If the spiritual master does not know about the service of a disciple, then how does the disciple get the spiritual master’s mercy?

by Chaitanya CharanJanuary 19, 2024


Question – If a devotee is serving diligently, but the devotee’s service is not visible to the spiritual master, and another devotee is serving not so regularly, but very visibly in front of the spiritual master, and the mercy comes by the pleasing of the spiritual master, how does a devotee whose service is not visible get mercy?

Answer – Whenever we talk about the spiritual master, there are two distinct things, there is the person and the principle – the vyakti and the tattva . Or it can be termed as vapu seva and vani seva. Whenever we are trying to relate with the spiritual master, we need to know which aspect is going to come into play in that instance. Whenever the spiritual master is readily available for us, and we have an opportunity to do some service, we certainly need to grab that opportunity and try to serve and please the spiritual master. At the same time, this should not degenerate to a cheap attempt to somehow catch the attention of the spiritual master. Ultimately, it is a matter of developing a relationship with Krishna, and that relationship means doing everything that is required to be done in a relationship. If we are trying to serve earnestly, then we need to have the confidence that the spiritual master (as the principle) is non-different from Krishna. Even if our spiritual master is not consciously aware of the service that we are doing, but the services are being done by the disciples; then we should know that Krishna is noting that service and Krishna will give his mercy. That is why, when we see the spiritual master only as a person, the danger is we do not see the connection of the spiritual master with Krishna, and we think that the spiritual master’s pleasure is dependent on their knowing what the disciple has been doing specifically. We can see in our movement’s short history that there were many devotees who served visibly and prominently during Prabhupada’s time, and several of them had difficulties by which they discontinued their service later on. And many of the leaders of our movement now, who are clearly very dedicated and elevated in their realization, they had very little or no interaction directly with Srila Prabhupada, and still, we see their elevated spiritual stature, and their personal dedication to Srila Prabhupada also. How does this come about? It comes about by the principle of serving Krishna, and knowing that Krishna is noting the service. So, when the emphasis is there on the spiritual master, that – yasya prasadad bhagavat-prasado
yasyaprasadan na gatiḥ kuto pi (Sri Gurvastakam Verse 7) that by the spiritual master’s mercy, Krishna’s mercy comes and with his displeasure, Krishna’s mercy would not come; what that means is that we don’t make it an impersonal transaction, but we understand and emphasize the personal dimension of the relationship, and at the same time, we also recognize that while the relationship is personal, Krishna is not an ordinary person. Krishna is not limited to one place, just like we are limited to this form. Therefore, we see the point of pleasing the spiritual master as remembering the personal dimension of bhakti, and personal dimension of the relationship with Krishna.
To summarize in three points.
1) Whenever possible, we should try to please the spiritual master.
2) Even if the spiritual master doesn’t even know of our existence or service, Krishna knows; and Krishna will provide growth and fulfillment for us; culminating into love for him.
3) We see the emphasis on pleasing the spiritual master as an emphasis on the personal dimensions of bhakti, and how those dimensions need to be remembered and emphasized appropriately, without reducing Krishna to just a person like us in this world.

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Chaitanya Charan

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