The practice of devotional service

Devotional service to God has been recommended by spiritual masters like Ramanuja, Madhva, Chaitanya and others as the highest perfection of life. A question then arises as to how devotional service is to be practiced. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in His Shikshashtaka prayers says – “O Lord, I do not desire wealth or followers or women; what I simply want is unmotivated devotional service to You life after life.”

Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu also says – “Becoming more tolerant than a tree, and more humble than a blade of grass, it becomes possible to continuously chant the holy name of God.”

Unmotivated devotional service is the highest perfection. However, it is to be understood that anyone who has approached God – for whatever reason, is fortunate in that he has approached God even though the practice of devotional service in this case might not be unmotivated. A person approaches God in distress, or out of inquisitiveness, or out of material desire, or in knowledge.

The declarations made by Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita establish the supremacy of God over all that there is. There is no one equal to or superior than God. God is the supreme proprietor and the supreme owner. All living entities are eternally the servants of God, and when one engages in devotional service to God, one becomes established in his original constitutional position.

The material world is an illusory play, and the eternal living entity, desiring to lord it over material nature becomes entangled in it, and hence, suffers in the material world. However, with the causeless mercy of God, one can get liberation from the clutches of material nature. When one becomes situated in one’s constitutional position as servant of God, one becomes situated in the spiritual kingdom.

One can meditate upon God in one’s heart through active service. In whatever engagements one is involved in, when one’s consciousness is purified, and one becomes situated in God-consciousness, one can meditate upon God through those actions.

Gradually, the mind and intelligence become purified by engaging in activities of devotional service. When the intelligence becomes firmly established, and one accepts as truth the words of great spiritual masters, with that intelligence, the mind can be controlled. Gradually, and very easily, one’s whole existence becomes purified simply by engaging in devotional service.

One should know for certain that the Supreme Lord is competent to give protection to His devotee, and with that determination, one should become fearless, and act for the satisfaction of the Supreme Lord. The Supreme Lord – the eternal well-wisher of all living entities, and the omnipotent and omniscient one, ignites the fire of knowledge in the heart of the devotee, cutting to pieces all doubts born of ignorance.

Great trials and tribulations in the practice of self-realization are not unexpected. One who has firm faith in God and the spiritual master overcomes all miseries, which are otherwise very difficult to overcome. One who in a time of acute distress remembers God is at once freed from all miseries born of material existence, and at once attains the spiritual kingdom.

Knowing the greatness of God, and with sincerity worshiping Him, and endeavoring to work for His satisfaction, one assuredly attains Him.


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