Śrīla Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswāmī Mahārāj discusses the essence of Vaiṣṇavism.
Mahāprabhu said very clearly,
tṛnād api sunīchena taror api sahiṣṇunā
amāninā mānadena kīrtanīyaḥ sadā hariḥ
Who can chant properly the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahāmantra? One who is qualified in this way: who is very humble and who can tolerate everything. We must have the tolerating mood; we are always doing wrong in this mundane world, no doubt, but it is necessary to tolerate that and correct that. And we must also give honour to that person who has no position or respect. Then everybody will be happy: I will not get any obstruction from others, and my mind will also always be peaceful with everyone.
alabdhe vā vinaṣṭe vā bhakṣyāchchhādana-sādhane
aviklava-matir bhūtvā harim eva dhiyā smaret
All the scriptures say that this is the first qualification. You may be getting or not getting, you may be getting or losing, alabdhe vā vinaṣṭe vā; and that may be your food or your cloth or your mental position or anything, but you must keep your mind quiet, stay in the faithful plane, and try to practise Kṛṣṇa consciousness very humbly. We can say that this is Vaiṣṇavism, in a very simple way.
Newcomers are sometimes confused to see so many things, and it is our duty to help them all. With our behaviour, with our affection, and with our intentions, we must try to help everybody. Śrīla Prabhupād, Śrīla Bhakti Siddhānta Saraswatī Ṭhākur, said, “Which is better, to make a big hospital or rescue one conditioned soul from illusion? What is best?” He answered, “By making many hospitals we can disturb the universe, but if we can rescue one jīva-soul from the illusion of māyā, that is the best sevā to the jīva-souls.”
In the hospitals they are also doing sevā, service, but that is not proper sevā. One dacoit [bandit] may be shot by the police and go to the hospital, and be treated and cured. After fifteen days or one month, he will be put in jail, and after coming out of jail, he will again do dacoity. There is no goodness in that. My sevā for that dacoit is not proper sevā. I did sevā for that man and cured that man; that is good, but I cannot change his mind, and that is very bad. After getting strength, that man will again do that wrong work. Therefore, Prabhupād Bhakti Siddhānta Saraswatī Ṭhākur said, “It is not necessary to make many hospitals; if we can try to rescue only one jīva-soul from this illusion, that is valuable sevā to the jīva-soul.”
Mahāprabhu advised sevā to His devotees: jīve doyā Nāme ruchi Vaiṣṇava-sevā. Jīva doyā means kindness to the jīva-souls. Real kindness means that you must serve the jīva-souls by preaching Kṛṣṇa consciousness to them and turning their illusioned minds towards the service of Kṛṣṇa. Nāme ruchi: we must chant the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahāmantra without offence; and Vaiṣṇava-sevā. He simply gave these three instructions.
One who is serving the Lord and His associates and devotees twenty-four hours a day is a Vaiṣṇava, and you must serve him. This is the meaning of Vaiṣṇava-sevā. If you can do that, you will have no problem. A man may go to the jungle and chant the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahāmantra, but that chanting is not proper chanting; better than chanting is service to the Vaiṣṇavas.
Śrīla Guru Mahārāj is very merciful. He mercifully gave me the association of the devotees, and we are trying together to properly chant the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahāmantra all over the world. We have no problem. Mundane problems must come to us and give us some trouble, but we know that, and we have no problem; we can stay anywhere. We can stay in a building or in a thatched house or anywhere, according to the will of Kṛṣṇa and our karma, but if we engage ourselves in the service of Guru, Vaiṣṇava, and Bhagavān, then we will have no problem.
Spoken on 10 October 1989.