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Importance of Vaishnav-Seva

His Divine Grace Om Vishnupad
Srila Bhakti Nirmal Acharya Maharaj
Divine Appearance Day, Sri Vyasa Puja
17 October 2020, evening, part 1


I am very happy to see you all. I know you have been waiting for me...

You are keeping me in your heart, giving me love and affection, and Gurudev has chosen me as his dog to serve him—in that way, I am very satisfied, I am very happy. I know all my godbrothers, all my well-wishers, all my seniors, sisters and brothers, everybody is keeping me in their heart. Actually I do not have any quality or qualification... [His Divine Grace's phone rings.]

So many phone calls have been coming today the whole day starting from early in the morning—everyone is giving me so many good wishes. It gives me so much inspiration and enthusiasm for service. Devotees are giving me power and so much energy.

Gurudev also taught me how important it is to serve devotees. Gurudev himself learnt from his Guru Maharaj—from Srila B.R. Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj. Many godbrothers would come to Srila Sridhar Maharaj to hear Hari-katha from him. Srila A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaj Prabhupad, Srila Bhakti Prajnan Keshav Goswami Maharaj, Srila Bhakti Pramode Puri Goswami Maharaj, Srila Bhakti Saranga Goswami Maharaj, Srila Bhakti Kamal Madhusudan Maharaj, et al.—they came to hear Hari-katha from Om Vishnupad Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj. At that time, Gurudev was a brahamchari and Srila Sridhar Maharaj's servitor, and he learnt how to serve Vaishnav, serve devotees.

It is very important to serve devotees because without the service to the devotees we cannot proceed in our spiritual life. That is why, it is my happiness that you have accepted me as your servant and are allowing me to serve you all. I am a very fallen soul, I do not have any quality or qualification, but Gurudev taught me, "If you can please and make devotees happy, then you can succeed in your spiritual life."

We do not know, we cannot understand what Vaishanvism is, and we always make mistakes—there is always some kind of asurik pravritti (demoniac works) in our heart. Sometimes, we do not have proper tolerance. I often think how much tolerance Prahlad Maharaj had. He was tortured so much by his father Hiranyakasipu, but we do not get that kind of austerity, yet we think, "Oh, it is too much austerity, too much problem!" and we want to run away. This is not right. When I see Mahabharata and read how much austerity Pancha Pandavs got just because of their kingdom, when I see Srimad Bhagavatam and read how much austerity Prahlad Maharaj got from his father, I think that, compared to them, we have no austerity in our life.

Actually, I was born in a very low family where celebrating birthdays, saying 'happy birthday', etc. was not part of the culture. That is why, I am getting shy on this day. I am thinking I am now becoming a little old—when I look in the mirror and see many hairs that look white, I think that I am slowly, slowly becoming old. My mind is not becoming old; my mind is always young. When I go to put the tilaks and see white hair, I always want to shave because I have so many grey hairs and I do not like to see grey hair. That is why, I always shave. So, I am thinking that now, at this age, all the devotees, all my affectionate brothers and sisters are making me a 'happy birthday'. A 'happy birthday'! [His Divine Grace laughs.]

I have actually never seen birthday celebrations.

When I joined Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math, Gurudev's godbrothers were making 'Acharya Abhivandan Mahotsav', but I had got some invitations from other Mayapur acharyas where they wrote 'Vyasa Puja and Sri Guru Puja Maha-Mahotsav'. I wondered, "Why are they writing 'Acharya Abhivandan Mahotsav'?" Then, I decided that I would also write 'Vyasa Puja and Guru Puja Maha-Mahotsav'. I made the first Vyasa Puja festival for Gurudev (Guru Puja Maha-Mahotsav) in 1992, and when I showed the invitation letters to Gurudev at that time, he was happy with it. (There was some mistake in the letter, and Gurudev corrected me. I was very happy about it.) I also put many lights, decorations, etc. around the temple, and Gurudev heard that his appearance festival was being arranged very gorgeously. I had invited many of Gurudev's and Srila Guru Maharaj's Indian disciples, many western devotees also came. So many people came to the temple for the festival. I remember it was the evening on the adhivas day. Gurudev walked around the temple, looked at the lights, decorations and saw that all temple looked nice and everything was clean. Gurudev was very happy. After he looked at everything, he went back to his room and I went to join the evening arati. I sang at two aratis, finished the Tulasi parikrama, etc. and then went to pay obeisance to Gurudev. When I came to Gurudev's veranda, Gurudev seemed a little upset. He said to me, "Vinod, why have you spent so much money on this festival? Why have you painted my building with white paint? Why did you not paint it black?!" I was surprised, "Why is Gurudev saying like that?" Later, I heard what had happened. When Gurudev went back to his veranda, one of his godbrothers came to him and complained, "Vinod is spending so much money! Why has he painted your room again?" Gurudev was happy that it had been painted, but because that person was envious, Gurudev chastised me, but actually he showed his support to me in this way. It was 1992. I understood later that Gurudev had chastised me because he was very upset. Gurudev explained it to me later. There was much criticism coming from his godbrothers, there are such people in this world, and it gives me a great pain to see envy.

Such mentality is actually demoniac (asurik pravritti). We can show humility and say that every jiva soul, every living being is a part of the Lord; however, at the same time, there is some envy, some kind of demoniac work going on in our hearts. There are people who are not even man, you can call them demons—you look at the person and cannot see a man's face. Gurudev says also that in this age of Kali, demons will join this Sankirtan Maha-Mandala wearing tilaks, kanthi-malas and Vaishnav dress. Gurudev said that, and I can see that now too. Demons come to join Krishna consciousness—they come wearing kanthi-malas, tilaks, etc. You can say that on the other hand, Krishna lives within every jiva soul (sarva jive Krishna adhisthan), but in some people there is Krishna living on one side and a demon living and working on the other side.

This is a big problem, but this ultimately depends upon one's devotion, upon one's faith. Do you understand what I am saying? One's quality depends upon their faith...

So, considering this situation, Gurudev always taught me how to serve devotees. Gurudev always warned me when I made festivals, "Be careful. You have invited many people, you have invited sannyasis and brahmacharis—you must give them good prasadam, you must give good respect to them." That is what Gurudev always taught me. I learnt everything from Gurudev—I observed how he served Vaishnavs. "Chhadiya vaisnava-seva nistara payechhe keba (ছাড়িয়া বৈষ্ণব-সেবা নিস্তার পায়েছে কেবা): Without service to the Vaishnav, you cannot get any relief."


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Bhukti, Mukti, Bhakti
What is mukti and what is bhakti? His Divine Grace Srila B.N. Acharya Maharaj is reading from Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita, Adi-lila, Chapters 8 and 10, noting the exceptional character of devotion of Srila Krishna Das Kaviraj Goswami and Srila Raghunath Das Goswami..


Nitai gunamani amara
'Nitai brought a flood of divine love to the land of Gauda. The devotees immersed themselves in it, but the unfortunate floated on its surface.'
নিতাই গুণমণি আমার

That kind of full surrender must come, then Krishna will protect—Gurudev said,
'If you serve the Guru, Krishna will serve you.'