The Path of Blessedness
BY SRILA BHAKTISIDDHANTA SARASWATI THAKURA
(REPRINTED FROM THE GAUDIYA, VOL. 31)
If we become arrogant after having adopted the path of devotion, if we worship only God and disregard the worship of His devotees, we could be put to manifold difficulties for our offense at the feet of the servants of God; we would be overtaken by the greatest of all misfortunes by being afflicted with apathy for the principle of devotion itself.
Human life is meant solely for the attainment of the supreme good. Why do I forget it? Why do I forget that I am the meanest and least of all entities? The ambition to lord it over others, to be great, to be an elevationist, or salvationist is brought about when we allow ourselves to fall victims to the temptations of the deluding energy of God. Such ambition is petty and useless. If there is any use in curbing one’s hankering after becoming great in the eyes of the world, if there is any use in gaining one’s real health, it is imperative to accept the line of thought of the Vaishnavas.
Those who are fit to possess abundant power of devotion, they are strong. I should not apply myself to find out the shortcomings of the Vaishnavas, or to condemn the service of Lord Vishnu or to seek to establish my own point of view, neglecting the method which I may be enabled to serve the Lord and His devotees. No language can describe the havoc that is wrought in human life by such arrogance. I make this submission with all humility, “May you kindly refrain from merely imitating the conduct of the Vaishnavas. May you always follow their line of thought.” There is no relationship for us other than with the devotees of Vishnu. Relationship with other persons can only aggravate the desire for sensuous gratification.
Many a year has now passed over me one by one. I at last realize that there is no other help for me than the mercy of the holy feet of the Vaishnavas. Every one of my acts is fit to be attacked. I pray to those who look down upon me, that if they consider that it is allowable for me to follow the conduct and the teachings of the Vaishnavas, they would no longer maintain that attitude. They will kindly impart to me the needful strength and fitness to communicate their power to those who are stupid and devoid of all strength.
One who serves Lord Hari counts himself the least of all entities. One is lifted to the highest order of the Vaishnavas when one can feel himself the least of all. One can then proclaim out the message of the highest devotion to Lord Hari.
“The best of all persons deems himself to be less than all others.” Such is the great dictum.
It is necessary for the best to scrutinize one’s ineligibility. Why should a person be anxious to pry into the defects of others when he does not seek to scrutinize his own conduct? Is this the disposition of the Vaishnavas? On the other hand, even those who are low in the scale of service may attain the highest level. Let us remember the texts: “Not to speak of persons who listen to and remember with care the instructions of the spiritual scriptures, even those who live by sin, viz. women, shudras, hunas, sabaras and
birds of the air can know God and prevail over His deluding power, if they follow the conduct of the devoted servants of the Lord, who covers all the worlds by His wonderful strides.”
“The acts and expressions of the Vaishnavas cannot be understood even by the wise.” The devotees are attached to the Lord, who pervades the worlds with His wonderful strides. Let us not be misled by the apparent sight. Many a person has been liable to mistake the pebble for the pearl, the snake for the rope, evil for good, by falling a victim to delusion by relying on apparent sight. It is only when a person allows himself to fall into the clutches of self-delusion that one’s senses show their eagerness for supplying the wants incidental to the phenomenal world by supposing himself to be an inhabitant of the same. We should consider well how we are to be delivered from being thus exploited by the deluding energy. It will never bring us relief if we adopt the lordly mentality for supplying our present inadequacies and for avoiding what certain hasty observers have been pleased to dub as “the slave mentality” of the devotees of God. Such mode of think accelerates our march towards the inferno by plunging us into the course of sensuous indulgences.
If we disregard or ignore the devotees of God for elevating ourselves, we would thereby be cast into the prison of three dimensions and spring towards inflation instead of construction. “I will be good; I will be cured of my mundane desires; I will have real well-being.” This is the proper kind of judgment. But it is not at all laudable to entertain the contrary thoughts, “I will be great, I will gratify my malice by stopping the course of the whole world.” It is by no means proper to set up one’s superiority against the worshipfulness of God’s devotees. The path of hearing to the transcendental world has been rendered devious by the misinterpretation of the text “aham brahmasmi.” I have listened to the true interpretation of the text at the lotus feet of my divine master. It is to this effect: “It is our eternal duty to chant constantly the name of Hari by being infinitely more truly humble than the smallest blade of grass, more truly forbearing than even the proverbially patient tree, and to honor others without seeking honor.
What persuasive courtesy, what humility do these words express! How great is the benefit, how great the good that we may have by listening to such words! We have it from the Talaba Upanishad that those who aspire to be master of the devotees, who are the masters of God Himself, are indeed most culpably arrogant. Srimad-Bhagavatam significantly declares, “Let those who profess to know God brag to their knowledge, but let me have nothing to do with such fellows.” This is all I have got to say in this matter.
Not one of the paths of this material world is a path of the service of the Divinity. The idea that one should be master of God’s devotees leads to inferno. It is harmful to follow any worldly path. To follow the devotees of God is the only path that leads to one’s real good. Whatever method is followed by the devotees is worthy of being cherished with the utmost love and reverence.
Holding the blade of straw between my teeth, I pray time and again for this only boon, that I may be a particle of dust on the lotus feet of the most revered Sri Rupa Gosvami Prabhu. Let there be birth after birth for us, that we may walk in the path of the followers of Sri Rupa by being the particle of dust on the lotus feet of the devotees of God. The root of it all is humility, or the due realization on one’s own ineligibility. If the conviction of our unfitness for the service of God is revealed to us either automatically or by the instruction of other persons, we are only then in a position to appreciate the beauty of the lotus feet of God’s devotees. In all the talks of the average people of this world, the idea that is uppermost is how to promote the gratification of one’s senses. If we happen to be obsessed with the idea that it is the path of religion, we would be prevented for good from becoming truly religious.