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What Is Service?

His Divine Grace Om Vishnupad
Srila Bhakti Nirmal Acharya Maharaj
15 October 2018, Dum Dum Park, part 4


I remember one time, when Gurudev was staying in the Sevak Bhavan guesthouse in Dum Dum Park, and there was a new brahmachari, a foreign devotee, who had just taken first initiation from Gurudev. He asked Gurudev, "What is my service?" and Gurudev replied, "You must only sit here at the veranda in front of me."

Day after day, he sat there and gradually became bored. He thought, "Gurudev is not saying anything, he told me to only sit here..." Then, another, a little senior, devotee came to him one day and said, "You are only sitting here in front of Gurudev, you are not doing anything. From tomorrow, come with me to the temple building, you can clean the kitchen and prasadam hall with me."

So, the next day he went with the devotee to clean the kitchen. The day passed, and he had not finished cleaning, then the next day passed, he had not finished, after that, another day passed, he had not finished. He could not come to Gurudev for three-four days, and when he did come to Gurudev after that, Gurudev asked him, "Prabhu, I have not seen you for four days. Perhaps, you do not want to see my ugly face?" The devotee got shy, "No, Gurudev. Prabhu told me why I am sitting here, I should come with him, so I have been cleaning the kitchen during these days." Then Gurudev told him, "Oh, you think that if you clean something with another devotee, that is service, and if I tell you to sit here, it is not service? I want to tell you then what service is. If I tell you to sit here, you may think you are not doing anything, maybe you think there is no job here, but that is service—if your Guru tells you to sit here and do nothing, but you go to clean the kitchen with another brahmachari, then it is not service."

I was there when Gurudev said this to the devotee, and I heard it. That is the main thing: what our mind tells us to do is not service; service is what Gurudev tells us to do. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur told, "Satisfying the whims of your mind is not bhajan." Even if it looks like bhajan (worship, spiritual practice), if it is what our mind tells us to do, then it is not bhajan—service means serving your Guru and Vaishnavs under the guidance (anugatya) of your Guru and Vaishnavs; without the guidance of the Guru, what you are doing is not service.

I also remember Gurudev told me one story. One time, Srila Bhakti Dayita Madhav Maharaj, Srila Bhakti Saranga Goswami Maharaj, and Srila Bhakti Vichar Jajavar Maharaj were sitting together. Srila Madhusudan Maharaj and some other devotee (another sannyasi) were reading a newspaper, and Srila Goswami Maharaj asked Srila Jajavar Maharaj to pass him a newspaper. Srila Jajavar Maharaj was chanting the Holy Name at that time, and he did not want to leave his chanting beads, so as he was chanting with his right hand, he passed the newspaper to Srila Goswami Maharaj with his left hand. Then, Pujyapad Srila Bhakti Dayita Madhav Goswami Maharaj said, "When a Vaishnavs gives an order, that is Harinam." When a Vaishnav gives some order, even if it is something unimportant (for example, he tells you to bring a newspaper), that is service. What is Harinam? It is the order of a Vaishnav.


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