Duryodhana was given good counsel by the most influential and wisest men on the planet, namely Bhishma, Vidura, Yudhistir and even Krishna himself. Still he didn’t learn his lessons. He was highly insecure and attached. When a person is fearful that he may lose his position or what he holds as dear, to someone else, he becomes offensive. If one thinks he deserves lot of respect and honor, then when he sees someone else receive it more than him, he becomes envious and in a desperate attempt to hold on to what he thinks exclusively belongs to him, he pulls the other down. This is pure envy, and Duryodhana personified it. Therefore even though the best devotees preached to him, it couldn’t penetrate his stone heart.
The only antidote for this deep rooted offensive mentality that breeds from insecurity and envy is serving others. Krishna himself set an example by serving all the guests during the Rajasuya sacrifice that emperor Yudhistir had organized. And all of sincere devotees of Krishna also follow this example of serving the Lord’s devotees.
To be a servant of all is as natural to the soul as being liquid is to water or being hot is to a chilly. Unfortunately we have been brainwashed to aspire to be a master; even as a child we are trained to grow and succeed and often this growth is seen as incongruent with our aspiration to serve. When my spiritual master, Radhanath Swami just began practicing the process of Krishna consciousness over four decades ago, he was nineteen and very enthusiastic. He claims that in his youthful exuberance, even without fully realizing the import of being a servant, he wrote a letter to his parents and signed it as ‘your servant’. They were shocked and replied back if all their training and education was to result in his self-demeaning attitude of being a lowly servant. On receiving their reply, he wrote back and clarified that being a servant actually makes one truly happy. He signed that letter as ‘servant of servant’. Radhanath Swami could imagine their further shock because after his response, they didn’t write back, knowing well that he may retort to being a servant further down the rung; he’d have in all probability signed the letter as ‘servant of servant of servant’. Although he was a young boy then, the principle of servitude he emphasized is eternally true.
This is the essence of Vedic dharma; everyone aspires to serve and even the one being served thinks of service. Recently during our annual eye camp in the village of Barsana in Northern India, our volunteers were enthusiastically serving the villagers. An elderly lady, blinded on both eyes and about to undergo an operation, beamed with hope and joy. Turning to our leader, she said, “You know I am desperate to get back my vision at least in one eye so that I can again cook nice rotis and serve my dear Krishna and Radha. And these young doctors from the city are caring for me so nicely”. She was eager to serve and so were the doctors.
A sincere devotee of Krishna may use various facilities while practicing Krishna consciousness but all of it is to simply enhance his service to God and others. And this is the highest truth of spiritual life that guarantees supreme spiritual bliss which is hidden by its simplicity of being centered on service.