by Srila Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Goswami Maharaja
Most people do not finely differentiate between the two words, “jiva-seva” and “jive-daya”. Usually a person fails properly to understand the distinguishing characteristics of jiva-seva and jive-daya, and therefore ends up with an understanding that is completely opposite to the truth. In this world many people cherish the desire to be celebrated as “a great thinker”, “magnanimous”, “benevolent”, “a well-wisher of the society” and “a well-wisher of the world”; but because such people do not properly understand this subject, the culmination of all their efforts is like the labor of animals.
The people of the world are so engrossed in their bodily comforts and in fulfilling their selfish desires that if even a scent of an attitude to serve others is perceived in someone, it is greatly appreciated. Service to others (para-seva) is a virtue; however, if it becomes the deceiving of others (para-chalna), it can never be praise worthy. Simply applying the label “service” to acts of deception and propagating them as ‘service’, does not make them service in the true sense. Will the thoughtful and civilized human society of the twentieth century not consider this fact just once?
In the terms “para-seva” and “para-upakara”, the word “para” means “topmost”. In other words it means Paramatma-Vishnu. Thus the word “para” refers only to service to Paramatma, the topmost entity. In one sense,the jiva is also para (superior); however, as long as he has anarthas he is bound by the three modes of nature.
yaya sammohito jiva
paro ’pi manute ’nartham
Due to this external energy, the living entity, although transcendental to the three modes of material nature, thinks himself to be a material product and thus undergoes the reactions of material miseries. To render service to the jiva who has been conditioned from a time without beginning, whose consciousness is covered by the three modes of maya and who is distracted from his constitutional nature, is to render service to his condition plagued by anarthas. In other words service is rendered to enable him to fulfill his enjoying propensity.
Lord Gaurasundara Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu
Lord Gaurasundara Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu
Many considerations are inseparably tied to the concept of seva. First, one has to consider whether or not the entity to whom service is to be rendered is in fact sevya, an object worthy of worship; in other words, is he prabhu-tattva, the supreme worshipable reality? Second, service entails pleasing the object of service in a manner that is favourable to him. And third, one must consider the state of consciousness of the servant (sevaka) himself.
Is the jiva who has been averse to his constitutional nature and who has been covered by the three modes of material nature from a time without beginning, in fact prabhu-tattva? Will increasing the pleasure of one who possesses anarthas bring auspiciousness to him? And what benefit will the sevaka, who is trying to bring pleasure to others, derive from these acts? By answering these questions in an impartial manner we can observe that the term jiva-seva is itself not even logical. The jiva is never prabhu-tattva.
mayadhisa’ ‘maya-vasa’ – isvare-jive bheda
hena-jive isvara-saha kaha ta’ abheda
Sri Caitanya-caritamrita (Madhya 6.162)
The Lord is the master of all potencies, and the living entity is their servant. That is the difference between Lord and the living entity. However, you declare that the Lord and the living entities are one and the same.
The terms sevyabhimana (possessing the ego of being the object of service), sevakabhimana (possessing the ego of being the servant) and sevabhimana (possessing the ego of being one who renders service), are meaningless if they are used in relation to one who is bound by maya and if they are put into practice by offering that person sense enjoyment. To render service to debauchees, thieves, cheaters, donkeys, horses, trees and creepers, etc. is nothing but supplying sense enjoyment to jivas who are bound by maya. None of these entities is sevya, or prabhu-tattva.
A debauchee and a thief are both bound by maya. It is true that by providing a debauchee with a woman or by giving a thief another’s wealth, one renders service to them by furnishing them with sense enjoyment. However, it is also true that these persons will achieve only perpetual inauspiciousness, and by their association other jivas will surely suffer as well. Rendering service to a jiva bound by maya – that is, providing him with sense enjoyment, however well it may be dressed up – results only in the suffering of other jivas. This is because trying to satisfy the senses of a particular jiva bound by maya results in inauspiciousness for that jiva as well as in suffering for many other jivas.
In regard to jivas who are in the stage of bondage, the term jiva-seva (service to living entities) does not apply, yet the term jive-daya (compassion upon other living entities) is credible. And in relation to jivas who are in the liberated stage, vaishnava-seva is possible. But acting for the satisfaction of the jiva in his bound stage, while he still has anarthas, cannot be termed real seva. Only compassion (daya) can be shown to such a person.
Moreover, we cannot show daya to a liberated soul (mukta-purusha) – someone to whom we should render service. The term jiva-seva is irrational, but the terms guru-seva, vaishnava-seva and siva-seva are completely reasonable. To render service to or please the senses of guru and the Vaishnavas is essential. To serve those who are liberated from this world and to show compassion towards those who are bound to it are indeed suddha-sanatana-dharma, or the jiva’s unalloyed eternal occupation.
The jiva bound by maya is not Prabhu (Master). In other words he is not sevya-tattva, the supreme worshipable reality. Many who hear this conception will reveal their loyalty to the opinion of the Baulas [one of the sahajiya sects], in their attempt to deceitfully present the jiva as sevya-tattva and to thus try to proclaim the conditioned soul to be Narayana.
Those who follow the incorrect conception of the Baulas, consider the state of Lord Narayana, who is the controller of maya, to be the same as the state of those jivas who are bound by maya. Thus they name the living entities jiva-narayana (“living entity Narayana”), daridra-narayana (“poor Narayana”), asva-narayana (“horse Narayana”), mriga-narayana (“deer Narayana”), manushya-narayana (“human Narayana”) and so forth. They preach that the satisfaction of two mundane objects, the body and mind, is indeed service to Narayana. The terms daridra-narayana, manushyanarayana and so forth are as illogical and dishonest as saying “My clay pot is made of gold”. Simply adding the names “Narayana” or “Isvara” to the name of a jiva cannot convert that jiva into prabhu-tattva; rather, it makes him a hypocrite.
yas tu narayanam devam brahma-rudradi-daivataih
samatvenaiva vik sheta sa pashandi bhaved dhruvam
An atheist (pashandi) is one who considers great demigods such as Lord Brahma and Lord Siva to be equal to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Narayana.
Sriman Mahaprabu declares:
yei mudha kahe – jiva isvara haya ‘sama’
seita ‘pashandi’ haya, dande tare yama
Sri Caitanya-caritamrita (Madhya 18.115)
A foolish person who says that the Supreme is the same as the living entity is an atheist (pashandi), and he becomes subject to punishment by Yamaraja, the superintendent of death.
Daridratva, the state of poverty, is not the same as narayantva, the state of being Bhagavan (prabhutattva). Rather, the state of poverty is completely devoid of narayantva. A deer and a human are not the controllers of maya. Rather, they are controlled by maya. Narayana is constantly situated as the indwelling Supersoul within the poor, within animals and within humans; however the poor, the animals and humans cannot be regarded as Narayana. The external covering of maya leads one to perceive a living entity as poor, as an animal or as a human. Only when this covering and the influence of maya’s “throwing potency” are dispelled, can one clearly witness the real existence of the indwelling witness (Narayana) and the eternal nature of the pure jivatma, who is an amsa or part of Narayana.
Guru and Vaishnavas are not affected by the influence of the external potency of Narayana; therefore they are liberated (mukta), pure (suddha) and eternal (nitya). To render constant service to them is indeed the jiva’s eternal engagement. Guru and Vaishnavas are not in the category of ordinary jivas. As long as a jiva is seen to be conditioned, it is obligatory to show him compassion. And when a jiva is seen to be liberated, it is necessary to serve him. Maha-bhagavatas look upon all with equal vision – a cow, a horse, an ass and a dog eater– and they see everyone as a Vaishnava. With this knowledge they engage in rendering service to everyone. In their vision they do not imagine or impose transcendence upon mundane phenomena. For instance, they do not see the poor as Narayana, humans as Narayana or the deer as Narayana. This is the misconception of the Baulas or the Mayavadis.
Maha-bhagavatas do not imagine the jivatma to be Narayana; therefore they do not render transitory service to the covering of maya or to the phenomena of the mundane body and mind, which is nothing but the transformation of maya’s “throwing potency”. Their seva is eternal and their ego as a servant of Bhagavan is also eternal.
What depth of knowledge and intelligence do those persons possess who create chaos in the name of jiva-seva or imagine that service to “poor Narayana”, “human Narayana” and “deer Narayana” is real service, and in so doing try to establish themselves as great benevolent religious leaders and philanthropists before the ignorant masses of the world? Thoughtful people can easily see through this. However, these fashionable arguments can weaken even wise thinkers within human society and cause them to be deluded by these ordinary matters.
Sri Bhagavata does not mention anything about jiva-seva. Its message is to render service unto Sri Hari, guru and Vaishnavas and have compassion upon the conditioned souls. In the example of King Bharata, Sri Bhagavata shows us that the great rishi Bharata brought obstacles to his own path of self-realisation and to his supreme auspiciousness by serving a jiva in the conditioned state who had the body of a deer. By denouncing such jiva-seva, Sri Bhagavata informs us of the conceptions of devotees who are madhyama- and uttama-bhagavatas.
baliseshu dvishatsu ca
yah karoti sa madhyamah
A madhyama-bhagavata is one who loves Isvara, isfriendly towards His bhaktas, shows mercy towards those who are ignorant of bhakti, and neglects those who are inimical to Isvara or His bhaktas.
sarva-bhuteshu yah pasyed
bhutani bhagavaty atmany
One who sees his own bhagavad-bhava, ecstatic mood of attraction towards Sri Krishnacandra, in the hearts of all jivas (sarva-bhuteshu) and sees all beings within Krishnacandra is an uttama-bhagavata.
sthavara jangama dekhe na dekhe tara murti
sarvatra haya nija ishta-deva-sphurti
Sri Caitanya-caritamrita (Madhya 8.274)
The maha-bhagavata certainly sees everything that is moving and non-moving, but he does not exactly see their forms. Rather, wherever he looks he sees the manifestation of the form of his most worshipable Lord.
A madhyama-adhikari Vaishnava should render service to one who is an uttama-adhikari, and he should do so for the uttama-adhikari’s happiness and satisfaction. The madhyama-adhikari Vaishnava should care for him in every respect, even rendering menial service to him; but he should not try to satisfy the senses of the conditioned souls, because by this he will gain no eternal welfare or auspiciousness either for himself or for others. We have to always keep in mind that when the atma’s eternal relationship with Krishna is awakened, the sole object of the atma’s eternal function – which is service (seva) – is Sri Hari, guru and Vaishnavas. In other words, service should be rendered to the independent, pure form of Bhagavan in Vaikuntha (bhagavatasvarupa) and to Bhagavan’s expansions (tad-rupavaibhava), but not to the bound jivas or to the external energy (pradhana).
Because we have forgotten our svarupa and lack transcendental intelligence, the service we perform with the body and mind is synonymous with enjoyment based on gratifying the mundane senses. The object of such service is not Bhagavan and His expansions; rather, it is the conditioned soul and the material energy. Neither of these is a pure, conscious entity of
Vaikuntha. Presently the consciousness of the conditioned soul is averse to Krishna. To redirect that consciousness toward Krishna is to show the jiva the highest form of compassion.
Jiva-seva is never possible. In other words, the function of the jiva’s transcendental senses can never be used to provide sense pleasure to the conscious entities who are covered by non-reality or ignorance. Rather, the function of his transcendental senses is to constantly be engaged in executing service for the pleasure of Isvara, the Lord of the entire conscious and non-conscious creation, and to His consort Isvari. This is a fact.
The terms jive-daya and vaishnava-seva are logical and bestow supreme auspiciousness. Sriman Mahaprabhu displayed the ideal of this jive-daya and vaishnava-seva. By performing kirtana of Bhagavan’s glories, amandodaya-daya, or pure compassion which never diminishes at any point in time and which never gives negative results, is shown to an unlimited number of bound jivas. And by rendering service to the Vaishnavas who are performing kirtana in a way that is favourable in every respect, the soul’s function fully awakens.
By personally preaching bhagavata-katha from village to village and by engaging His devotees as preachers, Mahaprabhu presented the example of amandodaya-daya. Furthermore He also demonstrated the ideal of service to Vaishnavas who are constantly engaged in kirtana. We have to always remember that if we transgress the teachings of Srimad-Bhagavatam and Sriman Mahaprabhu by becoming engrossed in modern opinions born of mental speculation, we will
in fact be deceived of service to Bhagavan. After hearing a lengthy discourse on jiva-seva we should not go on to become Mayavadis, Baulas, prakrita-sahajiyas or cit-jada-samanvyavadis (persons who equate transcendence with worldliness) and thus deviate from the genuine path. May jive-daya and vaishnava-seva be our sole ideal. May jive-daya, name-ruci and vaishnavaseva be our sole guiding principles.
Translated from Sri Gaudiya Patrika Year 15, Issue 4
by the Rays of The Harmonist team.
Published in English for the first time in Rays of The Harmonist No. 12 Gaura-purnima 2003