Culture of service and appreciation

Chanting Hare Krishna is not an isolated activity. Just like a person may be administered the best medicine during sickness, still his complete recovery from the illness depends on the diet that he takes. If he is careful about the diet, his quick recovery is granted. On the other hand if he takes the medicines regularly but his diet is erratic and he ingests forbidden foodstuffs, his recovery is delayed. Similarly the Hare Krishna meditation is like the medicine for the soul; it cures us of our materialistic consciousness and fills our heart with rich spiritual emotions for God. However we have to simultaneously work on creating a healthy culture for chanting Hare Krishna. This culture acts as the diet; it provides a framework for making the Hare Krishna yoga work.

One of the critical elements of this spiritual culture is creating an atmosphere of service and appreciation of other sincere spiritual practitioners. When we see other sincere Hare Krishna chanters, it is imperative for us to encourage them in their spiritual activities. Not only we need to avoid criticizing them, we should in fact shower heartfelt appreciation for their endeavours. This not only helps us create a positive energy in our surroundings, it also helps us attract God’s, Krishna’s grace. Krishna is very pleased when His dear devotees are served and appreciated. Radhanath Swami says on the basis of Vedic scriptures, “a moment’s association of saintly devotees is the most valuable thing in creation; there is nothing as sacred as this association. We should take it as a blessing of Krishna that we have this association.” For the association of devotees that we are blessed with, we express our gratitude to Krishna by offering sincere service to them.

Radhanath Swami often quotes the life and pastimes of Lord Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the incarnation of Krishna who appeared five hundred years ago in the Nawadwip district of West Bengal, India. He taught by his personal example the need to serve devotees. Lord Chaitanya would personally invite devotees home and He and His family members would cook a feast and serve the devotees with great happiness. The Lord even washed the clothes of His own devotees to teach us the importance of serving other servants of God. He would also glorify and appreciate the devotees. It is said by the Lord’s biographers that Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu glorified devotees as if He had five mouths. When He glorified devotees like Vasudeva Dutta who had exhibited unparalleled compassion to save the fallen people, He did it with ‘thousand mouths’.

Radhanath Swami offers a nice example to explain the importance of appreciation and service attitude. Just as a fertile soil can help the plant grow, similarly a culture of genuine service attitude is the fertile soil that helps the plant of our connection to Krishna grows luxuriantly. Radhanath Swami’s profound words of wisdom echo in our hearts, “if we don’t understand the spirit of humbly serving great souls, we’ll never be dear to God, no matter what we do. We can chant the whole day and night, but Krishna is not going to care about our chanting. The essence of religion is to chant the Holy Names of God, serve sincere devotees of God and be compassionate instruments of their mercy to the world.”

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