Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura on the subject of guru-seva. Original published at Gaudiya Darshan.

The service of Sri Guru-pada-padma, our dearly beloved Gurudeva, is first of all necessary. In this world, even to obtain piety, knowledge, or one’s various other non-devotional desired ends, a guru is necessary. However, the knowledge given by all these gurus yields extremely insignificant ends. Our spiritual Guru-pada-padma is not a giver of insignificant ends. Our Guru-pada-padma is a giver of true spiritual welfare. The moment one becomes devoid of the mercy of Sri Gurudeva, all sorts of other non-devotional desires emerge. If devotees who are fixed in devotion to Sri Guru, Guru-nistha Vaisnavas, do not instruct us how we must take shelter of our Sri Guru-pada-padma, how we must behave with our Sri Guru-pada-padma—if they do not teach us all this, then we will certainly squander a jewel we have already obtained.

A non-duplicitous disciple will regard Sri Guru as their devata and their atma (Guru-devatatma, Srimad-Bhagavatam: 11.2.37). They will know Sri Guru to be their lord and the one and only recipient of their affectionate love (priti). “Sri Gurudeva is my eternal master (prabhu), I am His eternal servant”—this is the ego (abhiman) and conception (vicara) of a sincere disciple. The service of Sri Guru is their life, wealth, and existence. They do not know anything apart from Sri Guru. Thinking of their guru in all circumstances—while resting, dreaming, eating, serving—they practice gurvanugatya, faithful subservience to Sri Guru. Thus they know Krishna’s dearmost, their Guru-pada-padma, to be non-different from the Lord and fully independent. “Sri Gurudeva may accept or may not accept my unfit service but sincerely, with my body, mind, and speech (kaya-mano-vakya), I will always remain ready to engage in his earnest service (aikantika-seva) in every respect. If he spurns me then I will know that is a result of my unfitness; and moreover that my Guru-pada-padma is correct in doing so. It is factually true that I cannot avert myself from my Guru-pada-padma for even a moment if I am to refrain from becoming distracted by transitory mundane matters (visaya). So that I do not fall into any bad association, so that I do not deviate from my Guru-pada-padma, my one and only prayer is, “Oh Gurudeva, please mercifully accept my service.”

My hope is, “Even though I am unfit, he bestows great mercy upon the unfit.” By taking hope in his causeless mercy, I will become enriched with a stronger ardent desire for the service of my Guru-pada-padma.

pranair arthair dhiya vaca sreya acaranam sada

Srimad Bhagavatam 10.22.35

The jiva-soul should engage exclusively in the service of the Lord with their heart (prana), wealth (artha), intelligence (buddhi) and speech (vakya). The service of the Lord is the supreme good (mangala), and aversion to the service of the Lord is the root of all misery (duhkha).

Heart (prana) means consciousness (cetanata) and affectionate love (priti). The principle (mukhya) way by which the service of the Lord is effected is the way of the heart. Wealth, intelligence, and speech devoid of heart are not able to truly serve the Lord pleasingly. For this reason, the word “heart” (prana) has been mentioned first. Sri Gurudeva awakens this heart and teaches all forms of service to disciples who are inclined towards service. Sri Gurudeva speaks about service with those who desire to engage in service.

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