Reporting for Service

Srila Prabhupada with cane

This morning I went into our temple room, as I do every morning, and offered my obeisances. As I was saying my morning prayers this thought just entered my mind; ‘Vyasasan das, reporting for service”. It seemed like a strange thing to be thinking so early in the morning, and I do not recall ever thinking like that before. But almost immediately, I was reminded of this verse from the Bhagavad-gita:

O son of Kuntī, all that you do, all that you eat, all that you offer and give away, as well as all austerities that you may perform, should be done as an offering unto Me.

I could not remember at first, what chapter and verse, but I went to the Bhagavad-gita As It Is, and began searching…Oh yes, I remember Chapter Nine, Text 27…and the purport reads:

…Everyone has to work for maintenance of his body and soul together, and Kṛṣṇa recommends herein that one should work for Him. Everyone has to eat something to live; therefore he should accept the remnants of foodstuffs offered to Kṛṣṇa. Any civilized man has to perform some religious ritualistic ceremonies; therefore Kṛṣṇa recommends, “Do it for Me,” and this is called arcanā. Everyone has a tendency to give something in charity; Kṛṣṇa says, “Give it to Me,”

This is real renunciation, real yoga; always thinking and planning how to serve the Lord. And for one brief moment in my life, my mind was right.

Bhagavad-gītā As It Is 1972 Edition
By His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda
Chapter Nine, Text 22-28

TEXT 22

ananyāś cintayanto māṁ
ye janāḥ paryupāsate
teṣāṁ nityābhiyuktānāṁ
yoga-kṣemaṁ vahāmy aham

ananyāḥ—no other; cintayantaḥ—concentrating; mām—unto Me; ye—who; janāḥ—persons; paryupāsate—properly worship; teṣām—their; nitya—always abhiyuktānām—fixed in devotion; yoga-kṣemam—requirements; vahāmi—carry; aham—I.

TRANSLATION

But those who worship Me with devotion, meditating on My transcendental form—to them I carry what they lack and preserve what they have.

PURPORT

One who is unable to live for a moment without Kṛṣṇa consciousness cannot but think of Kṛṣṇa twenty-four hours, being engaged in devotional service by hearing, chanting, remembering, offering prayers, worshiping, serving the lotus feet of the Lord, rendering other services, cultivating friendship and surrendering fully to the Lord. Such activities are all auspicious and full of spiritual potencies; indeed, they make the devotee perfect in self-realization. Then his only desire is to achieve the association of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This is called yoga. By the mercy of the Lord, such a devotee never comes back to this material condition of life. Kṣema refers to the merciful protection of the Lord. The Lord helps the devotee to achieve Kṛṣṇa consciousness by yoga, and when he becomes fully Kṛṣṇa conscious the Lord protects him from falling down to a miserable conditioned life.

TEXT 23

ye ’py anya-devatā-bhaktā
yajante śraddhayānvitāḥ
te ’pi mām eva kaunteya
yajanty avidhi-pūrvakam

ye—those; api—also; anya—other; devatā—demigods; bhaktāḥ—devotees; yajante—worship; śraddhaya-anvitāḥ—with faith; te—they; api—also; mām—Me; eva—even; kaunteya—O son of Kuntī; yajanti—sacrifice; avidhi-pūrvakam—in a wrong way.

TRANSLATION

Whatever a man may sacrifice to other gods, O son of Kuntī, is really meant for Me alone, but it is offered without true understanding.

PURPORT

“Persons who are engaged in the worship of demigods are not very intelligent, although such worship is done to Me indirectly,” Kṛṣṇa says. For example, when a man pours water on the leaves and branches of a tree without pouring water on the root, he does so without sufficient knowledge or without observing regulative principles. Similarly, the process of rendering service to different parts of the body is to supply food to the stomach. The demigods are, so to speak, different officers and directors in the government of the Supreme Lord. One has to follow the laws made by the government, not by the officers or directors. Similarly, everyone is to offer his worship to the Supreme Lord only. That will automatically satisfy the different officers and directors of the Lord. The officers and directors are engaged as representatives of the government, and to offer some bribe to the officers and directors is illegal. This is stated here as avidhi-pūrvakam. In other words, Kṛṣṇa does not approve the unnecessary worship of the demigods.

TEXT 24

ahaṁ hi sarva-yajñānāṁ
bhoktā ca prabhur eva ca
na tu mām abhijānanti
tattvenātaś cyavanti te

aham—I; hi—surely; sarva—of all; yajñānām—sacrifices; bhoktā—enjoyer; ca—and; prabhuḥ—Lord; eva—also; ca—and; na—not; tu—but; mām—Me; abhijānanti—know; tattvena—in reality; ataḥ—therefore; cyavanti—fall down; te—they.

TRANSLATION

I am the only enjoyer and the only object of sacrifice. Those who do not recognize My true transcendental nature fall down.

PURPORT

Here it is clearly stated that there are many types of yajña performances recommended in the Vedic literatures, but actually all of them are meant for satisfying the Supreme Lord. Yajña means Viṣṇu. In the Second Chapter of Bhagavad-gītā it is clearly stated that one should only work for satisfying Yajña or Viṣṇu. The perfectional form of human civilization, known as varṇāśrama-dharma, is specifically meant for satisfying Viṣṇu. Therefore, Kṛṣṇa says in this verse, “I am the enjoyer of all sacrifices because I am the supreme master.” However, less intelligent persons, without knowing this fact, worship demigods for temporary benefit. Therefore they fall down to material existence and do not achieve the desired goal of life. If, however, anyone has any material desire to be fulfilled, he had better pray for it to the Supreme Lord (although that is not pure devotion), and he will thus achieve the desired result.

TEXT 25

yānti deva-vratā devān
pitṝn yānti pitṛ-vratāḥ
bhūtāni yānti bhūtejyā
yānti mad-yājino ’pi mām

yānti—achieve; deva-vratāḥ—worshipers of demigods; devān—to demigods; pitṝn—to ancestors; yānti—go; pitṛ-vratāḥ—worshipers of ancestors; bhūtāni—to ghosts and spirits; yānti—go; bhūtejyāḥ—worshipers of ghosts and spirits; yānti—go; mat—My; yājinaḥ—devotees; api—also; mām—unto Me.

TRANSLATION

Those who worship the demigods will take birth among the demigods; those who worship ghosts and spirits will take birth among such beings; those who worship ancestors go to the ancestors; and those who worship Me will live with Me.

PURPORT

If anyone has any desire to go to the moon, the sun, or any other planet, one can attain the desired destination by following specific Vedic principles recommended for that purpose. These are vividly described in the fruitive activities portion of the Vedas, technically known as darśa-paurṇamāsī, which recommends a specific worship of demigods situated on different heavenly planets. Similarly, one can attain the pitā planets by performing a specific yajña. Similarly, one can go to many ghostly planets and become a yakṣa, rakṣa or piśāca. Piśāca worship is called “black arts” or “black magic.” There are many men who practice this black art, and they think that it is spiritualism, but such activities are completely materialistic. Similarly, a pure devotee, who worships the Supreme Personality of Godhead only, achieves the planets of Vaikuṇṭha and Kṛṣṇaloka without a doubt. It is very easy to understand through this important verse that if by simply worshiping the demigods one can achieve the heavenly planets, or by worshiping the pitā achieve the pitā planets, or by practicing the black arts achieve the ghostly planets, why can the pure devotee not achieve the planet of Kṛṣṇa or Viṣṇu? Unfortunately many people have no information of these sublime planets where Kṛṣṇa and Viṣṇu live, and because they do not know of them they fall down. Even the impersonalists fall down from the brahmajyoti. This Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is therefore distributing sublime information to the entire human society to the effect that by simply chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra one can become perfect in this life and go back home, back to Godhead.

TEXT 26

patraṁ puṣpaṁ phalaṁ toyaṁ
yo me bhaktyā prayacchati
tad ahaṁ bhakty-upahṛtam
aśnāmi prayatātmanaḥ
patram—a leaf; puṣpam—a flower; phalam—a fruit; toyam—water; yaḥ—whoever; me—unto Me; bhaktyā—with devotion; prayacchati—offers; tat—that; aham—I; bhakti-upahṛtam—offered in devotion; aśnāmi—accept; prayata-ātmanaḥ—of one in pure consciousness.

TRANSLATION

If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, fruit a water, I will accept it.

PURPORT

Here Lord Kṛṣṇa, having established that He is the only enjoyer, the primeval Lord, and the real object of all sacrificial offerings, reveals what types of sacrifices He desires to be offered. If one wishes to engage in devotional service to the Supreme in order to be purified and to reach the goal of life—the transcendental loving service of God—then he should find out what the Lord desires of him. One who loves Kṛṣṇa will give Him whatever He wants, and he avoids offering anything which is undesirable or unasked for. Thus, meat, fish and eggs should not be offered to Kṛṣṇa. If He desired such things as offerings, He would have said so. Instead He clearly requests that a leaf, fruit, flowers and water be given to Him, and He says of this offering, “I will accept it.” Therefore, we should understand that He will not accept meat, fish and eggs. Vegetables, grains, fruits, milk and water are the proper foods for human beings and are prescribed by Lord Kṛṣṇa Himself. Whatever else we eat cannot be offered to Him, since He will not accept it. Thus we cannot be acting on the level of loving devotion if we offer such foods.

In the Third Chapter, verse thirteen, Śrī Kṛṣṇa explains that only the remains of sacrifice are purified and fit for consumption by those who are seeking advancement in life and release from the clutches of the material entanglement. Those who do not make an offering of their food, He says in the same verse, are said to be eating only sin. In other words, their every mouthful is simply deepening their involvement in the complexities of material nature. But preparing nice, simple vegetable dishes, offering them before the picture or Deity of Lord Kṛṣṇa and bowing down and praying for Him to accept such a humble offering, enable one to advance steadily in life, to purify the body, and to create fine brain tissues which will lead to clear thinking. Above all, the offering should be made with an attitude of love. Kṛṣṇa has no need of food, since He already possesses everything that be, yet He will accept the offering of one who desires to please Him in that way. The important element, in preparation, in serving and in offering, is to act with love for Kṛṣṇa.

The impersonalist philosophers, who wish to maintain that the Absolute Truth is without senses, cannot comprehend this verse of Bhagavad-gītā. To them, it is either a metaphor or proof of the mundane character of Kṛṣṇa, the speaker of the Gītā. But, in actuality, Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Godhead, has senses, and it is stated that His senses are interchangeable; in other words, one sense can perform the function of any other. This is what it means to say that Kṛṣṇa is absolute. Lacking senses, He could hardly be considered full in all opulences. In the Seventh Chapter, Kṛṣṇa has explained that He impregnates the living entities into material nature. This is done by His looking upon material nature. And so in this instance, Kṛṣṇa’s hearing the devotee’s words of love in offering foodstuffs is wholly identical with His eating and actually tasting. This point should be emphasized: because of His absolute position, His hearing is wholly identical with His eating and tasting. Only the devotee, who accepts Kṛṣṇa as He describes Himself, without interpretation, can understand that the Supreme Absolute Truth can eat food and enjoy it.

TEXT 27

yat karoṣi yad aśnāsi
yaj juhoṣi dadāsi yat
yat tapasyasi kaunteya
tat kuruṣva mad-arpaṇam

yat—what; karoṣi—you do; yat—whatever; aśnāsi—you eat; yat—whatever; juhoṣi—you offer; dadāsi—you give away; yat—whatever; yat—whatever; tapasyasi—austerities you perform; kaunteya—O son of Kuntī; tat—that; kuruṣva—make; mat—unto Me; arpaṇam—offering.

TRANSLATION

O son of Kuntī, all that you do, all that you eat, all that you offer and give away, as well as all austerities that you may perform, should be done as an offering unto Me.

PURPORT

Thus, it is the duty of everyone to mold his life in such a way that he will not forget Kṛṣṇa in any circumstance. Everyone has to work for maintenance of his body and soul together, and Kṛṣṇa recommends herein that one should work for Him. Everyone has to eat something to live; therefore he should accept the remnants of foodstuffs offered to Kṛṣṇa. Any civilized man has to perform some religious ritualistic ceremonies; therefore Kṛṣṇa recommends, “Do it for Me,” and this is called arcanā. Everyone has a tendency to give something in charity; Kṛṣṇa says, “Give it to Me,” and this means that all surplus money accummulated should be utilized in furthering the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement. Nowadays people are very much inclined to the meditational process, which is not practical in this age, but if anyone practices meditating on Kṛṣṇa twenty-four hours by chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra round his beads, he is surely the greatest yogī, as substantiated by the Sixth Chapter of Bhagavad-gītā.

TEXT 28

śubhāśubha-phalair evaṁ
mokṣyase karma-bandhanaiḥ
sannyāsa-yoga-yuktātmā
vimukto mām upaiṣyasi

śubha—good; aśubha—evil; phalaiḥ—results; evam—thus; mokṣyase—free; karma—action; bandhanaiḥ—bondage; sannyāsa—of renunciation; yoga—the yoga; yukta-ātmā—having the mind firmly set on; vimuktaḥ—liberated; mām—to Me; upaiṣyasi—you will attain.

TRANSLATION

In this way you will be freed from all reactions to good and evil deeds, and by this principle of renunciation you will be liberated and come to Me.

PURPORT

One who acts in Kṛṣṇa consciousness under superior direction is called yukta. The technical term is yukta-vairāgya. This is further explained by Rūpa Gosvāmī as follows.

Rūpa Gosvāmī says that as long as we are in this material world we have to act; we cannot cease acting. Therefore if actions are performed and the fruits are given to Kṛṣṇa, then that is called yukta-vairāgya. Actually situated in renunciation, such activities clear the mirror of the mind, and as the actor gradually makes progress in spiritual realization he becomes completely surrendered to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Therefore at the end he becomes liberated, and this liberation is also specified. By this liberation he does not become one with the brahmajyoti but rather enters into the planet of the Supreme Lord. It is clearly mentioned here: mām upaiṣyasi, “he comes to Me,” back home, back to Godhead. There are five different stages of liberation, and here it is specified that the devotee who has always lived his lifetime here under the direction of the Supreme Lord, as stated, has evolved to the point where he can, after quitting this body, go back to Godhead and engage directly in the association of the Supreme Lord.

Anyone who has no other interest but to dedicate his life to the service of the Lord is actually a sannyāsī Such a person always thinks of himself as an eternal servant, dependant on the supreme will of the Lord. As such, whatever he does, he does it for the benefit of the Lord. Whatever action he performs, he performs it as service to the Lord. He does not give serious attention to the fruitive activities or prescribed duties mentioned in the Vedas. For ordinary persons it is obligatory to execute the prescribed duties mentioned in the Vedas, but although a pure devotee who is completely engaged in the service of the Lord may sometimes appear to go against the prescribed Vedic duties, actually it is not so.

It is said, therefore, by Vaiṣṇava authorities that even the most intelligent person cannot understand the plans and activities of a pure devotee. The exact words are vaiṣṇavera kriyā mudrā vijñe nā bujhayā. A person who is thus always engaged in the service of the Lord or is always thinking and planning how to serve the Lord is to be considered completely liberated at present and in the future. His going home, back to Godhead, is guaranteed. He is above all materialistic criticism, just as Kṛṣṇa is above all criticism.

 Krsna and Arjuna

Text pasted from; Causless Mercy

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