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Divine Service


Devotee: In Srimad Bhagavad-gita, Krishna has explained about karmma-yoga. Can karmma-yoga ever be seva, or devotinal service?

Srila Govinda Maharaj: Karmma and seva, action and divine service, are identical from the external perspective. Bhakti-yoga and karmma-yoga are the same apart from one thing—and that is the inner mood of the practitioner. The inner intention is the all-important, differentiating factor. What result is going solely to the Lord, and not to the jiva-soul, that is called bhakti-yoga. When all of one's work will be accredited in the account of Krishna, then that is bhakti-yoga. And when the result of one's work is credited to the account of that jiva-soul, then that is karmma-yoga. It is very simple.

yat karosi yad asnasi yaj juhosi dadasi yat
yat tapasyasi kaunteya, tat kurusva mad arpanam

(Bhagavad-gita: 9.27)

"Whatever you will do for Me, you will not be responsible for any reaction you accrue from that." Karmma is giving reaction. Newton's third law is that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Many of Newton's laws have been disputed and even broken, but this law still exists unchallenged. It is not only Newton's law but it is the law of the Gita, of the Vaidik Scriptures. We are living within the plane of exploitation, otherwise no reaction could come. That is, we are exploiting and exploited within this plane and so reaction is always coming to us. Once, just after the War of Kuruksetra, a rsi from near Kashmir, named Utanka came before Krishna with a view to curse Him. "You are the cause of the violence in Kuruksetra. If You had wanted to You could have easily controlled the situation and prevented it, but You did not. Now millions of women have been widowed as a result of that battle, and I cannot tolerate to hear them cry. You are the cause, and so I shall curse You."

Krishna smilingly replied, "Oh rsi, please give a little hearing to me. You have amassed so much subtle power through your austerity, your tapasya, but that will be useless if you throw your curse upon Me. I am existing in the plane of nirguna, the non-material plane, so your curse will not touch Me. All your austerity, tapasya, everything you have acquired, it is all within this material world. It may reach up to the highest plane of this world, Brahmaloka, but it cannot touch My position. It will be futile and you will lose everything, so I advise you not to curse Me. Please heed My advice to you. I am giving you the knowledge so that you will see who I am."

Then with folded hands that rsi took shelter of Krishna, "Now I can see, and You have saved all of my tapasya." That is the plane of nirguna, and playing there is devotion— the service world. There are three planes: the plane of exploitation, the plane of renunciation, and the plane of dedication. Who is wholeheartedly serving Krishna, he is living in the plane of dedication. He is not responsible for the results of his own activity, yet he is happy with his activities because he is trying to satisfy his Lord, and the Lord is living within the nirguna plane. So the reactions are not coming to the devotee.

I often give the example of a policeman or military man. During war a soldier may kill hundreds or even thousands of other people, but the responsibility for that must come to the government, so no reaction will come to that man—any reaction will come to the government. Similarly a police officer may sometimes kill a criminal while trying to apprehend him. Again the reaction must come to the government. If through his work anything wrong has happened, then compensation will be given by the government, not from his salary. This is the example.

If we offer all our activity for the service to Krishna, then that is bhakti-yoga. All result will go to Krishna, and it will not come back to me. Otherwise if we are doing karmma, following karmma-yoga, then some reaction will also come to us. It is nature, otherwise the universe would not function, and that is true not just of this universe, but all universes. When we examine this universe we are amazed, and we think that there cannot be anything more than this, but it is not so. The rsis have seen that like this universe, millions of universes are existing, and floating in the river of Viraja. This universe has fourteen levels. The upper levels begin with Bhur, Bhuvar, Svar, Mahar, Jana, Tapo, and up to Satyaloka, and downwards there are Tala, Atala, Vitala, Nitala, Talatala, Mahatala, and Sutala, and like this, millions of universes are floating within the ocean of Viraja.

virajara pare suddha paravyoma-dhama
tad upari sri gokula vrndaranya nama

Crossing over the Viraja, there is Brahmaloka, the effulgence of Vaikunthaloka, Paravyoma. Brahmaloka means no-man's land, equilibrium, or abscissa, and crossing that we can enter the Paravyoma-dham. But first we must obtain a visa. Without the correct visa no one can enter another country. We may obtain a passport from the Mahamaya here, or by the grace of Lord Siva, he has that power, but that will be useless if you cannot get a visa from the Vaikunthaloka. Vaikuntha is existing within the plane of dedication, and who is fully dedicated, he can get that visa. And even after entering that plane, many inner divisions exist for which you need further, inner visas if you want to go there. Sankarsan-Baladev, he is the visa officer there. Sankarsan is the master, and Yogamaya is the mistress there. All activity is through the agency of Yogamaya and the necessary power is coming from Sankarsan.

yadyapi asrjya nitya chit-sakti-vilasa
tathapi sankarsana-ichhaya tahara prakasa

(Chaitanya-charitamrta: Madhya-lila, 20.257)

Devotee: A brahmachari who lives in the math of the Mission, is in a very safe position because everything he is doing is seva for the Mission. But in the grhastha asram we are doing so much karmma, so how can we be safe in our spiritual life? Srila Govinda Maharaj: It is not always true. The brahmachari may be living in the math, that may be true externally, but that brahmachari may really be living in naraka, in hell. Similarly, one may be living in the grhastha asram but he can be residing in heaven. It is only dependent on the inner mood. Taking the saffron cloth, doing some work in the math, and maintaining the formality, that is not sufficient. The only thing sufficient will be the true mood of devotion. If there is the mood of devotion, then that is very nice. That is quality.

Srila Guru Maharaj said we need quality and not quantity. You will see very few brahmacharis in Guru Maharaj's math. They are coming and staying a few years maybe, but eventually they cannot remain. It is ultimately all depending on the mood. Mood of devotion, or mood of emotion? If one is living in the math only emotionally, never going to the deeper level, but only floating on the surface, then he will not get the proper result. And one grhastha can do one hundred times more service to Krishna through his genuine mood of devotion. But if one is living in the math and doing twenty-four hours per day sincere service, then he must get the proper result. The substance is necessary, and that is devotion.

The word 'devotion' is only applicable to a devotee. If one is a devotee, then we must consider that he has devotion. We may say, "He is a devotee, and he is a devotee and she is a devotee," but that may only be an external identification. Devotion is the most valuable asset. One may be from the lowest caste, may be a grhastha, or anything, but if he has devotion, then he must be the best of all men.

In the Ramanuja-sampradaya, which is also existing within the devotional plane, there is a famous story. There was a devotee named Danu Das. 'Das' generally means a non-brahmana, but Ramanujacharyya went to his house and accepted Prasadam there, and because of his devotion, a representative from Vaikunthaloka came to him and took him to that plane. This is not just a story, this is a fact.

So we can understand that everything is depending only on devotion. Where there is devotion there is no problem, and devotion has its basis in strong faith. The first thing necessary is strong faith to Guru and Krishna, otherwise we cannot do anything for Krishna. We may do something, but that will have no value. We can do something only with heart, with affection and with love, and behind that must be strong faith. That is devotion, and that will give us hankering for Krishna whose qualities are unique and wonderful. The jiva-soul has fifty qualities in common with Krishna. In the first layer we are the same. Then, the demigods have fifty-five qualities, Narayan has sixty, Sankarsan-Baladev has sixty-two, and Krishna has sixty-four qualities. He is the origin of all, even of Narayan. In Sri Brahma-samhita we find:

isvarah paramah krsnah sachhidananda-vigrahah
anadir adir govindah sarvva-karana-karanam

"He is the cause of all causes." It is proven there in Brahma-samhita. If you read Brahma-samhita you will find that a very concise description is given. In less than one hundred verses the entirety of the Vaisnava theology is presented, and above all, you will find it is established that Sri Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The jiva-souls are emanating from His marginal potency, or tatastha-sakti, which means they can be attracted to either the mundane or divine world.

Krishna's special qualification is that when the flute-song of Krishna comes out, the whole universe is attracted. But if our ear is blocked with wax, then we will not hear that, so first it is necessary to clean ourselves, then we can hear. Existing above the plane of Narayan is Krishnaloka, and there four qualities are playing in an unparalleled way.


(Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu: 2.1.41-42)

"There the play of Krishna with the Braja-gopis and the Braja-balakas, cowherd girls and boys, and others, is going on in the sweetest way. In Vrindavan Dham where there is Govardhan, the Yamuna, and the twelve forests, the sweetest varieties of play are going on day and night." Brahma himself was stunned to see those Pastimes of Krishna. He could not understand who was this boy playing in Vrindavan. He thought, "This is not my creation, or maybe I created this and have forgotten." In this way he was perplexed, and so he stole all of Krishna's cows and cowherd boyfriends and kept them hidden in a cave.

After one year he returned to see the result. He was astonished, everything was going on just as before. At first he thought that the cows and cowherd boys must have escaped from the cave, but when he checked he found they were all still there as he had left them, in mystic slumber. Then he was astounded. He could not fathom how the play of Krishna is floating in this way, and he submitted a very nice sloka, which is found in Srimad-Bhagavatam:

jananta eva janantu kim bahuktya na me prabho
manaso vapuso vacho vaibhavam tava gocharah

(Srimad-Bhagavatam: 10.14.38)

"Whoever will say that they know Your glories, they can say that, but my confession is that I cannot understand You at all. You are simply beyond the reach of my body, mind and words."

This is sarvabhuta-chamatkara-lila-kallola-varidhih—His wondrous Pastimes. And those who are in His association they are, atulya-madhura-prema-mandita-priya-mandalah. His companions are always playing in the mood of Madhura-rasa. There, nothing bad can exist. Krishna is the only enjoyer and He can enjoy with everything. He enjoys the love of the paramour, and there, in that transcendental abode, that has the topmost position. Those who have the very sweetest, ecstatic love in their hearts, the boy and girl friends, those types of friends are always playing with Krishna. He is the enjoyer, and they are the suppliers of that enjoyment, but peculiarly they in turn feel more joy within their hearts than even Krishna is feeling. Why?

In this mundane world we can see this principle also. Many will like to eat, but there are some who like to feed others, and they feel more pleasure doing that than being fed. When they are cooking and feeding others, giving happiness to others, their happiness is greater than those being fed. When they see the happiness of those they are feeding, they are getting double happiness. Similarly the devotee wants to satisfy Krishna, and when Krishna is satisfied, then the devotee is doubly satisfied, and Krishna embraces that devotee. And He is asamanordhva-rupa-sri- vismapita-characharah.

What kind of sweet person is Krishna? When He sees His divine form reflected in the mirror, like a madman He wants to embrace that. His beauty is so intense that even He cannot understand that it is a reflection. From this we can get some idea of the kind of beauty found in Him, and when the Gopis are getting His embrace, how much happiness they are experiencing we simply cannot say. This is the super love relationship with Krishna. And trijagan-manasakarsi-murali-kala-kujitah, the whole universe is attracted to murali, the flute of Krishna. From Krishna's flute, the first sound, the primeval 'Om' was heard by Lord Brahma. Hearing that he was intoxicated. He tried to meditate on that, and through his meditation came the Kama-gayatri by the grace of Divya Saraswati. This is all explained in Sri Brahma-samhita. Happily I can recommend that you try to read this book. Some of the inner meanings are hard to understand, both in the Bengali and the English. If you understand the original Sanskrit then maybe you will get a little better understanding, but the Bengali commentary is difficult to fully understand. That is because the masters, when they are giving the explanation of the slokas, they do so with full guard, so that the meaning will not be adulterated.

So four unique qualities exist in that special plane of Vrindavan, the plane of dedication. That is called Vraja Dham. The word 'vraja' is a verb, an action, it means to 'dive deep into the Reality.'

sarvva-dharman parityajya
mam ekam saranam vraja
aham tvam sarvva-papebhyo
moksayisyami ma suchah

(Bhagavad-gita: 18.66)

In the last chapter of Bhagavad-gita, Krishna says, "Oh Arjuna, what more can I say to you? You are My dear friend, and so I am now imparting to you My most affectionate advice. You please consider it. I have told many things to you from the first to this last chapter, and that is sufficient to understand the nature of the Truth. Of course some further question may come later, but now it is not necessary for you to know more. Only, what I will tell you now, please give your full attention to that. Whatever you know as religion, I am telling you to leave that, and dive deep into the plane of Reality. Come to Me in Vraja."

This means that whatever our conception may be, that must necessarily be useless in the ultimate analysis. We have come to deal with the Infinite with our finite understanding. If we say, 'It is unlimitedly big,' then how much can we conceive of 'big'? Like the sky? But how much can we see of the sky? Perhaps two miles, not much more than that. And if we say, 'It is unlimitedly small,' then how much 'small' can we conceive? To the atom? But the Upanisad says:

anor aniyan mahato mahiyan

"He is smaller than the atom, and there He can exist with His full power." It is inconceivable, and so Mahaprabhu has said achintya-bhedabheda-siddhanta, the perfect conclusion is that the Lord and the individual jiva-souls are simultaneously and inconceivably similar and different. This is the conception of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. You cannot conceive of the Absolute through your mind and intelligence. Mental power is the highest in this mundane world, the mind can move faster than the ether, but that is also useless to approach Him. He is achintya.

achintyah khalu ye bhava
na tams tarkena yojayet
prakrtibhyah param yach cha
tad achintyasya laksanam

(Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu: 2.5.93)

"That which is of the nature of the Absolute, is called achintya, or inconceivable. Reason can only comprehend what is of the mundane nature, so do not try to control what is inconceivable within your knowledge—your mental power. It is beyond your reason." That is the achintya-sakti of Krishna.




⇐ (7) "Transcendental World"

(9) "Transcendental Knowledge
and The Fortunate Soul" ⇒


Section 1 — 'Siddhanta'
1 The Divine Service of Krishna
2 In Praise of the Devotees
3 Secure at Home
4 Our Life-line of Devotional Practice
5 Affection
6 Going Deeper
7 Transcendental World
8 Divine Service
9 Transcendental Knowledge and The Fortunate Soul
10 A Life of Service
11 Emotion or Devotion?
12 Our Lord’s Beloved Power
13 The Plane of Dedication

Section 2 — 'Biographical'
14 Srila Madhavendra Puripad—the Sprout of Love Divine
15 The Appearance of Sri Gaurasundar
16 The Flow of Mahaprabhu's Line
17 In Praise of Srila Narottam Das Thakur

Section 3 — 'Our Devotional Line'
18 Message to Massage the Devotees' Hearts
19 Harmony is Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's conception
20 The One Channel of Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math
21 The Eternal Service of Sri-Gaura-Saraswati
22 The Voice of Sri Chaitanyadev
23 Puri Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math, Jagannathdev, and His Dham
24 A Day at Hapaniya
25 Caringly Educating
26 Address to the Assembled Devotees

Section 4
27 Excerpts from Letters
28 Treasures

Appendix 1
Appendix 2