The Key to Success

Śrīla Bhakti Rakṣak Śrīdhar Dev-Goswāmī Mahārāj explains the spirit of humble service.

In Advaya-jñān [the Absolute], there is harmony and adjustment between different stages and different natures of servitors; there is gradation. Although the absolute consideration (taṭasthā-vichār) is also there, that does not mean that we should be encouraged to be indifferent towards services of the lower order. We should not be. We should be careful against hating or undermining other servitors in their respective positions. We should be careful about this; it will be an offence to our Lord. We must not discourage those that are engaged in the services of a different layer. That will hamper our own cause. Rather, our tendency should be the opposite: we should hanker for services of the lower nature. That is the nature and law of the higher plane.

Rādhārāṇī Herself says, “By the grace of Tulasī Devī, I came in contact with Kṛṣṇa.” Although She is always in the best eternal contact with Kṛṣṇa, She says, “By Tulasī Devī’s grace, I have attained such a position.” This is,

tṛṇād api sunīchena taror iva sahiṣṇunā
amāninā mānadena kīrtanīyaḥ sadā hariḥ

[“One who is humbler than a blade of grass, is tolerant like a tree, is free from pride, and gives honour to others is qualified to always chant the Name of the Lord.”] 

This primary statement of Mahāprabhu has very deep, deeper, and the deepest value. Pride cannot take us to hold a high office. Our tendency and sympathy will always be for lower services. Rādhārāṇī Herself says, “My hankering is always towards the service of the divine feet. I want to serve as a maidservant, but because Kṛṣṇa wants to enjoy Me in another way, only to fulfil His earnest desire do I offer Myself in any way He likes. My tendency is only to serve His feet.” That is Her nature, and that is the nature of the whole hierarchy. And that is its beauty.

Student: Mahārāj, if we should aspire for the lowest service, then does that mean we should aspire for śānta- or dāsya-rasa?

Śrīla Śrīdhar Mahārāj: In that way there is an easy jurisdiction. That is, from a particular position, we are to come to a revelation. There, our aspiration will be confined to what is within easier reach. Sometimes they even say, “We are jealous of the position of the flute.” So, it goes like that sometimes. That is the key to success: humility—tṛṇād api sunīch taror api sahiṣṇu [“being humbler than a blade of grass and more tolerant than a tree”]. That is śaraṇāgati [surrender], and that is key to success. That will enhance the negative character of our life which can draw from Kṛṣṇa the maximum. Our tendency will always be to go towards the lower.

sakhyāya te mama namo ’stu namo ’stu nityaṁ
dāsyāya te mama raso ’stu raso ’stu satyam
(Vilāpa-kusumāñjali: 16)

This nature has been expressed by Dās Goswāmī: my real, internal, sincere tendency must go to the lower side, “I am unfit.” This increases our qualification, our quality, and this is the teaching of Mahāprabhu: tṛṇād api sunīchena. A long standing prospect is there in this verse:

tṛṇād api sunīchena taror api sahiṣṇunā
amāninā mānadena kīrtanīyaḥ sadā hariḥ

This attitude will draw for you the greatest benefit. Don’t try to go up, but try to go down. That is the key to success in that domain: to be humble amongst the humble.


Spoke on 5 Spetember 1981.

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