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Answers from a Maha-Bhagavata – Performing Unmotivated Bhakti

Recently I was going through the diary which contained my conversations with our beloved Gurudev, H H Mahavishnu Goswami Maharaj. I seek the permission of the devotees to allow me to share an excerpt from one of the conversations. I will try and list down the points which I had taken down on my note book. We had noted this conversation down in point form. In this mail we have tried to put together all the points in paragraphs for ease of reading, as such the sentences may not be flowing as it should be. Kindly forgive us.

Gurudev: Motivated devotional service gets us nowhere. When motivation is there, we will not be able to touch the verses. We will not be able to learn, contemplate and understand the finer points. The mind is always agitated because of this motivation. For Bhagavatam our head needs to be cool. For this we must try and make it practical that we always remember Krishna whenever we can. This must be a practical point in our lives. Don’t think about yourself. The thing is we glorify ourselves too much within our mind. Every where we run, we are thinking of how we will be glorified. When we are going to the temple we should be hankering to take darshan of the deities and serve the devotees. When you enter the temple, are you even conscious that deities are there? 10 seconds you bow and look at them and after that it’s all you. You are looking at how today I will make a good name for myself. This is embarrassment. Our undivided attention should always be on Krishna, at least in the temple, if not everywhere. You may feel that you are doing nicely. Everyone is smiling and getting inspired with your preaching. You may be glorified by everyone, but please don’t be surprised if you see the Yamaduthas instead of Vishnuduthas when you leave. The sign of progress is not how well others are inspired, or how much your ego grows. It’s how well you can remember Krishna without motivation. Our process is to remember and glorify Krishna please don’t complicate these things.

Maharaj’s instructions are enshrined in the following verse from Srimad Bhagavatam 7.10.6:

aham tv akaamas tvad-bhaktas / tvam ca svaamy anapaashrayah
naanyathehaavayor artho / raaja-sevakayor iva

O my Lord, I am Your unmotivated servant, and You are my eternal master. There is no need of our being anything other than master and servant. You are naturally my master, and I am naturally Your servant. We have no other relationship.”

In his transcendental purport, Srila Prabhupada writes, “This is the prescribed method of devotional service. As soon as a devotee wants the Supreme Personality of Godhead to be his order supplier, the Lord immediately refuses to become the master of such a motivated devotee.” As Maharaj said, “the living entities can do many gymnastics in the name of devotional service, but if the Lord refuses to become one’s master then at the end the Yamaduthas take over.” In the word for word equivalence, Srila Prabhupada explains the word “anapaashrayah” as “without motivation (You do not become the master with motivation)“. So only if we reject these motivations, will the Lord take over. As long as the Lord does not take over, our paths are always wrong and unlimited suffering will always be there. These motivations are not only what we openly ask the Lord for, but most of the times they are very subtle, so subtle that no one but the Spiritual master and Spiritual Lord can detect.

Maharaj blasted every ounce of my false ego, but it still continues to linger due to my unlimited conditioning. The living entities come alone and leave alone. But during the time of their stay, they hanker for the flickering attention of all the fallible soldiers, which in turn leads to many, various motivations they have, and in this way they complicate their lives. The way to come out of this, as I have personally learnt from Maharaj is that one should always remain as the servant of the servant and at the same time be self-sufficient by practically realizing that Guru and Krishna are always alive regardless of the living entities’ puny efforts to glorify them. As Maharaj says, “Srila Prabhupada is not alive because of us spreading his glories; Krishna sustains his glories, not us. We are just given the opportunity.”

I humbly pray that devotees always keep us in their prayers. Please kindly forgive us for our unlimited offences which stem from all my abominable motivations.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada! All glories to Srila Gurudev!

Thank you very much,
Your servant,
Madan Mohan das,
Singapore