Continuous Service

His Divine Grace Om Vishnupad
Srila Bhakti Nirmal Acharya Maharaj
Speaking to the devotees in London
7 August, 2011, part 6

 

Are there any questions from the devotees? Are they getting shy now?

Question: How can we balance reading the sastra to get inspiration and doing practical service?

Actually, it is depends on what is necessary. Suppose Gurudev asks you for a glass of water, but you say, "Gurudev, I am chanting now" (you think that chanting is better than giving a glass of water)—this is not right. You must balance it yourself. When service is necessary, service is the best. When it is service time, do service; when it is reading time, read; when it is sleeping time, sleep. You must understand this. Devotees always do service, everywhere. Sayane, bhojane, jagarane (while resting, eating, and awake). When devotees are taking prasadam, at that time service is also going on (prasad seva). Even when devotees are sleeping, at that time they are dreaming about Krishna's pastimes, they are also doing service. Do you understand? Sayane, bhojane, jagarane—service is always going on.

If somebody is a lazy person, if somebody does not want to do service, they close their door and say, "Oh, I cannot do it now. Now is my chanting time, I cannot do service now." Such things happen.

You heard also this story. It happened after Prabhupad Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur's time. One time, Srila Bhakti Dayita Madhav Goswami Maharaj, Srila Bhakti Saranga Goswami Maharaj and one more sannyasi—three disciples of Prabhupad—were sitting in one room. Madhav Maharaj read a newspaper and Goswami Maharaj asked him to pass the newspaper to him. Madhav Maharaj was chanting with his right hand, so he gave him the newspaper with his left hand. The third sannyasi chastised him,

"Why are you giving the newspaper with your left hand?"

"Because I was chanting on beads with my right hand."

"This is not right. A Vaishnav's order is Harinam!"

There is also another story. When Srila Madhav Maharaj gave class, there were not so many devotees in the nat mandir (they did not come to hear the class), so what he did was this: when all devotees went to take prasadam at the prasadam hall, he took Chaitanya-charitamrita and started reading it there—he said, "All right, you take prasadam with your mouth and listen to my Chaitanya-charitamrita reading with your ears." This is what he did.

You can balance it yourself. You can see yourself when some service is necessary, and what service is more appropriate. It depends upon the devotee. We also need to chant, we need to read, to preach, to go for collection, everything. There is a proverb in Bengali, "Juto selay theke chandi-path" (জুতা সেলাই থেকে চন্ডী পাঠ, lit. "from stitching shoes to reading the Chandi", an all-rounder)—you can make shoes and also read Chaitanya-charitamrita, Bhagavatam. "Ye randhe se chula-o vandhe (যে রাঁধে সে চুলও বাঁধে, lit. "she is cooking and also doing her hair", one work does not prevent you from doing another work)—it means a lady is cooking and also tying her hair. How these things are balanced depends upon the servitor, depends upon the devotee. It is not a question that you must read the scriptures half of the time and chant the other half of the time, you must adjust these things yourself.

It is necessary to take care of your health also—it is also necessary to eat, to take prasadam, to take medicine, etc. We are not yogis—we do not go to the forest. We must do everything, and we must also take care of our health and make sure our health is good because if our health becomes poor, we cannot preach, we cannot do service. Taking care of health is also necessary.

 

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