Shri Datta Swami

Posted on: 13 Nov 2019

     

If service and sacrifice are the highest, is devotion a waste?

Can we conclude that theoretical devotion is a waste as compared to practical devotion involving service and sacrifice? [This question is part of a mahā satsaṅga or a great spiritual discussion between Swami and several devotees who had come from various places, seeking the clarification of their doubts.]

Swami replied: Certainly not! Unless you completely know the personality of God through theoretical knowledge, devotion will not be born at all. Had Rukmiṇī not heard about Krishna from Nārada, she would have not developed any attraction (theoretical) for Krishna. Without the attraction to Krishna, she would not have sent the messenger to Krishna requesting Him to marry her, which is practical devotion. Mere service and sacrifice can never be called practical devotion (karma yoga), if it is not accompanied by theoretical devotion in the heart and the theoretical knowledge of the personality of God in the intellect. Without the theoretical devotion in mind and the theoretical knowledge in the intellect, mere inert service and sacrifice are not only useless but they are also impossible. Practical service is the result of an appropriate emotion in the mind. The emotion is devotion when the practical sacrifice is done for God. Alternatively, kindness towards a beggar or gratitude towards a person who has helped us earlier, can produce practical sacrifice towards the respective persons. Doing practical service and sacrifice even without theoretical devotion is meaningful in the case of a beggar, who needs the service and sacrifice (donation). The service and sacrifice done by you for a person who has helped you, is only an expression of gratefulness, which is only a dignified form of business. The case of God is different from these two. God is not a beggar in need of your help, so, the first case is not applicable. As far as the second case of gratitude is concerned, God has actually helped you infinitely in the past. But God keeps His help to you secret, so that when you serve Him or sacrifice your wealth to Him, it does not become a case of gratefulness. If you come to know that God has helped you earlier, your service and sacrifice becomes a mere return of the favour. It becomes mere business, if analyzed deeply. So, when God asks for your help, it does not fall in any of these two categories. He demands practical devotion from you only as a proof of your real theoretical devotion. It is like a grandfather asking for a piece of a biscuit from his grandson. The grandson is unaware that it was the grandfather who had bought the packet of biscuits originally. The grandfather is only testing the reality of his grandson’s love for him. If theoretical devotion is absent, mere practical devotion is like a dead body without life. On the other hand mere theoretical devotion without even a trace of practical devotion is cunning prostitute-devotion, which is only a pretense (acting) of devotion. The theoretical knowledge in the intellect, the theoretical devotion in the mind and the practical devotion involving service and sacrifice are all related. All the three are equally important in the case of the omniscient God.

| Shri Dattaswami | Narada Rukmini