The Attitude of a Servant: Being the Seen not the Seer
by Sri Srimad Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Gosvami Maharaja
It is mentioned in Sri Hari-bhakti-sudhodaya (13.2):
akñëoù phalaà tvädåça-darçanaà hi
tanoù phalaà tvädåça-gätra-saìgaù
jihvä-phalaà tvädåça-kértanaà hi
sudurlabhä bhägavatä hi loke
Devotees of Bhagavän are extremely rare in this world. Therefore the perfection of the eyes is to see them, the perfection of the body is to touch them and the perfection of the tongue is to glorify them. Upon seeing the title of this essay and reading this verse, many people will object to this essay even before reading it. Offering our brothers, the readers, prostrated obeisances (säñöäìga-pranämas) and keeping a straw between our teeth, we earnestly beseech them to hear us. By submissively approaching the lotus feet of an äcärya who is the personified conclusion and the manifested embodiment of çästra, we can understand that our consideration of çästra is based on external perception and is nothing but the whim of our minds. Whatever çästra refutes or rejects we, according to our desire, accept as the subject and essence of çästra.
In this verse, a fortunate person who has been blessed by darçana of a bhägavad-bhakta is overwhelmed with bliss. He says, “To have the darçanaof a Vaiñëava is indeed the perfection of the eyes, to touch him is the perfection of the body and to glorify him is the perfection of the tongue, because in this world such bhägavad-bhaktas are rare.
” Such a statement has been delivered by the servant of a Vaiñëava at his lotus feet, after the servant has received the Vaiñëava’s mercy and been overwhelmed by gratitude for him. Unless a Vaiñëava bestows his mercy upon us and reveals his svarüpa, there is no possibility of us knowing and understanding him. When the Vaiñëava mercifully reveals his svarüpa, the jéva remembers his previous mundane, sensual, worldly perception of that Vaiñëava and he naturally feels a deep anguish in his heart. That specific form of the Vaiñëava who is devoted to the service of Bhagavän, attracts him to such an extent that as soon as a previous mundane conception of the Vaiñëava appears on the path of his memory he feels disgusted by it.
It is stated in the above verse, akñëoù phalaà tvädåçadarçanaà hi – the perfection of the eyes is to have darçana of a Vaiñëava. In such darçana the mood to render service under that Vaiñëava’s guidance is indeed expressed. Vaiñëavas know no one other than Bhagavän. In turn, the vaiñëava-sevaka knows nothing but rendering service according to the direction of the Vaiñëava.
This sevana-dharma, service attitude, of the servant does not aim at attaining his own enjoyment through acts of seeing and touching that Vaiñëava. Bhagavän and Bhagavän’s devotees only accept our nature (svarüpa) that is devoted to service. They never accept our mundane nature, which is devoid of service.
Bhagavän is not a mundane entity (präkåta-vastu). Similarly, the çuddha jévätmä is also not a mundane entity. In his pure state, the jévätmä is naturally devoted to service that pleases Bhagavän. The intense eagerness for the darçana of Bhagavän that is observed in him is solely to render service to Bhagavän. The perfection of the sevaka’s feet in visiting the dhäma of Bhagavän is to attain the service of Bhagavän. He cleans the temple of Viñëu with his hands, thus enhancing Bhagavän’s pleasure. The sevaka’s two eyes become blessed by collecting all types of beautiful objects solely for the service of Bhagavän. With the help of his nostrils the sevaka is led to gather various fragrant objects to assist in satisfying Bhagavän. With his tongue the sevaka performs the kértana of Bhagavän’s name, form, qualities and pastimes, thus enhancing His bliss.
Besides this, he offers extremely tasteful foodstuffs to Bhagavän, having examined them with his tongue. The sevaka (the worshipper) has a spiritual body so that the sevya (worshipful) Bhagavän can experience the pleasure of touch from that sevaka. The Vaisnavas of the Sri-sampradäyaare devoted to the conception of vidhi-märga, or regulated devotional service, and cannot embrace the purport of this in their hearts. However, in comparison, the service in the higher adhikära of the Gauòéya Vaiñëavas devoted to the path of räga, or deep attachment, attains the highest extent of perfection for all the senses by this method only.
We have entitled this essay: “The Attitude of a Servant: Being the Seen, not the Seer.” This means that one should not consider himself the subject (seer) of Bhagavän. A person should never hurry to have darçana of Bhagavän with the aim of self enjoyment. When a person has käma, or the desire to please his own senses, the door to the transcendental abode of Bhagavän closes to him. And when mundane endeavours for personal enjoyment and false renunciation have been completely eliminated from the heart that has been illuminated by exclusive surrender to Kåñëa (kåñëaika çaraëatä), the servant’s sole disposition is to execute service exclusively for the pleasure of Bhagavän.
The transcendental gopés of Vraja dress solely for the pleasure of Kåñëa. Phalgutva, to falsely renounce that which pleases Kåñëa can never result in finding a place in hearts. Their obsession for Kåñëa is solely to render service to Him. Their act of looking at Kåñëa’s lotus face without blinking their eyelids, is also for enhancing His bliss. When Kåñëa sees that the gopés are looking at Him, He becomes delighted. Knowing this the gopés are exclusively intent on attaining darçana of Him. When they look at Kåñëa, it is not with the intention of personal enjoyment by being the subject (seer). In other words, they become visible to Kåñëa; they become the object seen by Him. Only to give Kåñëa bliss do they ‘show’ Him their nature (svarüpa), which is completely devoted to His service. Here the act of ‘showing’ does not express their ego, but indicates the excellence of their service.
Thousands and thousands of pilgrims visit holy places in order to have darçana of Bhagavän. Although most think that they received His darçana, they are actually unlimited miles away from receiving it. When one has actually attained darçana of Bhagavän, he is unable to utter statements like, “The deity is made of wood”, “The deity is made of stone”, “The deity is made of clay” and “Jagannätha is devoid of hands and legs”.
Their act of ‘seeing’ is endowed with the spirit of personal enjoyment, which is not the spirit of a servant of Bhagavän. Such statements show that their very act of ‘seeing’ Bhagavän concealed, or barred, their sight. Many have lost the path by which they can have darçana of Bhagavän, being covered by the darkness of the newmoon night (the spirit of personal enjoyment). Therefore, for their deliverance my çré gurupäda-padma has cautioned: “Do not go to see Jagannätha with a spirit of personal enjoyment, which is born of aversion for Him and which is prevalent in this world. Enter the temple of Çré Jagadéça carrying the necessary ingredients, that is, a service attitude that delights Jagannätha.
“Always keep in mind that the act of ‘seeing’ Jagannätha with mundane eyes is not how a servant sees Him. The servant’s disposition is to show Him the nature (svarüpa) of his service attitude – in other words, to become the object (the seen). It means to come within His sight in such a way that delights the worshipful Bhagavän. The servant’s attitude is not to derive pleasure himself by seeing Bhagavän. Rather, brilliantly situated within the servant’s heart is the attitude – ‘Bhagavän will be delighted by seeing me.’ ”
Translated from Sri Gaudiya Patrika, Year 7, Issue 9
by the Rays of The Harmonist team.
Published in English for the first time in Rays of The Harmonist No. 11 kartikka 2002