“Servant” Is a Good Word
from Back To Godhead Magazine #33-04, 1999
by Nagaraja Dasa
The philosophy of Krishna consciousness is vast and deep. After twenty-five years of study I’ve yet to master all its subtleties. Still, I’ve found that contemplating even the basic concepts can be highly satisfying.
Srila Prabhupada stressed the importance of studying the teachings of Lord Krishna every day. Just the other day I was reading Srimad-Bhagavatam when one of Prabhupada’s explanations struck me as so self-evident I just had to chuckle: “Of course. How could anyone argue with that?”
Srila Prabhupada was making the point—as he did over and over again—that we are all eternal servants of God and by realizing that we attain perfection.
“Everyone must serve someone,” Srila Prabhupada pointed out. We can’t exist without serving. We serve our family, friends, pets, boss, country. Even if we manage to avoid all those services, we can’t escape serving the demands of our own body and mind and, ultimately, the forces of nature that ravage and destroy our very bodies.
We all must serve. This point is an example of what Prabhupada meant when he used to say that he was not teaching a sectarian religion. Hindu, Muslim, Christian, or Jew; American, Indian, European, or Asian—we all must serve.
“So what?” you might ask.
So it follows that since we’re servants by nature, we’re subordinate to a higher power. And to control, that higher power must have intelligence, and must therefore be a person.
God is the only person not under anyone else’s control. We’re not God. Unlike us, God doesn’t have to serve anyone. We’re subordinate to Him; we’re His servants.
Realize that one simple point, and all our problems will be solved because we’ll stop fighting our real nature.
Because our original consciousness, now in touch with the material energy, is polluted, we resent being told we’re “eternal servants.” We don’t want to serve; we want to be served. (That’s probably why people like going to restaurants.) We’re all here trying our best to be God. Even in our self-styled attempts at spirituality we want to keep God out of the picture.
There’s another reason we resent being told we’re servants: Our experience of serving in this world tends to be unsatisfying.
Yet selfless service, which we glimpse in, for example, a mother’s loving service to her child, is highly satisfying. And great philanthropists no doubt derive pleasure in sacrificing for others. Srila Prabhupada pointed out that the philanthropists’ urge to serve others without reward indicates our eternal nature as servants of God.
Service in devotion is not drudgery. Limitless bliss awaits us in serving God. Because God, Krishna, is a person, in our liberated state we can serve Him as playmates, family members, even girlfriends. To me, this is one of the most wonderful aspects of the Krishna conscious explanation of our position as servants of God. He wants us to serve Him the way a friend serves a friend, a lover serves a lover. We simply have to give up our stubborn insistence on trying to take His place.