Despite the towering reputation that Chaitanya Mahaprabhu earned at such a young age, he remained meek and humble. He served others; whether it was carrying their bags, or washing and folding their clothes, or cleaning their worship paraphernalia, he offered personal services to all. He also recognized those devotees who rendered sincere services, while remaining in the background.
One day at the house of Srivas Thakur, the Lord displayed his magnificence of Godhood for over twenty one hours at a stretch. Although it was an opulent display, the Lord recognized the services of a simple, poor woman named Dukhi. She was a servant maid at the house of Srivas, and dutifully carried water for the various household needs. Nobody would have ordinarily given her a second glance. But the Lord glorified her and declared her to be a special soul, dear to His heart.
Devotees like Gangadas Pandit and Srivas Thakur were astounded to hear the Lord’s personal reciprocation with them. Sri Chaitanya once came as a doctor and cured the fever of one of his devotee. On another occasion when Gangadas was desperate to sail across river Ganga in fear of the Muslim invaders, it rained heavily and no boat man was willing to ferry his family across. At that time, Lord Chaitanya, disguised as a boatman, took Gangadas and his family across the Ganga safely.
When Srivas was sad at being thrown out of a Bhagavat class, the Lord entered his heart and inspired him to feel happy. One of the most amazing revelations by the Lord during this pastime was when he showed his back marked with terrible whip lashes. Years ago one of his chief devotees, Haridas Thakur, was beaten in twenty two market places by the soldiers of the Muslim king. Haridas’s offense was he was born a Muslim, yet he unabashedly chanted the Holy Names of Krishna. When the soldiers mercilessly beat him, the Lord in anger invoked his disc weapon to kill the miscreants. Yet Haridas fervently prayed that his oppressors be forgiven. With such intensity did Haridas desire that the soldiers be pardoned that Lord couldn’t hurl his weapon to punish them. At the same time Haridas was ruthlessly whipped. Unable to bear this sight, Lord covered Haridas’s body with his own body.
Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu valued service as a sacred act. When devotees arrived at Puri for the festival of chariots, the Lord personally greeted each of the devotees with a garland and welcomed them to the town. When Haridas passed away, Lord personally begged for alms to celebrate the festival of his leaving the world.
The combination of chanting of Holy Names and serving devotees makes our lives blissful. Srila Prabhupada taught us that we chant Hare Krishna begging the Lord for service. The reward of good chanting is we are blessed with more service. At the same time, chanting the holy names is itself the most important service. That’s because chanting is our exclusive time with our Lord. When we chant Hare Krishna, we are spending private time with Krishna. This association of the Lord fills the heart of a chanter with spiritual joy. The spiritual happiness in turn gives one the impetus to serve people of this world, without expecting anything in return. The selfless service then attracts goodness in others’ hearts. They too get infected with a desire to serve. Thus a virtuous cycle of goodness envelops all; everyone happily chants and serves each other.
Lord Chaitanya not only taught this principle five hundred years ago, but his dedicated followers like Srila Prabhupada have proved that the chanting of Lord’s Holy Names in the mood of sincere service is here to stay; it will surely inundate the world with love of God.