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Rising Through The Ranks

Thursday, 16 May 2013 / Published in Articles, Kesava Krsna Dasa / 1,815 views

By Kesava Krsna Dasa

Some devotees feel that they have to be extra educated or materially qualified, or to be a GBC, sannyasa or guru with disciples, in order to serve properly in devotion. Falling short of these positions, we may feel unqualified. There are some good news for all ‘unqualified’ devotees.

Of course, we all feel, or should feel unqualified, but this feeling can be disproportionate and erroneous, especially if we think we have to be higher up in our managerial echelons. We might feel pressured to produce service results above what we are normally capable of, as if to earn some lasting recognition from ‘higher up’ that might gravitate us towards guru-ship or sannyasa. Doesn’t this sound like corporatism with a spiritual twist?

Some other devotees think they need to acquire extra educational qualifications in order to preach to academics and scholars – how else will such learned people take us seriously otherwise. The idea may exist that if we are able to serve above the ordinary – hopefully with extraordinary results – it might convince others that Krishna has empowered us.

It might be difficult to distinguish between extraordinary human ability and Krishna’s empowerment. We are taught to think that the more devotees or disciples one makes or has, is a sure measure of Krishna empowerment. Is it? Not always – what if one makes devotees or attracts disciples just by popularity or reputation alone?

Is it the goal of spiritual endeavour to be outwardly results driven in service in order to progress internally? We all like to please our spiritual masters and fellow devotees, but could it not be that if we serve in a way similar to how the corporate system works, then the service really becomes unintended self-service and satisfaction? Our inner development stalls.

For instance, one busy GBC member remarked that if he were not so engaged in management, he would happily do another service – making garlands for the Lord. There is an intimacy in this desire which may get ‘neutralised’ by corporate thinking, in a distant way.

(3) The spiritual master is always engaged in the temple worship of Sri Sri Radha and Krishna. He also engages his disciples in such worship. They dress the Deities in beautiful clothes and ornaments, clean Their temple, and perform other similar worship of the Lord. I offer my respectful obeisances unto the lotus feet of such a spiritual master. (Sri Sri Gurvashtaka)

Although all service rendered in fine consciousness makes us feel intimately connected with the centre of guru and Krishna, we can gravitate away without realising it. If we need constant ‘pat-on-the-back’ mechanisms to ensure we are ‘accepted’ and loved, it reveals a distance from the centre. To be able to do ‘small’ services like garland making, temple cleaning and pot washing – though appreciated – it would mean a climb down for someone at a distance.

From such a distance, performing ‘invisible’ services in which no else knows of them, can be difficult. The “Krishna knows…”assurance is lacking. We would expect materially qualified or academically gifted devotees to perform according to ability, appearing vital and important, yet it is on par with pot washing or making of garlands – depending on the state of consciousness – when viewed from the centre. Srila Prabhupada encourages us:

“My Guru Maharaja therefore always instructed that it is not necessary that you have to qualify yourself for serving Krsna. Whatever qualification you have already got, that is sufficient to come to the platform of service. That’s all. You don’t require any extra qualifications. But what extra qualifications? So if somebody thinks, “Let me qualify like this, then I shall be able to serve Krsna better,” no, that’s a wrong philosophy…” (Lecture, Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.9.8–11 Hawaii, March 19, 1969)

Srila Prabhupada is levelling our service in devotion playing field. Serving within a corporate devotee management environment with distant expectations will cause an uneven field. An uneven outlook will probably favour those with more influence and power – they are the ones more likely to go back to Godhead, so to speak.

But actual Krishna consciousness enacted from any service capacity on any level can ensure that everyone is guaranteed to go back to Godhead. Having disciples does not guarantee going back to Godhead. Neither does being a GBC or sannyasa. Acquiring extra academic qualifications also has no use, except to properly preach, if needed.

“Whatever qualification you have acquired already, you begin Krsna service, Krsna consciousness, immediately, so that even a little bit done towards service you are gainer. Vigata-viklava gata sankha[?]. Do not be doubtful, that “I am not qualified, so I cannot serve. My service will not be accepted.” No. Sa karmana tama vaca. In the Bhagavad-gita also it is said that whatever qualification and whatever asset you have got, just immediately engage to Krsna’s service.” (Lecture, Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.9.8–11 Hawaii, March 19, 1969)

To be distanced in service and expectations of fellow devotees reveals some doubt about the efficacy of service from any position – visible and invisible. It is hardly a solid display of “Krishna knows…” faith.

How such faith interacts in our world of varied all-important services will reveal how we apply Krishna conscious philosophy. Whereas we might think that Krishna favours certain ‘qualified’ individuals, Srila Prabhupada is indirectly saying that Krishna loves us just the way we are.

Prabhupāda: One who loves Kṛṣṇa without inquiry, that is nice position. To inquire about Kṛṣṇa is knowledge. And pure devotion is transcendental to knowledge. Love does not depend on the greatness. If a boy loves a girl or the girl loves a boy, even in this material field, it does not depend on the greatness of the boy. Of course, here everything is on material consideration. But actual love is without any consideration, what He is or what He isn’t. That is real love. That is the perfectional stage of love, without inquiring how great He is or what He is. But for the neophytes it is necessary to know about Kṛṣṇa. Because we have no love, so if we understand that Kṛṣṇa is so great, then gradually we can love. (September 6, 1968, New York)

The same logic can be applied to our fellow devotees, where we think we have to detect some Aisvarya quality in others before we can believe or respect them, rather than simply accepting all devotees for who they are, great or small, important or ‘unimportant.’

Even our sense of extending love may be determined by how important and influential the receiver of our love is. In normal corporate dealings, estimations of high and low are vivid experiences. In devotion circles, conceptions of low being high requires faith-centric acceptance. Where to direct our love can be philosophically incorrect sometimes.

If we realise that all devotees with sincerity can earn service back in Godhead, regardless of their perceived external qualifications, because Krishna loves them the way they are, our interactions will become more wholesome. Is it not encouraging knowing that “Krishna loves me just the way I am…” in whatever service we do. It is worth repeating three times.

Ys Kesava Krsna Dasa

2 Responses to “Rising Through The Ranks”

  1. Hari Bol says :

    I could never get any initiation from the ISKCON Guru, I adored so much. But, I’m still chanting and visiting the ISKCON temple. I adore HDG AC Bhaktivedanta Srila Prabhupada and His devotees. I like to applaud Them with my scanty of love for Radha And Krishna and wish Them all the very best in Their book distribution. It was The Bhagavad Gita As It Is which took me to the path of 16 rounds chanting daily. Jai Srila Prabhupada. Now, I don’t want to be initiated any more but just chant my 16 rounds by order of Srila Prabhupada. Hare KRSNA!

  2. Puskaraksa das says :

    “A devotee is considered superlative or superior according to his attachment and love. In the Eleventh Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, the following symptoms have been given. (C.c. Madhya 22.71)

    Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura has stated that if one has developed faith in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, he is to be considered an eligible candidate for further advancement in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Those who have faith are divided into three categories — uttama, madhyama and kaniṣṭha (first class, second class and neophyte). A first-class devotee has firm conviction in the revealed scriptures and is expert in arguing according to the śāstras. He is firmly convinced of the science of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. The madhyama-adhikārī, or second-class devotee, has firm conviction in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, but he cannot support his conviction by citing śāstric references. The neophyte devotee does not yet have firm faith. In this way the devotees are typed.
    The standard of devotion is also categorized in the same way. A neophyte believes that only love of Kṛṣṇa or Kṛṣṇa consciousness is very good, but he may not know the basis of pure Kṛṣṇa consciousness or how one can become a perfect devotee. Sometimes in the heart of a neophyte there is attraction for karma, jñāna or yoga. When he is free and transcendental to mixed devotional activity, he becomes a second-class devotee. When he becomes expert in logic and can refer to the śāstras, he becomes a first-class devotee. The devotees are also described as positive, comparative and superlative in terms of their love and attachment for Kṛṣṇa.
    It should be understood that a madhyama-adhikārī, a second-class devotee, is fully convinced of Kṛṣṇa consciousness but cannot support his convictions with śāstric reference. A neophyte may fall down by associating with nondevotees because he is not firmly convinced and strongly situated. The second-class devotee, even though he cannot support his position with śāstric reference, can gradually become a first-class devotee by studying the śāstras and associating with a first-class devotee. However, if the second-class devotee does not advance himself by associating with a first-class devotee, he makes no progress. There is no possibility that a first-class devotee will fall down, even though he may mix with nondevotees to preach. Conviction and faith gradually increase to make one an uttama-adhikārī, a first-class devotee.

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