SA VAI PUMSAM PARO DHARMO…
The Supreme Duty of Everyone!

by Hemarupa Chaitanya Das

sa vai pumsam paro dharmo  yato bhaktir adhoksaje
ahaituky apratihata   yayatma suprasidati

Everyone is looking for happiness, satisfaction of one’s self. However, how many of them know the way of happiness? Srimad-Bhagavatam (1.2.6) gives us the ultimate happiness formula – engagement in loving devotional service (bhakti) unto Lord Krsna, which when rendered without any selfish motivations and interruptions, completely satisfies the self.

Universal Path

What does water, air and earth have in common? They’re nourishing, essential and above all, for the benefit of everyone. Similarly, the scriptures say that the path of bhakti is also universal, as is indicated by the words sa vai pumsam, ‘certainly for all mankind.’ Srila Prabhupada writes, “There are no distinctions permitting only a man or only a brahmana to offer devotional service to the Lord. Everyone can do so.” (SB 7.5.23-24 P)

Eternal Disposition

“Krsna is the central pivot of living beings, and He is the all-attractive living entity or eternal form amongst all other living beings or eternal forms. Each and every living being has his eternal form in the spiritual existence, and Krsna is the eternal attraction for all ofthem. Krsna is the complete whole, and everything else is His part and parcel. The relation is one of the servant and the served.” (SB 1.2.6 P).   “Bhakti, devotional service, is meant only for the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Narayana, Visnu, or Krsna, not for anyone else” (SB 3.29.11-12 P). Thus bhakti or devotional service to Krsna is the eternal inclination of all living entities, although covered in the conditioned state.

Causeless and Ceaseless

Bhakti is not caused by any other external force, but is inspired by the bhakti in the heart of another devotee (1.2.6 V). Thus bhakti is causeless (ahaituki). For example, the bhakti in the heart of Narada Muni is the cause of bhakti of Prahlada. Also, Prahlada was not willing to accept any material benediction although Lord Narasimhadeva personally offered it. Thus bhakti is unmotivated (ahaituki).  Bhakti is not hindered by any external material circumstances (1.2.6 V). Thus bhakti is ceaseless (apratihata). For example, the bhakti in the heart of little Prahlada was not interrupted by the death threats of his father, rather it shone so brilliantly that it made the Supreme Lord descend as Narasimha. “Instead of being disturbed by the torments of his father, Prahlada influenced his classmates and cleansed their minds. A devotee is never contaminated by material conditions, but persons subjected to material conditions can become spiritually advanced and blissful upon seeing the behavior of a pure devotee” (SB 7.4.42 P)

Begin From Anywhere

Albeit, in general people may not have such pure desires to execute bhakti, due to the disturbances of material desires. However, the path of bhakti is so accommodative that it admits anyone from any background and uplifts them to perfection. Thus Srimad-Bhagavatam recommends

akamah sarva-kamo va
moksa-kama udara-dhih
tivrena bhakti-yogena
yajeta purusam param

A person who has broader intelligence, whether he be full of all material desire, without any material desire, or desiring liberation, must by all means worship the supreme whole, the Personality of Godhead. (SB 2.3.10)

Transformative Path

Srila Prabhupada writes, “The waves of desire for material enjoyment are so strong that they cannot be stopped by any process other than bhakti-yoga. The bhaktas, by their transcendental devotional service, become so overwhelmed with transcendental bliss that automatically their desires for material enjoyment stop.” (SB 4.22.39 P). Little Dhruva became obsessed with an ambition to enjoy an exalted position superior to even Brahma’s. However, after worshiping Lord Vasudeva and receiving the supreme benediction of seeing Him within six months, he didn’t value his previous desire and even felt that 1it was like broken pieces of glass.

What Exactly To Do?

Prahlada Maharaja taught us the nine processes of bhakti: “Hearing and chanting the holy name, form, qualities, and pastimes of Lord Krsna, remembering them, serving His lotus feet, worshiping Him, offering prayers, becoming His servant, considering Him one’s best friend, and surrendering everything unto Him. One who has dedicated his life to the service of Krsna through these nine methods is the most learned person.” (SB 7.5.23-24). These nine processes can be performed anytime and at any place as per one’s capacity, indeed, these can be done as separate processes or even together. “When a devotee executes any one of the nine processes, this is sufficient; the other eight processes are included” (SB 7.5.23-24 P).

Realization of Relation

After all, by performing continuous bhakti, especially sravanam or hearing about Lord Krsna, one revives the forgotten relationship of servant and served with Krsna and over time this relationship becomes more perceivable. “This relation of servant and the served is the most congenial form of intimacy. One can realize it as devotional service progresses.” (SB 1.2.6 P). The process of hearing nourishes not only a practicing devotee, but an advanced devotee as well. The Bhagavatam is filled with examples of great devotees like Dhruva, Pracetas, Prthu and so on who, after seeing the Supreme Lord, prayed for opportunity to hear about Him in the association of devotees.

No Expectations

Bhakti unto Lord Krsna doesn’t demand huge offerings and accomplishments of great magnitude from the practitioner, but simple service attitude with sincerity is sufficient and Lord Krsna will be sold out to such a devotee. Krsna says, even if He is offered a little water, flower, fruit or leaf with devotion, He would accept it happily (BG 9.26). The simple fruit seller woman offered fruits to Krsna expecting nothing in return and she is bestowed such great wealth. The cowherd girls, the gopis of Vrndavana, selflessly served Krsna with such simple devotion and are thus counted amongst the topmost devotees

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