The Hare Krishna Maha Mantra has a simple meaning; “My dear Lord Krishna, please engager me in Your service” As we chant the Holy Names, we make a prayerful call for service. Therefore one of the first symptoms that our chanting is effective and our prayers have been accepted by the Lord is when we are blessed with an opportunity to render more service to the Lord and His devotees.
These opportunities for service appear in a variety of forms. After some time of chanting Hare Krishna, we may be requested by some devotees to serve prasadam in the centre. Or we could be asked to drive some members to the programme. That’s when we’ve to thank God for having accepted our chanting; a chance for service is the Lord’s direct reciprocation with the chanter. Besides the actual service, chanting also provides a devotee with a stronger and purer desire to serve. Chanting Hare Krishna is said to yield the highest benefit when the chanter aspires to serve without expecting anything else in return. Moreover a sincere chanter sees every situation as an opportunity to serve and sees himself as a servant at all times, places and circumstances.
What if a Hare Krishna chanter is in a situation of giving charity to a needy beggar or what if he is honoured and glorified amidst many devotees? How does he see himself as a servant in this situation? Radhanath Swami says a sincere devotee while being honoured immediately transfers it to his spiritual master and considers that the glory doesn’t belong to himself for he is only a servant of all. He also feels that those who are glorifying him are polite and instead of instructing him directly on what qualities he needs to develop, they are indirectly ordering him by appreciating him so that he is inspired to endeavour to develop these qualities. And even while serving a servant, we can be in the mood of a servant. Radhanath Swami says, “A devotee doesn’t think that a beggar is begging, and I am giving. His mood is I am begging for service, and this person appearing as a beggar is giving me an opportunity to serve.” This is deep spirituality and offers a paradigm shift to those immersed in the consciousness that they are the benefactors of those whom they seek to favour and help. Radhanath Swami is clear that even when we render favours to others, it’s an opportunity to serve and we need to consider that a favour has been given to us to serve the other person. “So many others could have served him, but I’ve been given a chance to help him. This is a favour to me rather than to him.”
Chanting purifies the consciousness of the desire to be the enjoyer and controller. A true chanter of the Holy Names feels it’s a great privilege and honour to render service to others than be honoured by others. As Radhanath Swami once said, “cleaning the toilets of Vaishnavas is a more honourable job than becoming the president of U.S.A or the Prime minister of India.”