Every object, commodity, property, possession, personality, idea or thought has a price tag. None of these are without any value, at least to someone at some particular time. One may claim the Self to be the most precious, priceless, costliest of ‘items’. Something no one wishes to neither trade for nor sell away. This self-worth is what makes a person honourable. But what actually is that Self?
Scriptures explain that the real Self is that which exists before this body came into existence and which continues to remain after this body is destroyed. That Self is the eternal, blissful and all-conscious spirit soul. The soul is so valuable because of these intrinsic qualities – which are actually derived from The Supreme Absolute Truth, being its minute part and parcel – that everyone cherishes their very existence of life. Ignorant of the real self, one thinks he to be this temporary material body. And thus by such association with matter, the soul suffers [SB 3.7.16].
By definition a spirit soul is a servant of God [jivera svarupa haya, krsnera nitya dasa]. Therefore, there cannot be such a creation called ‘soul’ if he/she is not engaged in the service of the Lord. The serving propensity is inherent and can be seen in all walks of life. If one is not serving God, then he is serving some other master(s) i.e senses, family, nation, mind, intelligence, etc. Either way, one has to serve.
This original state of existence is the soul’s pure form – of selfless, loving service unto the Lord. It is its very purpose of existence. But due to misuse of its minor independence, the soul has left the service of the Supreme and taken up engagement with another. This is akin to a wife who forsakes her worthy husband only to enjoy with another paramour. Such a wife is labelled as unchaste and foolish. The enjoyment she experiences with the paramour is short-lived, unsatisfactory and creates more hassles and problems than doing anyone any good. Similarly, the soul who has turned his face away from the Lord for the sake of a little so-called happiness of sense enjoyment engages in sinful activities and thus suffers a great deal [SB 3.9.7-8].
Step 1: Turning the Other Way
Naturally, one realizes that due to turning our face away from the Lord (Krishna bahir-mukha) we are suffering and thus an objective solution would be to simply turn towards the Lord (Krishna un-mukha). But what is the real import of this? Does it imply that a person merely recognizes the Supremacy of Lord, His greatness, His majesty and omnipotent nature? Actually, this is the first stage of chastity. One acknowledges the Lord as the supreme master. As such, he lives a religious life out of duty.
Here, the example of a dog is most appropriate. The dog is known for its unbiased loyalty to its master, even if it is neglected or beaten for misbehaving. On a lower gauge, we can observe the loyalty that is demanded from an employee. The basic requirement that is expected from him is to simply serve the company without jeopardizing the company’s interests. Similarly, as souls, we too have to serve in accordance with the Lord’s interests.
However the Supreme Lord, Sri Krishna, is the best of all masters, and being supremely perfect, His acts of reward or punishment are all equally beneficial to us. An example is the deliverance of thousands of soldiers on both parties of the battlefield of Kuruksetra, whom upon giving up their mortal forms saw the lotus face of the Lord [SB 3.2.20]. Therefore, Krishna un-mukha is a preliminary step; it is an action of service which is based on duty or general gratefulness, called kartavya-buddhi.
Hence, it is said that for one who has not sung or chanted loudly the worthy songs about the Lord is to be considered to possess an unchaste tongue (jihvasati) [SB 2.3.20], because service, glorification and acts in connection with God are our natural, rightful position, any other activity devoid of this is simply a deviation of character, and thus labelled unchaste.
A soul in pure consciousness acts out of pure love for God. This is the second stage of chastity called prema, where a soul not only acknowledges the Lord’s interests but is surrendered and eager to please the Lord, this is called Krishna sevonmukha. Activities in devotional service directly please the Lord while other activities either centred about self (mind, body, etc.), extended self (family, relatives, properties, etc.) or remote self (country, society, organization, etc.) – are all neglectful of Krishna’s pleasure.
By such chaste actions of serving in Krishna Consciousness one mitigates sufferings caused by misemployment with matter [SB 3.7.14]. On that note, service begins with the tongue (sevonmukhe hi jihvadau), and by chanting the Lord’s glories our speech becomes chaste [SB 3.6.36]. If the conditioned soul becomes Krishna conscious by the mercy of saintly persons who voluntarily preach scriptural injunctions and help him to become Krishna conscious, the conditioned soul is liberated from the clutches of maya, who herself gives him up [CC Madhya 20.120].
In conclusion, such great souls advise us to chant the Hare Krishna Maha Mantra and to become absorbed in it. Thus one will be able to see Krishna in everything, and everything as related to Krishna [SB 3.9.31] and this is the perfection of life. Thereafter, one merely passes on this gift of Krishna Consciousness to others, the exact same way one has received it. This is the chaste process of devotional service.
The above article is an answer to the Open Book Exam (Canto 3.1-14), by Hemarupa Caitanya Das, to the question: “One should not become unchaste by stopping the activities of pure consciousness…” How do we explain this concept of 3.6.36 – “We become unchaste if not engaged in devotional service!” to a new comer in or a non-practitioner of Bhakti?”