Dear Srimati Lilavati Devi dasi,
Please accept my humble obeisances.
I’m both surprised and very unfit to receive your donation and will have to consult with Uddharan prabhu on how to use this sum of money, especially as our preaching front is non existent! — Srimati Lilavati Devi, email dated 2/20/18
These are also my feelings and thoughts whenever I receive a donation for the service of our Divine Masters. But it is not fully correct to think in this way. If, during Srila Gurudeva’s lifetime, I was passing through England and gave you fifty dollars and asked you to please give it to Srila Gurudeva when he next visits London, I doubt you would feel such shyness. It is not so much money. So, even if you lost it before you were able to deliver it to His Divine Grace, you could probably manage to replace it with some other money you have or could collect by some means.
What I have given you is not much different from the fifty dollars described in the above scenario. I am a servant of His Divine Grace. You are also his servant. Our money is his money. But instead of asking you to give it to him directly, I am giving it to you to spend for his seva. Either way, what you will do with the fifty dollars is seva to Sri Sri Guru Gauranga; whether you hand the money to Them directly, or spend it for Their seva.
You may think of it as a type of seed. A seed may be very small but if planted and given proper nourishment it may grow and produce many fruits or flowers. Even the smallest thing we receive, if utilized properly, will produce many wonderful fruits from the tree of devotional service.
In Sri Vrndavana Dhama devotees collect leaves for making cups, they also collect water and firewood; they milk cows, make ghee, yogurt, etc. They grow and collect flowers, fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, etc. Even if they are not collecting money, they are collecting and doing many things for the service of Krishna, either directly or indirectly. They may not give these things directly to Krishna. They may give them to, or do them for, their sons, daughters, wives, husbands, friends, cows, etc. But it is all very pleasing to Krishna for they are all His devotees.
hy asvatantra iva dvija
śrī-bhagavān uvāca — the Supreme Personality of Godhead said; aham — I; bhakta-parādhīnaḥ — am dependent on the will of My devotees; hi — indeed; asvatantraḥ — am not independent; iva — exactly like that; dvija — O brāhmaṇa; sādhubhiḥ — by pure devotees, completely free from all material desires; grasta-hṛdayaḥ — My heart is controlled; bhaktaiḥ — because they are devotees; bhakta-jana-priyaḥ — I am dependent not only on My devotee but also on My devotee’s devotee (the devotee’s devotee is extremely dear to Me).
The Supreme Personality of Godhead said to the brāhmaṇa: I am completely under the control of My devotees. Indeed, I am not at all independent. Because My devotees are completely devoid of material desires, I sit only within the cores of their hearts. What to speak of My devotee, even those who are devotees of My devotee are very dear to Me.
CC Madhya 11.31
viṣṇor ārādhanaṁ param
tasmāt parataraṁ devi
ārādhanānām — of varieties of worship; sarveṣām — all; viṣṇoḥ — of Lord Viṣṇu; ārādhanam — worship; param— the most exalted; tasmāt — and above such worship of Lord Viṣṇu; parataram — of greater value; devi — O goddess; tadīyānām — of persons in relationship with Lord Viṣṇu; samarcanam — rigid and firm worship.
“[Lord Śiva told the goddess Durgā:] ‘My dear Devī, although the Vedas recommend worship of demigods, the worship of Lord Viṣṇu is topmost. However, above the worship of Lord Viṣṇu is the rendering of service to Vaiṣṇavas, who are related to Lord Viṣṇu.’
Spiritual life can never be successful without service to Krishna’s devotees.
And who are we but the servant of the servant of the servant of Sri Sri Guru Gauranga Gandharvika Giridharijiu?
CC Madhya 13.80
nāhaṁ vipro na ca nara-patir nāpi vaiśyo na śūdro
nāhaṁ varṇī na ca gṛha-patir no vanastho yatir vā
gopī-bhartuḥ pada-kamalayor dāsa-dāsānudāsaḥ
na — not; aham — I; vipraḥ — a brāhmaṇa; na — not; ca — also; nara-patiḥ — a king or kṣatriya; na — not; api— also; vaiśyaḥ — belonging to the mercantile class; na — not; śūdraḥ — belonging to the worker class; na — not; aham — I; varṇī — belonging to any caste, or brahmacārī (A brahmacārī may belong to any caste) Anyone can become a brahmacārī, or lead a life of celibacy); na — not; ca — also; gṛha-patiḥ — householder; no — not; vana-sthaḥ — vānaprastha, one who, after retirement from family life, goes to the forest to learn how to be detached from family life; yatiḥ — mendicant or renunciant; vā — either; kintu — but; prodyan — brilliant; nikhila — universal; parama-ānanda — with transcendental bliss; pūrṇa — complete; amṛta-abdheḥ — who is the ocean of nectar; gopī-bhartuḥ — of the Supreme Person, who is the maintainer of the gopīs; pada-kamalayoḥ — of the two lotus feet; dāsa — of the servant; dāsa-anudāsaḥ — the servant of the servant.
“ ‘I am not a brāhmaṇa, I am not a kṣatriya, I am not a vaiśya or a śūdra. Nor am I a brahmacārī, a householder, a vānaprastha or a sannyāsī. I identify Myself only as the servant of the servant of the servant of the lotus feet of Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the maintainer of the gopīs. He is like an ocean of nectar, and He is the cause of universal transcendental bliss. He is always existing with brilliance.’ ”
This is verse 74 from the Padyāvalī, an anthology of verses compiled by Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī.
Considering all of the above, it seems very befitting that I should offer you something to give to Sri Sri Guru Gauranga by way of, and as, service to Their lotus feet.
In addition to the direct seva you are doing for the Deities and devotees there in our ashram, you are serving in many other ways, both seen and unseen.
If we liken preachers to an army, we can understand that just as an army is only the tip of the spear in a war effort, so the preachers are only the tip of the spear in our preaching efforts. In both cases they could not be successful without massive amounts of support from those who supply the men, money and materials for the effort.
So too with the seva of Sri Radha for Krishna. Although She is fully sufficient in Herself to satisfy Krishna in every respect, She expands unlimitedly to supply the massive support She envisions as necessary for Krishna’s full spectrum of enjoyment. Through Her hladini potency She expands unlimitedly as both female servitors in madhura rasa relationship to Krishna (Lalita, Vishakha, manjaris, etc.) and in all other servitors acting under the influence of Her hladini shakti:
Hlādinī is the personal manifestation of the blissfulness of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, by which He enjoys pleasure. . . . When the pleasure potency of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is exhibited by His grace in the person of a devotee, that manifestation is called love of God. “Love of God” is an epithet for the pleasure potency of the Lord. Therefore devotional service reciprocated between the Lord and His devotee is an exhibition of the transcendental pleasure potency of the Lord.
—CC Ādi 4.60
By way of Vaikuntha vrtti we can envision even the material world being harmonized as an integral part of the Lord’s personal satisfaction. Maya shakti is also His shakti. It must, therefore, exist for only one purpose; to give pleasure to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, for Whom everything exists.
Srila Prabhupada once told Satsvarupa Maharaja “Krishna’s head is important and Krishna’s tail is important.” I do not know whether you are serving Krishna’s head or tail, or something in between. But I believe you are trying your utmost to serve Krishna. Therefore, I am obligated to help you in your seva by whatever means is available to me.
At the same time, you are obligated to accept my help, because I have no means to serve the Lord except by serving His devotees. Perhaps you see this forcefulness of mine as a form of cruelty on my part. Still, I think such cruelty should be accepted; because we have a cruel Master, and we have to tolerate His cruelty in whatever form it is dispensed.
It is my duty to give charity on my birthday. So, please indulge me by accepting my small offering for your seva to the Deities, devotees and our Ashram there in England. I am sure there are thousands of ways it can be spent that will be useful in these activities.
Srila Govinda Maharaja always gave me a new set of cloth on his appearance day. I happily accepted it. Srila Sridhara Maharaja told Jaya Tirtha Maharaja he should distribute charity on his birthday. I am simply trying to follow the behavior and direction of our gurus, as much as is possible by me.
I just read the below. It is both beautiful and poignant. I think you will appreciate it.
Prabhupada: Anyway, we call thela, in India. So the thela, in that cart there was sufficient load. So one side of the thela there was the wife, and the other side was the husband, and they had a little child, and that child was put up on the load. You see? And they were pulling. That means the husband and wife, working as God has given them to work. So they’re working, taking care of the child. So after earning money, they’ll go home. They have got a little cottage, and the wife will cook, the husband will eat, and they’re peaceful. They’re peaceful. It doesn’t matter whether first-class eating, second-class… It doesn’t matter. But still, they have got a home, and there they live peacefully. The wife cooks for the husband, and the husband eats, and the child is also taken care. It is not killed. There is peaceful. Peacefulness there is.
But here, the advanced civilization, the mother is killing the child, abortion. You see? Still, it is called advancement. Mother’s duty is to take care of the child, motherly affection. Woman is meant for that. And now the problem is the mother doesn’t want children. You see? And to avoid children, they are killing. Regularly they are killing. So what is the use of this civilization? Because you are becoming implicated in sinful activities, and therefore you’ll have to be punished. You cannot escape the punishment of God as you can escape the punishment of the state. No. You have no right to kill even an ant without any purpose, without any sanction. So they do not know.
—Srila Prabhupada lecture, Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.16.23 — January 19, 1974, Honolulu
We should collect as much as possible of the things of this world and utilize them for the service of Sri Sri Guru Gauranga. You should not be too shy in this regard. Whatever is not collected for Their seva will be utilized for other things, often for very evil purposes. Whoever gives you something for the seva of Sri Sri Guru Gauranga will profit beyond anyone’s wildest dreams.
Finally, we must not forget:
Upadeśāmṛta, Text Four
guhyam ākhyāti pṛcchati
bhuṅkte bhojayate caiva
dadāti — gives charity; pratigṛhṇāti — accepts in return; guhyam — conﬁdential topics; ākhyāti — explains; pṛcchati — inquires; bhuṅkte — eats; bhojayate — feeds; ca — also; eva — certainly; ṣaṭ-vidham — six kinds; prīti— of love; lakṣaṇam — symptoms.
Offering gifts in charity, accepting charitable gifts, revealing one’s mind in conﬁdence, inquiring conﬁdentially, accepting prasāda and offering prasāda are the six symptoms of love shared by one devotee and another.
I pray this finds you and Sriman Uddharan well in health and spirits.
Swami B.K. Giri