The science of devotional service

February 2, 2011 Comments Off

When Lord Caitanya began His instructions to Rūpa Gosvāmī, He first told him, “My dear Rūpa, the science

of devotional service is just like the great ocean, and it is not

possible to show you all its length and breadth. However, I shall try to

explain the nature of that ocean by taking just one drop out of it. In

this way you can taste it and understand what that ocean of devotional

service actually is.


The Lord then explained that within this brahmā, or universe, there are innumerable living entities who, according to

their own fruitive activities, are transmigrating from one species of

life to another and from one planet to another. In this way their

encagement in material existence has been continuing since time

immemorial. In actuality, these living entities are atomic parts and

parcels of the supreme spirit. It is said in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam

that the length and breadth of the individual soul is approximately

1/10,000th part of the tip of a hair — in other words, it is so small

that it is invisible.


This is also confirmed in the Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad. In the Tenth Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, one of the four Kumāras, known as Sanandana,

gave the following speech upon performing a great sacrifice: “O Supreme

Truth! If the living entities were not infinitesimal sparks of the

supreme spirit, each minute spark would be all-pervading and would not

be controlled by a superior power. But if the living entity is accepted

as a minute part and parcel of the Supreme Lord he automatically becomes

controlled by a supreme energy or power. The latter is his actual

constitutional position, and if he remains in this position he can

attain full freedom.” (Bhāg. 10.87.30)

If one mistakenly considers his position to be equal to that of the

Supreme Personality of Godhead, he becomes contaminated by the doctrine

of nonduality, and his efforts in transcendental life are rendered



Lord Caitanya elaborated on these teachings of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam by pointing out that there are two kinds of living entities — the

eternally liberated and the eternally conditioned. The eternally

conditioned living entities can be divided into two types — moving and

nonmoving. Those entities which cannot move — like trees, for example —

remain in one place and are classified as nonmoving entities, and those

that move — such as the birds and beasts — are called jańgama (moving

entities) and are further divided into three categories: those that fly

in the sky, those that swim in the water, and those that walk on land.

Out of the many millions and trillions of living entities on land, human

beings comprise only a small portion. Out of that small number of human

beings, most are totally ignorant of spiritual life, are unclean in

their habits and have no faith in the existence of the Supreme

Personality of Godhead. In short, most human beings live like animals.

These can actually be deducted from the number of human beings that

comprise human or civilized life. It is very difficult to find a few

human beings who believe in the scriptures and the existence of God, or,

for that matter, in proper behavior. Those who do believe in the value

of these things are known as ārya, a word denoting those who believe in advancing

in spiritual life.


Out of those who believe in the value of the scriptures and the advancement of human civilization, there are two

classes — the righteous and the unrighteous. Those who are righteous

generally execute fruitive activities in order to derive some good

result for sense gratification. Out of many such persons who engage in

righteous activities for sense gratification, only a few come to know

about the Absolute Truth. These are called jñānīs, empiric philosophers.

Out of many hundreds and thousands of such empiric philosophers, only a

handful actually attain liberation. When one is liberated, he

theoretically understands that the living entity is not composed of

material elements but is spirit soul, distinct from matter. Simply by

theoretically understanding this doctrine, one can be called liberated,

but actually a mukta,

or liberated soul, is he who understands his constitutional position as

an eternal servant of the Lord. Such liberated souls engage with faith

and devotion in the service of the Lord, and they are called Krishna-bhaktas,

or Krishna

conscious persons.


Krishna-bhaktas are free from all material desires. Those who are liberated theoretically by knowing simply that the living

entity is not material may still have desires, although they may be

technically classified amongst liberated souls. Their main desire is to

become one with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Generally such

persons are very much attached to Vedic rituals and righteous

activities, performing them in order to enjoy material prosperity. Even

when some of them transcend material enjoyment, they still try to enjoy

the spiritual world by merging into the existence of the Supreme Lord.

Some of them are also desirous of attaining mystic powers through the

execution of yoga.


As long as these desires are within one’s heart, he cannot understand the

nature of pure devotional service. When one is constantly being agitated

by such desires, he is not peaceful. Indeed, as long as there is any

desire for material perfection at all, one cannot be at peace. Since the

devotees of Lord Krishna

do not desire anything material, they are the only peaceful persons

within this material world. This is confirmed in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam:

muktānām api siddhānā

nārāyaa-parāyaa sudurlabha praśāntātmākoiv api [links are written in a type font  this machine doesn't take]

mahāmune”O great sage, out of many millions of liberated persons and

persons who have achieved success in mystic yoga, one who is

completely devoted to the Supreme Personality of Godhead and who is

filled with peace is very hard to find.” (Bhāg. 6.14.5)


In this way Lord Caitanya

explained that of the many thousands and millions of living entities

wandering in the material world, one who by the grace of Lord Krishna and the

spiritual master gets the seed of devotional service is very rare and






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