Spiritual Ego

Srila Bhakti Sundara Govinda Deva Goswami Maharaja explains how to rid oneself of false ego. Originally published at Gaudiya Darshan.

All activity in the illusory environment is done with ego. It is first necessary to avoid ego. Another name for ego is emotion. Sometimes we speak emotionally. That is one kind of ego. It is not so harmful, but our real ego is that we are jiva-souls. “I am a jiva-soul and servant of Krishna.” This is ego, but good ego, because it is our actual position.

jivera ‘svarupa’ haya—krsnera ‘nitya-dasa’

Sri Caitanya-caritamrita 2.20.108

“I am this body. I am the proprietor of this house. I am the proprietor of this business. I am the master of my wife, daughters, and sons.” This type of ego is bad ego. It is illusory. If I see that everyone is a servant of Krishna, that I am also a servant of Krishna, and that Krishna has given me the chance to serve him in the company of his other servants, then I will have a proper ego. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura very mercifully composed many songs to show us how to serve Krishna, Guru, and Vaisnava.

When Srila Krishna Dasa Kaviraja Goswami started Caitanya-caritamrita, he wrote,

granthera arambhe kari ‘mangalacarana’
guru, vaisnava, bhagavan—tinera smarana
tinera smarane haya vighna-vinasana
anayase haya nija vanchita-purana

“At the beginning of this book I made an invocation of auspiciousness by remembering Guru, Vaisnava, and Bhagavan. Remembering them destroys all obstacles and easily fulfils one’s desires.”

Sri Caitanya-caritamrita 1.1.20–21

If we serve Guru, Vaisnava, and Bhagavan, then all bad ego, illusory ego, will leave us. Then we will be able to see what is what: the position of Krishna, maya, myself, and others. That is called sambandha-jnana.

Sriman Mahaprabhu taught sambandha, abhidheya, and prayojana. Sambandha means our relationship with Krishna. Who is Krishna? What is Krishna’s abode? What is his paraphernalia? Who are his associates? Sambandha-jnana explains all these things and how they are connected. Abhidheya is the way in which we can satisfy Krishna and his associates. Prayojana is what we need: Krishna-prema, unalloyed devotion and love for Radha-Krishna. Prayojana is our supreme necessity, our destiny, we can say. How do we reach it? By bhakti, devotional activity. There are many kinds of bhakti, but ananya-bhakti [unalloyed devotion] is necessary to serve in Vrindavana. We can get ananya-bhakti only through the servitors of Radha-Krishna. Radharani is the supreme servitor of Krishna. Her mercy comes down through Gurudeva. If we receive her mercy through Gurudeva, then we can go to Goloka Vrindavana to serve Krishna under her guidance. That is the highest thing.

Still, primary education is necessary: we are in the illusory environment, and first of all, it is necessary to come out of that. Then secondary education: we must understand our duty and do it properly. Our duty is service to Krishna, but we do not know what Krishna likes and does not like. Thus we need Gurudeva’s guidance; Gurudeva gives us the guidelines to understand what service is suitable for us to do. In this way, we get all our transcendental food and benefit from Gurudeva, who is always distributing mercy.

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