Have you ever offered your seat on a train to an old man or a pregnant woman? Have you ever helped a blind man cross the street? How did you feel when you rendered any kind of selfless service, without expecting anything in return? Most people would confess that the happiness experienced was special; a lightening of the heart. It’s as if some unknown burden has been removed from the heart. The reason why selfless service offers a more fulfilling happiness than any other attempt to squeeze out pleasures in this world is the soul is by nature a servant of God and it’s only when we are situated in our constitutional position of being the servant of God, and all other living entities, that we experience highest fulfilment.
Chanting Hare Krishna works wonders when we lead a life centred on service. If we are conditioned to only accept service from others, chanting Hare Krishna becomes a challenge. On the other hand when we cultivate the consciousness of being the servant, our chanting yields spiritual benefits. The meaning of the Hare Krishna Maha Mantra is, “My dear Krishna (God) and my dear Radha, Hare (energy of God), please engage me in your loving service.” A chanter is thus required to meditate on the meaning of the mantra while chanting Hare Krishna. This meditation is facilitated by our regular cultivation of service attitude.
The reason for cultivating service attitude is we are reinstated in our loving relationship with God only on the basis of service. Just like, salt is by definition salty; sugar-sweet; water-liquid, similarly the living entity is naturally a servant of God, and experiences the bliss of complete freedom in rendering service to God in the spiritual world. Instead when we exercise our free will to attempt to be a master in this temporary material world, and enjoy independently of God, maya, the Lord’s illusory energy imprisons the soul in a material body.
Chanting Hare Krishna is the means by which we break these material shackles and are reinstated in our position as servant of God. However the secret remains the attitude- the attitude of servitude. Radhanath Swami explains that without developing the desire to be a servant, our attempts to chant Hare Krishna is like licking the bottle of honey from outside. To experience honey one has to open the lid and taste the nectar. Similarly, to actually experience spiritual bliss, one has to be the servant and then the whole treasure of love of God is revealed.
Radhanath Swami writes in his autobiography, ‘The Journey Home’, about an unforgettable experience he underwent in Vrindavan during his travels. He found his heart irresistibly drawn towards Ghanshyam, a small thin man in his seventies whose life and soul was to serve Radha and Krishna and their devotees twenty four hours a day. He would offer everything he had to serve others, while constantly saying, “I am your obedient servant.” Ghanshyam insisted on serving his food to Richard (Radhanath Swami’s earlier name), while he himself starved. With palms folded in prayer he begged that the only thing he possessed was his service to all and wished he isn’t deprived of this chance. He gave away his blanket so that Richard could sleep comfortably in the winter of Vrindavan. He loved to serve everyone he met, and Radhanath Swami writes that his heart was deeply affected by this devotee who lived in obscurity. Ghanshyam wasn’t a learned scholar, a famous guru or a mystic yogi. But he was a true saint, his humility an expression of his love for God.
It is the aspiration for this type of humility and service attitude that attracts God to reveal His divinity in His Holy Names.