Question: Do you have any comment on the relationship between chanting and service?
Srila Govinda Maharaj: Chanting Hari-nam and service are both of the same category, but service gives us the strength to chant. That is, service is more important than chanting. This is the Rupanuga-dhara. Chanting is no doubt very important, and through chanting we got inspiration to serve, but if we try to chant through service, that is better. I cannot chant properly, this is true. So many things come to the mind during the chanting time. The mind is crazy: we are chanting, “Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna” and thinking, “This is going wrong, that is going wrong.” Our mind always goes in this zigzag way. The mind is always unsettled, so it is better if we try through service to chant.
Srila Guru Maharaj said that in a higher stage, our conception will be, “My Gurudev will chant, and I shall serve him.” This is a higher stage, not the first stage, and the Guru must have that type of qualification. He will chant, and I shall serve him. That is my duty. I did this in the time of Guru Maharaj: I would not go to the temple room or anywhere from my Math without Guru Maharaj’s permission. What is his order, I am carrying that out. This was my life from childhood when I came and joined Guru Maharaj.
I am not afraid for my spiritual life. I am always very happy with my spiritual life. “I have not done this, I have not done this, I have not done this”—I am not thinking like that. What I can do I am trying to do. This was my motive, and Guru Maharaj was very happy with this. Guru Maharaj told his devotees many times, “Follow Govinda Maharaj. What he is doing is correct, so you go with him.” If anybody wanted to take any instruction from Guru Maharaj, Guru Maharaj would immediately send them to me. Guru Maharaj knows I am established in this consciousness, and this is the correct consciousness, no doubt. I have no doubt. If I die in this position, I am very happy, but I do not want to die, I want to serve! This motivation is very nice, and Guru Maharaj was very happy with this motivation.
Srila Swami Maharaj wrote in a letter to me, “Ask your Guru Maharaj, what will be for me in the future if I die in the West? I want to die in Vrndavan but I have so much work in the West. I cannot go to Vrndavan but my health is not well, so what will be if I die here? Suddenly death can come. I have had the ‘death signal’ once or twice. So, you ask your Guru Maharaj what will be. Shall I leave all this and go to Vrndavan or shall I stay here?”
Then I gave the answer after asking Guru Maharaj: Guru Maharaj said that wherever Swami Maharaj is living, Vrndavan will go there. When he will die, he will die in Vrndavan: that may be in California, or New York, or London. This is the proper idea.
Spoken on 9 March 1989.
The original audio recording of this talk can be heard here.