Book excerpts Sri Raya Ramananda Samvad Dāsya-prema – the love of a servant for Kṛṣṇa

Dāsya-prema – the love of a servant for Kṛṣṇa


prabhu kahe,—“eho haya, āge kaha āra”
rāya kahe,—“dāsya-prema—sarva-sādhya-sāra”

Śrīman Mahāprabhu said, “This is fine, but please speak something more.” Śrī Rāmānanda Rāya replied, “Loving service in servitude (dāsyaprema) – as exchanged by master and servant – is the essence of all perfection.

The bhakti of all devotees is not equal. There is a gradation. Jīvera svarūpa haya nitya kṛṣṇa-dāsa It is the living entity’s constitutional position to be an eternal servant of Kṛṣṇa.” This dāsyabhāva also has gradations within it. If rain falls at the time of the svāti-nakatra and falls upon an oyster, then that rain produces a pearl. If it falls on a banana plant it produces camphor, and if it falls on the head of an elephant it gives rise to gaja-muktā, a pearl found in the projections of an elephant’s forehead, and thus known as an elephant pearl. If that same rain falls upon the feet of a cow it makes a yellow pigment called gorocanā, and if it falls on bamboo, then vaśa-locana, which is a milky colored substance is formed in the hollow of the bamboo.

Different transformations take place, depending on the objects the rain falls upon. Similarly, if a variety of seeds, such as mango, neem, and tamarind, are planted in the same garden and watered with the same Ganges water, three different kinds of fruit-bearing trees will appear. In the same way, despite the fact that everyone is a servant of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, each person’s eternal constitutional service mood is different, and because these service moods are variegated, the happiness derived from the service, is also variegated. By performing service, worship, and sādhana under the guidance of śrī gurudeva and Vaiṣṇavas, the eternal constitutional position of the sādhaka, the nitya-svarūpa, manifests itself. Beforehand, śuddha-sattva must necessarily manifest in the heart.

The essential meaning of dāsyabhāva is as follows: “Śrī Bhagavān is the object of service. He is my master (prabhu) and I am His servant (dāsa).” The service propensity (sevā-vāsanā) that accompanies this mood of servitorship is called dāsyaprema. Service rendered to Bhagavān that is devoid of this dāsyabhāva and its accompanying feelings of possessiveness (mamatā), is called ordinary premabhakti, or śāntaprema; it cannot establish a relationship with Bhagavān.

When one’s feeling of possessiveness of the Lord gradually increases, this ordinary prema (śānta-prema) transforms into the mood of a servant (dāsya-bhāva). More complete feelings of servitorship are found within all the Lord’s associates who participate in His pastimes. This mood of servitude is present completely in the devotees in dāsya-rasa, more completely in the devotees in the mellow of friendship (sakhya-rasa), most completely in the devotees in the parental mood (vātsalya-rasa), and is totally complete in the devotees in the amorous mellow (madhura-rasa).

In the dāsya-bhakti of the devotees of Vraja, mamatā (excessive feelings of intimacy, or possessiveness) are mixed with feelings of fraternity and parental affection for Śrī Kṛṣṇa. The various types of wonderment of prema, all of which consist of the desire to please Śrī Kṛṣṇa, present themselves through devotional service rendered in the mood of servitude (dāsya-sevā). For the glorification of dāsyaprema, Śrī Rāmānanda Rāya quotes the following verse from Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam:


yan-nāma-śruti-mātrea pumān bhavati nirmala
tasya tīrtha-pada
ki vā dāsānām avaśiyate

Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (9.5.16)

Śrī Durvāsā, the best of ṛṣis, said to Ambarīa Mahārāja, ‘Simply by hearing the all auspicious names of Bhagavān, the jīva becomes pure, so for those who are the servants of the lotus feet of tīrtha-pada Bhagavān, what desirable object remains to be still attained?’


bhavantam evānucaran nirantara
kadāham aikāntika-nitya-ki
yāmi sa-nātha-jīvitam

Stotra-ratna (43)

by Śrī Yāmuna Muni (Śrī Yāmunācārya)

“ ‘O Lord, when will I become Your eternal, one-pointed servant, renouncing all desires apart from serving You, and always feeling joyful because of having such a glorious master?’

Śrī Cakravartī hākura explains that it is clear from both of these verses that there is nothing the servant of Bhagavān cannot attain. In both cases, the devotee’s only prayer is for the feeling of eternal exclusive servitorship. Service to Śrī Kṛṣṇa is the only success of life.

In dāsyaprema, the specialty of premabhakti is concealed. This dāsyarasa flows continuously in Vaikuṇṭha, Ayodhyā, Dvārakā, Mathurā, and Vraja; yet throughout these holy abodes, dāsya-rasa exists in special types of gradation. The feelings of awe and reverence (aiśvarya) diminish as one progresses from Vaikuṇṭha to Ayodhyā, to Dvārakā, and finally to Vraja. As one advances towards Vraja, the feelings of reverence that are present in the devotees in the mood of servitorship of Vaikuṇṭha are gradually concealed. Also, as one approaches Vraja, the sweetness of prema as well as feelings of possessiveness for the Lord increase.

In his Śrī Bhad-bhāgavatāmta Śrī Sanātana Gosvāmī says that the minds of the dāsya-bhaktas of Vndāvana are attracted only to the service of Vrajendra-nandana Śrī Kṛṣṇa, and nothing else. On the other hand, when the dāsyabhaktas of Vaikuṇṭha, Ayodhyā, Dvārakā, and Mathurā see the service of the dāsyabhaktas of Vraja, their greed awakens for that. It is not that there is no opulence in Vraja; indeed it exists in great profusion. Kṛṣṇa’s lifting Śrī Govardhana for seven days with one hand, killing demons such as Pūtanā and Aghāsura, showing Mother Yaśodā unlimited universes within His mouth – all these pastimes are full of opulence, but the Vrajavāsīs considered such displays of majesty to be the power of Nārāyaa, the influence of the illusory energy, or the spell of some witch.

For this reason, when Kanhaiyā (a pet name of Śrī Kṛṣṇa) displayed unlimited universes within His mouth, Mother Yaśodā thought, “Some witch has attacked my son.” In order to protect Him, the controller of all, she bathed Him in cow dung and cow urine, engaged the brāhmaas in chanting protective mantras and incantations for Him, and gave away charity on His behalf.

In fact, in dāsyabhāva, one constantly ponders, “What service can I do?” Hence in this present verse, the word kikara1 has been used for the devotees of dāsyabhāva. It has already been mentioned that there is no śuddhadāsya (feelings of pure, unmixed servitorship) in the dāsya devotees of Vraja; rather their mood of dāsya is mixed with feelings of friendship (sakhya) and parental affection (vātsalyabhāva).

Another speciality of the dāsyabhaktas of Vraja is that again, unlike the dāsya devotees of other places, there are no feelings of pure respect and reverence. Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī hākura reveals that devotees of dāsyabhāva in the mood of awe and reverence have a concept that offenses can be committed in their service; therefore for them, there is no deluge of prema. In dāsyaprema, service is not fully developed.

The service of the dāsyabhaktas Jaya and Vijaya in Vaikuṇṭha, composed of feelings of pure awe and reverence, is extraordinarily beautiful, but in those bhaktas, we cannot see the mood of viśrambha-sevā, pure service performed with intimacy and devoid of feelings of awe and reverence. In order to fulfill the desire of their Lord, during the pastimes accomplished by Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s creative internal potency (yogamāyā), they accepted three births in demonic species. By doing so they gave their Lord an opportunity to taste vīra-rasa, or happiness obtained in fighting, in its completeness. In one form they were providing Him with a taste of this chivalrous mellow (vīra-rasa), and simultaneously, in another form, or svarūpa, they were engaged in their service in Vaikuṇṭha.

Almost all the devotees in Ayodhyā are in dāsyabhāva. Amongst all of the servants there, Śrī Hanumān is the topmost. Hanumān serves his Lord, Śrī Rāma, with his full life force. Because of his great thirst for service, he warmly welcomes any type of service to Śrī Rāma.

Rāma is present in every pore of his entire being, and his every breath contains Rāma. Rāma is his life and soul. When by trickery, Ahi-Rāvaa, the adopted younger brother of Rāvaa, took Śrī Rāma and Lakmaa to Pātāla-loka as a human sacrifice, then and there Hanumān killed him, and seating Rāma and Lakmaa upon his shoulders, he took them away from there. But he cannot serve the Lord like the dāsyabhaktas of Vraja; he cannot take his Lord on his lap, nor can he kiss Him.

It can be accepted that the dāsyabhaktas of Dvārakā are superior to the dāsyabhaktas of Ayodhyā, but even within them, there is not so much as a scent of sakhya (friendship).

Śrīman Mahāprabhu, thinking that now Śrī Rāmānanda Rāya was approaching the desired sādhya, said:


1The word kikara comes from ki karomi, meaning, “What may I do? What service can I do?”

[CC-by-ND GVP]

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You can give us your blood as tax.’ ‘What will you do with our blood?’ ‘Our king will drink your blood and become more powerful.’ ‘If the sādhus are weak and not doing bhajana,’ the demons thought, ‘then our king will never be defeated, thus, we must kill them or take their blood as tax.’ “Rāvaṇa had conquered heaven, and was controlling the world, but he wanted more power and so he thought, ‘If I drink the blood of the sages, I will acquire the strength of their austerities.’ “The rākṣasas brought a gold pot, and the sages cut open their thighs and gave blood, saying, ‘Take this blood to Rāvaṇa and tell him it will destroy his dynasty!’ The rākṣasas took the pot to Laṅkā, but Rāvaṇa was not present at the time. Hearing of the curse, his wife Mandodari said, ‘Take this pot and bury it at once under the Himālayas! I will give Rāvaṇa animal blood in its place.’ “The pot was buried in the mountainous region of Mithilā where Janaka Mahārāja ruled. Henceforth, Mithilā became devastated by drought, and the women and animals became barren. Desperate to save his kingdom and people, Janaka Mahārāja consulted his brāhmaṇa advisors and planned to begin a sacrifice. While plowing the ground to clean the ceremonial area, they dug up a golden pot and, upon opening it, found a beautiful baby girl inside—Sītā-devī. Sītā was the embodiment of the sādhu’s curse on Rāvaṇa, and in due course she was the cause of the destruction of Rāvaṇa and his dynasty.” Śrīla Gurudeva continued, “Rāma went to the forest for 14 years. There He killed the demons that attacked the sādhus. And when He met the ascetics, He instructed them, ‘Your tapa-bala, strength from austerities, is lost when you become angry. At that me demons can easily devour you.’ “Sādhus that stayed in the āśramas of Gautama, Yājñavalkya, Viśvāmrita, and other great ṛṣis, were not tortured by the demons. Demonic people will torment sādhus that do not surrender to a pure guru and instead try to practice bhajana alone, without kīrtana or hari-kathā. Only those sādhus that were not under the shelter of powerful ṛṣis could be attacked by the rākṣasas. Some think, ‘If I’m alone then I can do bhajana without disturbance.’ Gurudeva concluded, “The sheltered soul who sincerely practices sādhana-bhajana, following the instruction of his Guru-pāda-padma, never falters in his spiritual practice, even if he is subjected to trial upon trial. However, one who gratifies his senses on the pretense of bhajana will surely suffer many tribulations.” The sādhus arranged a large procession to the government offices in Delhi in protest but their calls for justice were ignored. Later, a law was passed stating that sādhus must register with the government, only then would they be left in peace. The government leaders stated, “Rickshaw drivers, thieves, and rogues dress in saffron, either don dreadlocks or completely shave, and beg house-to-house. Posing as saints, they spoil ingenuous women, and thus many illegitimate children are spawned—causing a nuisance to society.” The government also began to charge a toll to enter Vṛndāvana and Govardhana. Checkpoints were set up on the roads and visors entering Vṛndāvana had to incur levies. The penniless sādhus were also expected to pay before they could enter Vṛndāvana. Violators were arrested and ordered to pay the fee. The sādhus became irate. Where were they supposed to get money for paying taxes? They complained to Śrīla Gurudeva about the situation and as a result he met with many high-ranking officials. Eventually, he registered a lawsuit with the magistrate, and by his influence this unjust regulation was terminated and the tax checkpoints shut down. Sādhus had to tolerate immense hardship in those years. 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His whole body appeared rotten, and no one wanted to take care of him. Śrīla Gurudeva called for one of his dear brahmacārīs. When he came, Śrīla Gurudeva said, “Care for this sādhu, he is a disciple of Prabhupāda Sarasvatī Ṭhākura. Help him.” The Bābā was senseless. His body was pale and worms were clinging to his sores. The brahmacārī removed the worms and washed his wounds with disinfectants. The doctors gave him medicine and many injections, while the brahmacārī regularly cleaned his wounds and body. Soon he regained consciousness and eventually was completely cured. As soon as he was well again he came to see Śrīla Gurudeva in Keśavajī Gauḍīya Maṭha. “By your mercy I have received new life,” he said. “I have some money in my bank account, please take it. “I did not serve you for selfish reasons,” Śrīla Gurudeva said. “Just promise that you will not go back to that tower.” “I will go back,” the Bābā said boldly. “If Kṛṣṇa wants, He may kill me.” “Please stay here in the temple,” Śrīla Gurudeva requested. Despite Gurudeva’s requests, Govardhana dāsa Bābājī returned to his previous residence after staying for some time in the temple. In those days it was difficult for sādhus. People thought, “Why should we give money to sādhus? They are very rich.” Hence Śrīla Gurudeva never accepted money from people disinclined to bhakti. Most people doubted sādhus at the time and only a few people came to the temple. 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We are ready to suffer for this sin.” The police did not arrest them, and instead they left their case in God’s judgement. Later, the offenders suffered greatly as a result of their sin. People like this are great offenders to Vraja. Śrīla Gurudeva went from village to village meeting with the people of Vṛndāvana and Mathurā. He warned them, “Don’t disturb the bābājīs, they have come for bhajana. You should support them. They only need a small amount of flour and vegetables for their sustenance.” Gurudeva changed the minds of many doubtful people who assumed that all bābājīs and sādhus were imposters, cheaters, and thieves. He thus protected Vraja-maṇḍala and the real Vrajavāsīs. Śrīla Gurudeva began to print many books and as these books were distributed, people began to have more respect for sādhus. In this way, Gurudeva’s influence transformed the nature of the people living in Vraja-maṇḍala. Srila Gurudeva ki Jaya! (Excerpted from the Bhaktabandhav book publication, “Sri Guru Darshan”. Available from )

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