The importance of serving devotees.
When Achyutananda went with us to my birth place, some educated people there asked him, “We are so near, but we cannot understand Mahaprabhu. How is it that from far away you have come to appreciate Him? We cannot conceive how you can understand Him clearly.”
brahmanda bhramite kona bhagyavan jiva
guru-krsna-prasade paya bhakti-lata-bija
(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Madhya-lila, 19.151)
[“While wandering throughout the world, a fortunate soul receives the seed of the creeper of devotion by the mercy of Sri Guru and Krishna.”]
That was his answer. “We are within the limits of His creation, and it is said that from wherever anyone gets sukrti (spiritual fortune), he may come forward. A few miles of distance—what is that?” I am adding to his answer. There are different casts within the creation. A tree may get sukrti when its flowers are offered to Krishna by a devotee. A cow gets sukrti when its milk is given to Krishna by a devotee. A dog may get sukrti when it watches over a Temple area and barks. Sukrti may be distributed in this way to any and every direction. So many leaves are offered to Krishna, and thereby vegetables get sukrti. In connection with the devotee, so many things acquire sukrti.
The door is open only through the devotee.
naisam matis tavad urukramanghrim
sprsaty anarthapagamo yad-arthah
niskinchananam na vrnita yavat
(Srimad Bhagavatam: 7.5.32)
[“So long as persons attached to worldly happiness do not bathe in the dust of the feet of the great souls who are detached from this world, their minds, which are intent upon the removal of misfortune, does not come in touch the Lord’s feet.”]
The medium of His devotee is indispensable. We must have a connection with His devotee. To go to Him, the indispensable necessity is His medium, His devotee. That is the door to enter. It is indispensable.
yatah khyatim yatam katham u sahate tad-vigarham
(Padma-purana: Brahma-khanda, 25.15)
[“How can the Name tolerate condemnation of those who spread the Name’s glories?”]
“I cannot tolerate any criticism against My devotees because their very business, their very tendency, their very existence, is to give Me out to all. If you criticise them, you are committing suicide, you are going to kill your own Guru, the source of your fortune. I cannot tolerate Vaisnava-ninda, Vaisnava-aparadha (criticism of or offences to devotees). I cannot tolerate it. I especially want to serve them, but I cannot. They won’t allow Me to serve them. My inner tendency is to give them something because they are giving Me everything. I want to give them something in return, but I am not eligible for that. So, if anyone comes to do that, I give Myself wholly to them.”
mad-bhaktanam cha ye bhaktas te me bhakta-tama matah
[“Those who are devotees of My devotees are My real devotees.”]
This is the underlying theory. “I always tend to give something to My devotees, but they will not accept anything from Me. Because of love, I cannot go against My devotees, but if anyhow I find someone is doing My work—serving My devotees—I cannot but be inclined towards them with great intensity.”
The Lord said to His servants in Vraja,
na paraye ’ham niravadya-samyujam
(Srimad Bhagavatam: 10.32.22)
“I declare that I fail. I fail to give you something in return, so I am in debt to you. The quality of service that you are rendering to Me is so great that there is nothing in My store to be found that I can give in return. So, I remain indebted to you. The quality of your service is so noble, magnanimous, great, and pure that I have nothing in store to give in return. I am indebted to you.”
na paraye ’ham niravadya-samyujam
sva-sadhu-krtyam vibudhayusapi vah
ya mabhajan durjaya-geha-srnkhalah
samvrschya tad vah pratiyatu sadhuna
[“Your meeting with Me is irreproachable. You have served Me, completely severing yourselves from the difficult-to-overcome bondage of family life. I cannot compensate you for this even within the lifetime of a god. May your own virtuous acts be your compensation.”