselessness in comparison with the reality. It is, therefore, especially necessary for those who are inordinately fond of worldly well-being to consider very attentively the details of the scheme of life that is placed by the devotees of Krishna within the reach of those who are anxious to attain the service of Godhead. The organisation is known as the Daivavarnasrama society based on a gradation of pro-spiritual qualities and stages under the spiritual guidance of devotees. We reserve the detailed consideration of the theistic Varnasrama social organisation for a separate article.