Are you a soldier or a beggar? – Part 4

“Only if a living entity gives up the false conception that the body is the self and always thinks himself an eternal servant of Krishna and the Vaishnavas can he surpass the influence of Maya.” – (Srila Prabhupada purport to Chaitanya Charitamrita, Antya 3. 251)

The final test

The Lord in great happiness asked him who he was. At this time, the king could have introduced himself as the Emperor who had tried many times before to meet the Lord. The king, fixed in his spiritual identity, humbly presented himself as a servant of the servant of Lord’s devotees.

“The king replied, “My Lord, I am the most obedient servant of Your servants. It is my ambition that You will accept me as the servant of Your servants.” (CC- Madhya 14.18)

In a dramatic story with many twists and turns, as recounted in the Madhya lila of Chaitanya Charitamrita, the king finally wins the Lord’s favour.

What is noteworthy in this episode is the king’s moving away from his position as a royal warrior/administrator to that of a humble beggar.

Often we identify ourselves with our external designations – birth, caste, gender, ability, qualifications, beauty, and Facebook followers. But to win the Lord’s favour, one needs to move away from these limiting titles and focus on our inherent nature of being a servant of the Lord. Just as water is liquid in its constitutional position or a chilly is hot or sugar is sweet, likewise the living entity – you and me- the soul- is a servant of the Lord.

When we play the ‘beggar’ role, we seek to realign to this original nature of ours – we want to be a servant of Krishna. And when we happily serve the devotees of Krishna, we please Krishna and convince Him of our intentions to be reinstated in our relationship with the Lord.

This is precisely what Emperor Prataprudra did.

A servant who humbly serves all and cultivates the mood of a beggar becomes dear to Krishna.

Srila Prabhupada writes in Teachings of Lord Kapila (Chapter 14), “Chaitanya Mahaprabhu teaches us that we should only beg God for His service life and after life. This is the actual meaning of the Hare Krishna Maha Mantra.”

Below is a journal entry from one such beggar:

“In my first two decades of practice of Krishna consciousness, I was a brave soldier. Now I take retirement and chose to be a beggar. The ‘control’ of a soldier now makes way for ‘surrender’ of a beggar. From fighting, I now move to receiving. I live in my world of prayers and beg the Lord for grace and render menial service in Srila Prabhupada’s army. A soldier gets medals; he has glamour. But a beggar is ‘insignificant’ and receives either compassion or neglect. The reality is I need kindness and not honour. Besides, no one is threatened by a beggar. As a solider, I fought my mind for twenty years, but now as a beggar, I make peace with my mind and beg mercy from Krishna. As a soldier, I had become tough and my spiritual emotions got buried. But now as a beggar I seek love and compassion from Krishna.

Srila Prabhupada has written in the Krishna book that the art of focussing one’s attention on the Supreme and giving one’s love to Him is called Krishna consciousness. Therefore I want to focus on Krishna; I want to give my heart to Krishna. And I have wasted so much time, trying hard to achieve so many material things. Now at last, let me endeavour to elevate myself spiritually.

And I will fight, but now as a beggar of Krishna, and for Krishna’s pleasure. Srila Prabhupada has taught us that Arjina was a fighter before understanding the Bhagavad Gita, and after understanding the Bhagavad Gita, he remained a fighter.….”