Jéva-sevä and Jéve-dayä
Service to the Jéva and Compassion upon the Jéva
by Çré Çrémad Bhakti Prajïäna Keçava Gosvämé Mahäräja
[NOTE: This page uses Balarama font
for better transliteration of Sanskrit into English]
Most people do not finely differentiate between the two words, “jéva-sevä” and “jéve-dayä”. Usually a person fails properly to understand the distinguishing characteristics of jéva-seva and jéve-dayä, and therefore ends up with an understanding that is completely opposite to the truth. In this world many people cherish the desire to be celebrated as “a great thinker”, “magnanimous”, “benevolent”, “a well-wisher of the society” and “a well-wisher of the world”; but because such people do not properly understand this subject, the culmination of all their efforts is like the labor of animals.
The people of the world are so engrossed in their bodily comforts and in fulfilling their selfish
desires that if even a scent of an attitude to serve others is perceived in someone, it is greatly appreciated. Service to others (para-sevä) is a virtue; however, if it becomes the deceiving of others (para-chalnä), it can never be praise worthy. Simply applying the label “service” to acts of deception and propagating them as ‘service’, does not make them service in the true sense. Will the thoughtful and civilized human society of the twentieth century not consider this fact just once?
In the terms “para-sevä” and “para-upakära”, the word “para” means “topmost”. In other words it means Paramätmä-Viñëu. Thus the word “para” refers only to service to Paramätmä, the topmost entity. In one sense,the jéva is also para (superior); however, as long as he has anarthas he is bound by the three modes of nature.
yayä sammohito jéva
paro ’pi manute ’narthaà
Due to this external energy, the living entity, although transcendental to the three modes of material nature, thinks himself to be a material product and thus undergoes the reactions of material miseries. To render service to the jéva who has been conditioned from a time without beginning, whose consciousness is covered by the three modes of mäyä and who is distracted from his constitutional nature, is to render service to his condition plagued by anarthas. In other words service is rendered to enable him to fulfill his enjoying propensity.
Many considerations are inseparably tied to the concept of sevä. First, one has to consider whether or not the entity to whom service is to be rendered is in fact sevya, an object worthy of worship; in other words, is he prabhu-tattva, the supreme worshipable reality? Second, service entails pleasing the object of service in a manner that is favourable to him. And third, one must consider the state of consciousness of the servant (sevaka) himself.
Is the jéva who has been averse to his constitutional nature and who has been covered by the three modes of material nature from a time without beginning, in fact prabhu-tattva? Will increasing the pleasure of one who possesses anarthas bring auspiciousness to him? And what benefit will the sevaka, who is trying to bring pleasure to others, derive from these acts? By answering these questions in an impartial manner we can observe that the term jéva-sevä is itself not even logical. The jéva is never prabhu-tattva.
‘mäyädhéça’ ‘mäyä-vaça’ – éçvare-jéve bheda
hena-jéve éçvara-saha kaha ta’ abheda
Çré Caitanya-caritämåta (Madhya 6.162)
The Lord is the master of all potencies, and the living
entity is their servant. That is the difference between
Lord and the living entity. However, you declare
that the Lord and the living entities are one and the
The terms sevyäbhimäna (possessing the ego of being the object of service), sevakäbhimäna (possessing the ego of being the servant) and seväbhimäna (possessing the ego of being one who renders service), are meaningless if they are used in relation to one who is bound by mäyä and if they are put into practice by offering that person sense enjoyment. To render service to debauchees, thieves, cheaters, donkeys, horses, trees and creepers, etc. is nothing but supplying sense enjoyment to jévas who are bound by mäyä. None of these entities is sevya, or prabhu-tattva.
A debauchee and a thief are both bound by mäyä. It is true that by providing a debauchee with a woman or by giving a thief another’s wealth, one renders service to them by furnishing them with sense enjoyment. However, it is also true that these persons will achieve only perpetual inauspiciousness, and by their association other jévas will surely suffer as well. Rendering service to a jéva bound by mäyä – that is, providing him with sense enjoyment, however well it may be dressed up – results only in the suffering of other jévas. This is because trying to satisfy the senses of a particular jéva bound by mäyä results in inauspiciousness for that jéva as well as in suffering for many other jévas.
In regard to jévas who are in the stage of bondage, the term jéva-sevä (service to living entities) does not apply, yet the term jéve-dayä (compassion upon other living entities) is credible. And in relation to jévas who are in the liberated stage, vaiñëava-sevä is possible. But acting for the satisfaction of the jéva in his bound stage, while he still has anarthas, cannot be termed real sevä. Only compassion (dayä) can be shown to such a person.
Moreover, we cannot show dayä to a liberated soul (mukta-puruña) – someone to whom we should render service. The term jéva-sevä is irrational, but the terms guru-sevä, vaiñëava-sevä and çiva-sevä are completely reasonable. To render service to or please the senses of guru and the Vaiñëavas is essential. To serve those who are liberated from this world and to show compassion towards those who are bound to it are indeed çuddha-sanätana-dharma, or the jéva’s unalloyed eternal occupation.
The jéva bound by mäyä is not Prabhu (Master). In other words he is not sevya-tattva, the supreme worshipable reality. Many who hear this conception will reveal their loyalty to the opinion of the Bäulas [one of the sahajiyä sects], in their attempt to deceitfully present the jéva as sevya-tattva and to thus try to proclaim the conditioned soul to be Näräyaëa.
Those who follow the incorrect conception of the Bäulas, consider the state of Lord Näräyaëa, who is the controller of mäyä, to be the same as the state of those jévas who are bound by mäyä. Thus they name the living entities jéva-näräyaëa (“living entity Näräyaëa”), daridra-näräyaëa (“poor Näräyaëa”), açva-näräyaëa (“horse Näräyaëa”), måga-näräyaëa (“deer Näräyaëa”), manuñya-näräyaëa (“human Näräyaëa”) and so forth. They preach that the satisfaction of two mundane objects, the body and mind, is indeed service to Näräyaëa. The terms daridra-näräyaëa, manuñyanäräyaëa and so forth are as illogical and dishonest as saying “My clay pot is made of gold”. Simply adding the names “Näräyaëa” or “Éçvara” to the name of a jéva cannot convert that jéva into prabhu-tattva; rather, it makes him a hypocrite.
yas tu näräyaëaà devaà brahma-rudrädi-daivataiù
samatvenaiva vék ñeta sa päñaëòé bhaved dhruvam
An atheist (päñaëòé) is one who considers great
demigods such as Lord Brahmä and Lord Çiva to be
equal to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord
Çréman Mahäprabhu declares:
yei müòha kahe – jéva éçvara haya ‘sama’
seita ‘päñaëòé’ haya, daëòe täre yama
Çré Caitanya-caritämåta (Madhya 18.115)
A foolish person who says that the Supreme
is the same as the living entity is an atheist
(päñaëòé), and he becomes subject to punishment by
Yamaräja, the superintendent of death.
Daridratva, the state of poverty, is not the same as näräyaëtva, the state of being Bhagavän (prabhutattva). Rather, the state of poverty is completely devoid of näräyaëtva. A deer and a human are not the controllers of mäyä. Rather, they are controlled by mäyä. Näräyaëa is constantly situated as the indwelling Supersoul within the poor, within animals and within
humans; however the poor, the animals and humans cannot be regarded as Näräyaëa. The external covering of mäyä leads one to perceive a living entity as poor, as an animal or as a human. Only when this covering and the influence of mäyä’s “throwing potency” are dispelled, can one clearly witness the real existence of the indwelling witness (Näräyaëa) and the eternal nature of the pure jévätmä, who is an aàça or part of Näräyaëa.
Guru and Vaiñëavas are not affected by the influence of the external potency of Näräyaëa; therefore they are liberated (mukta), pure (çuddha) and eternal (nitya). To render constant service to them is indeed the jéva’s eternal engagement. Guru and Vaiñëavas are not in the category of ordinary jévas. As long as a jéva is seen to be conditioned, it is obligatory to show him compassion. And when a jéva is seen to be liberated, it is necessary to serve him. Mahä-bhägavatas look upon all with equal vision – a cow, a horse, an ass and a dog eater– and they see everyone as a Vaiñëava. With this knowledge they engage in rendering service to everyone. In their vision they do not imagine or impose transcendence upon mundane phenomena. For instance, they do not see the poor as Näräyaëa, humans as Näräyaëa or the deer as Näräyaëa. This is the misconception of the Bäulas or the Mäyävädés.
Mahä-bhägavatas do not imagine the jévätmä to be Näräyaëa; therefore they do not render transitory service to the covering of mäyä or to the phenomena of the mundane body and mind, which is nothing but the transformation of mäyä’s “throwing potency”. Their sevä is eternal and their ego as a servant of Bhagavän is also eternal.
What depth of knowledge and intelligence do those persons possess who create chaos in the name of jéva-sevä or imagine that service to “poor Näräyaëa”, “human Näräyaëa” and “deer Näräyaëa” is real service, and in so doing try to establish themselves as great benevolent religious leaders and philanthropists before the ignorant masses of the world? Thoughtful people can easily see through this. However, these fashionable arguments can weaken even wise thinkers within human society and cause them to be deluded by these ordinary matters.
Çré Bhägavata does not mention anything about jéva-sevä. Its message is to render service unto Çré Hari, guru and Vaiñëavas and have compassion upon the conditioned souls. In the example of King Bharata, Çré Bhägavata shows us that the great åñi Bharata brought obstacles to his own path of self-realisation and to his supreme auspiciousness by serving a jéva in the conditioned state who had the body of a deer. By denouncing such jéva-sevä, Çré Bhägavata informs us of the conceptions of devotees who are madhyama- and uttama-bhägavatas.
bäliçeñu dviñatsu ca
yaù karoti sa madhyamaù
A madhyama-bhägavata is one who loves Éçvara, is
friendly towards His bhaktas, shows mercy towards
those who are ignorant of bhakti, and neglects those
who are inimical to Éçvara or His bhaktas.
sarva-bhüteñu yaù paçyed
bhütäni bhagavaty ätmany
One who sees his own bhagavad-bhäva, ecstatic
mood of attraction towards Çré Kåñëacandra, in the
hearts of all jévas (sarva-bhüteñu) and sees all beings
within Kåñëacandra is an uttama-bhägavata.
sthävara jaìgama dekhe nä dekhe tära mürti
sarvatra haya nija iñöa-deva-sphürti
Çré Caitanya-caritämåta (Madhya 8.274)
The mahä-bhägavata certainly sees everything that is
moving and non-moving, but he does not exactly see
their forms. Rather, wherever he looks he sees the
manifestation of the form of his most worshipable
A madhyama-adhikäré Vaiñëava should render service to one who is an uttama-adhikäré, and he should do so for the uttama-adhikäré’s happiness and satisfaction. The madhyama-adhikäré Vaiñëava should care for him in every respect, even rendering menial service to him; but he should not try to satisfy the senses of the conditioned souls, because by this he will gain no eternal welfare or auspiciousness either for himself or for others. We have to always keep in mind that when the ätmä’s eternal relationship with Kåñëa is awakened, the sole object of the ätmä’s eternal function – which is service (sevä) – is Çré Hari, guru and Vaiñëavas. In other words, service should be rendered to the independent, pure form of Bhagavän in Vaikuëöha (bhägavatasvarüpa) and to Bhagavän’s expansions (tad-rüpavaibhäva), but not to the bound jévas or to the external energy (pradhäna).
Because we have forgotten our svarüpa and lack transcendental intelligence, the service we perform with the body and mind is synonymous with enjoyment based on gratifying the mundane senses. The object of such service is not Bhagavän and His expansions; rather, it is the conditioned soul and the material energy. Neither of these is a pure, conscious entity of
Vaikuëöha. Presently the consciousness of the conditioned soul is averse to Kåñëa. To redirect that consciousness toward Kåñëa is to show the jéva the highest form of compassion.
Jéva-sevä is never possible. In other words, the function of the jéva’s transcendental senses can never be used to provide sense pleasure to the conscious entities who are covered by non-reality or ignorance. Rather, the function of his transcendental senses is to constantly be engaged in executing service for the pleasure of Éçvara, the Lord of the entire conscious and non-conscious creation, and to His consort Içvaré. This is a fact.
The terms jéve-dayä and vaiñëava-sevä are logical and bestow supreme auspiciousness. Çréman Mahäprabhu displayed the ideal of this jéve-dayä and vaiñëava-sevä. By performing kértana of Bhagavän’s glories, amandodaya-dayä, or pure compassion which never diminishes at any point in time and which never gives negative results, is shown to an unlimited number of bound jévas. And by rendering service to the Vaiñëavas who are performing kértana in a way that is favourable in every respect, the soul’s function fully awakens.
By personally preaching bhägavata-kathä from village to village and by engaging His devotees as preachers, Mahäprabhu presented the example of amandodaya-dayä. Furthermore He also demonstrated the ideal of service to Vaiñëavas who are constantly engaged in kértana. We have to always remember that if we transgress the teachings of Çrémad-Bhägavatam and Çréman Mahäprabhu by becoming engrossed in modern opinions born of mental speculation, we will
in fact be deceived of service to Bhagavän. After hearing a lengthy discourse on jéva-sevä we should not go on to become Mäyävädés, Bäulas, präkåta-sahajiyäs or cit-jaòa-samanvyavädés (persons who equate transcendence with worldliness) and thus deviate from the genuine path. May jéve-dayä and vaiñëava-sevä be our sole ideal. May jéve-dayä, näme-ruci and vaiñëavasevä be our sole guiding principles.
Sri Srimad Bhakti Prajnana
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