May 24, 2020
Questions & Answers
DEVOTEE (1): Is there any difference in the quality of the living entities? A living entity might be doing more service than another or the same work for the Lord. So is there any quality difference among the living entities?
GIRIRAJ SWAMI: All the living entities are the same – jivera svarupa hoya, krsnera nitya dasa. But still we have our eternal relationships with Krishna, and those vary from individual to individual. But we can’t say that one is better than another, because Krishna loves all of us and He wants all of us to come to Him and serve Him according to our individuality. So they’re all good, they’re all good.
DEVOTEE (2): It is mentioned that the Lord and the living entities are the same in quality but different in quantity. Could you please explain a little more?
GIRIRAJ SWAMI: Srila Prabhupada gave the example that a drop of water from the ocean has the same qualities as the ocean, the same chemical composition as the ocean. But the quantity of a drop of water and the quantity of the ocean are vastly different.
DEVOTEE (3): It says in the translation that everyone is an eternal servant of God and therefore we are not different from one another. But at the same time, as practicing devotees, we sometimes make some distinction between devotees and non-devotees. Even among devotees we have distinctions like kanistha adhikari, madhyama adhikari, and uttama adhikari and we have different protocols to deal with them. So how do you connect these two things together?
GIRIRAJ SWAMI: That’s a very good question. Srimad-Bhagavatam says ‘prema-maitri-krpopeksa’. ‘Prema’ – we give our love to the Supreme Personality of Godhead; ‘maitri’ – we make friendship with the devotees; ‘krpa’ – we give mercy to the innocent, and ‘upeksah’ – we neglect the envious. So a madhyama bhakta by definition makes those distinctions. And even a mahabhagavata, when he preaches, in a way, he has to come down to the madhyama platform because he has to make those distinctions. Otherwise a mahabhagavata, he thinks that everyone is serving Krishna except himself. He sees no need to preach, because everyone’s already serving Krishna. So that’s a very high level of ekatvam. But that is not for us to imitate – Srila Prabhupada said he wanted us to act on the platform of madhyama bhaktas. So you do have to make that distinction.
And even with devotees, we make further distinctions, as you mentioned. And this is also described by Srila Rupa Goswami in the Upadesamrta, because he discusses the sixfold exchanges of love: priti-laksana. But then Srila Prabhupada mentions in his purport that in order to intelligently apply the sixfold exchanges of love, one has to be able to distinguish between different levels of devotees. And the uttama-bhagavata, the maha-bhagavata, one of his characteristics is ninda-sunyam: he is completely free from the propensity to criticize others. So yes, Srila Prabhupada says in order to intelligently apply these sixfold loving exchanges, we have to distinguish between different grades of devotees and deal with them differently. And he says one should give one’s life to the uttama-adhikari. So yes, we do need to make those distinctions.
But it should be for a reason – not because we’re in the mood of judging, “Oh this one’s that, this one’s that, I am this”. Not just judging gratuitously, for no reason. But with reason, to understand intelligently how to apply these sixfold loving exchanges.
But this reminded me, once Srila Prabhupada was speaking about brahmanas, ksatriyas, vaisyas, and sudras. It was a public lecture. And then someone said, “So what are you?” They said, “Well you’re the highest.” And Srila Prabhupada looked down with all humility, genuinely, he said, “I am the lowest. I’m the servant of all the others.” That’s gopi-bhartuh pada-kamalayor dasa-dasanudasah. Prabhupada really felt that way.