Devotee: What should a devotee do when he is continually being attacked by lust, anger and greed?
Srila Sridhar Maharaj: One should cry for the help of the sadhu; the sadhus are posted from above. There are many who are progressing from the mundane world to the spiritual world, and special sadhus are given charge to protect those travelers. So the devotee will cry aloud: “I am going to be plundered! Give me protection!” With fervor, he will move all his nerve to the extreme: “I must not allow myself to be plundered by you! All my previous tendencies have shaped my fate, and now they have appeared; I am prey to all those nasty plunderers – please protect me! Kama, krodha and lobha (lust, anger and greed) are jumping at me!”
There are also so many artificial methods:
yamadibhir yogapathaih kama-lobha-hato muhuh
mukunda-sevaya yadvat tathaddhatma na samyati
The practices of sitting postures (asanas), breath control (pranayama), etc., may help us to a slight degree, but only superficially. The deep seed can be eliminated only by taking Mukunda on the throne of our heart. (Mukunda sevaya yadvat tathaddhatma na samyati). If one goes on with the artificial means of pranayama and so on, lust and anger may seem to be a little reduced in power for the time being, but this is not a permanent cure. When the practices are slackened, they arise again. The relief from lust, anger and greed is only temporary.
The meditators and renouncers (yogis, jnanis) think these practices will quench their inner thirst, and they go on with constant deep meditation (nidhidhyasanam) while keeping guard outwardly with some external practices. But the devotees do not have any faith in this method. They consider the whole thing artificial. They only want to invite Vasudeva in all phases of their lives, and in this way they permanently do away with those
Devotee: Maharaj, in the beginning we’re taught to follow. But it seems there is a point where we imitate, and then follow later. Because we have no qualification, when we try to follow we are actually imitating somehow. So what’s the difference between the two? When does imitation or anukarana become following or anusarana?
Srila Sridhar Maharaj: In anusarana, following, there is sincerity; and anukarana, imitation, is only for name and fame, or pratistha. To only imitate devotion outwardly without inner purity is more or less done to get the glory of a sadhu. And anusarana means to attain from the heart, sincerely. So true following is sincere progress, and imitation is artificiality.
It has been practically experienced that responsible services can help us from falling prey to lust, anger, etc. Foremost is faith (sraddha), next is the association of pure devotees (sadhu-sanga) and deep engagement with the duties prescribed by the Divine Master (bhajana-kriya). Deep engagement is necessary, especially for the mind, not merely the body. And mental engagement can be attained only by responsibility. Some responsible service is given to the disciple. He feels weight and it occupies his brain; he cannot but think about it – the mind is engaged there, surely. So the mind gets no chance to dwell on lower things. This is the beauty of deep engagement in responsible Service. In the practical sense, that helps us a great deal. Then association and Scriptures will really be of substantial help to us: as Service (pariprasna, sevaya). As much as we are able to engage ourselves in deep, responsible services, the enemies’ effect on us will be minimized. They will come and peep, and will step back saying, “No – no time. He is deeply engaged. He has no time to give attention to us. He may not be enticed.” In this way, they will have to retreat. Then if they return once, twice, thrice or more – “Oh, no time. He has no attention to spare for us. He is very deeply engaged – for Seva.”
Seva, Service, should not be merely physical; there is mental Seva, and only responsibility can capture the mind. In responsibility, the mind is compelled to think on the matter; otherwise, the mind may be free to wander hither and thither even while the body is apparently engaged. So engage the mind in deep Service, responsible Service.
[Excerpted from the Chapter One: “Invite Vasudeva to the Throne of Your Heart” of “Sermons from the Guardian of Devotion Vol. 2.” From Srila Bhakti Rakshak Sridhar Maharaja’s Folio]