Bhaktivedanta VedaBase: Mukunda-mālā-stotra 25
maj-janmanaḥ phalam idaḿ madhu-kaiṭabhāre
mat-prārthanīya-mad-anugraha eṣa eva
bhṛtyasya bhṛtya iti māḿ smara loka-nātha
mat — my; janmanaḥ — of the birth; phalam — the fruit; idam — this; madhu-kaiṭabha-are — O enemy of Madhu and Kaiṭabha; mat — by me; prārthanīya — prayed for; mat — to me; anugrahaḥ — mercy; eṣaḥ — this; eva — certainly; tvat — Your; bhṛtya-bhṛtya — of the servant's servant; paricāraka — of the servant; bhṛtya-bhṛtya-bhṛtyasya — of the servant of the servant of the servant; bhṛtyaḥ — the servant; iti — so; mām — me; smara — think of; loka — of the world; nātha — O master.
O enemy of Madhu and Kaiṭabha, O Lord of the universe, the perfection of my life and the most cherished mercy You could show me would be for You to consider me the servant of the servant of the servant of the servant of the servant of the servant of Your servant.
This verse is startling for its repetition of the word "servant" seven times. One can almost picture all the servants of the Lord whom Kulaśekhara wishes to serve. Direct servants of Lord Kṛṣṇa are Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī or Lord Balarāma and other gopīs and cowherd boys. Some of the gopīs and cowherd boys are assistants to the direct servants. Among these assistants are the mañjarīs, who help Rādhārāṇī serve Kṛṣṇa and who, according to Her, experience a happiness even greater than Hers. The Vaiṣṇava spiritual masters, especially those in the mādhurya-rasa, serve the gopīs, and each spiritual master is being served by his disciples. In the modern age Lord Kṛṣṇa appeared as Lord Caitanya, who was served directly by the six Gosvāmīs of Vṛndāvana, and these Gosvāmīs also took disciples, such as Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja, who in turn accepted disciples — and His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda is in the eleventh spiritual generation of that Caitanya-sampradāya. So the phrase tvad-bhṛtya-bhṛtya-paricāraka-bhṛtya-bhṛtya-bhṛtyasya bhṛtyaḥ is not only pleasing poetry, but it is an accurate description of the paramparā: each devotee is serving a previous servant of the Lord.
To consider oneself a servant of all the Vaiṣṇavas and to put their foot-dust on one's head is not demeaning; it is the best way to please the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Kṛṣṇa. Prahlāda Mahārāja told his father that unless one humbly serves the Vaiṣṇavas and "bathes" in the dust of their lotus feet, one can never attain devotional service to Kṛṣṇa.
King Kulaśekhara says that if the Lord grants this prayer it will be the display of His most cherished mercy. But why does he ask to be so many times removed from direct service? Why not ask simply to be the servant of the Lord? One reason is that the Supreme Lord does not accept direct service without service to His servants. As Kṛṣṇa states in the Ādi Purāṇa,
ye me bhakta-janāḥ pārtha na me bhaktāś ca te janāḥ
mad bhaktānāḿ ca ye bhaktās te me bhaktatamāḥ matāḥ
"My dear Pārtha, those who say they are My devotees are not My devotees, but those who claim to be devotees of My devotees are actually My devotees."
The pure devotee's chief aim is to please his worshipable Lord, and a wise Vaiṣṇava knows what will please Him best — becoming the servant, many times removed, of the Lord's bona fide servants. It is because the servants of God are so dear to the Lord that one can please Him best by pleasing them. Śrīla Prabhupāda compared the process to an ordinary person's attempt to please a very great man. Normally an ordinary man cannot even approach the great man, but if by good fortune he is able to please the great man's pet dog, then he can quickly achieve the favor of the celebrated person.
Another reason a devotee wishes to serve through other devotees is that he is naturally humble. He wants to take that place below, rather than push himself forward. He wants to serve all the devotees, or even worship the place where they have walked. The genuine devotee does not rashly presume that he is a member of the inner circle of the Lord's most dear ones. Lord Caitanya has advised us that if we really wish to chant the holy name constantly, we should consider ourselves "lower that the straw in the street, devoid of all sense of false prestige, and ready to offer all respects to others." We should serve not only recognized devotees but all living entities, by giving them Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
Copyright © The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust International, Inc.
His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda, Founder Ācārya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness
Satsvarupa dasa Goswami
Gopiparanadhana dasa Adhikari