Jñāna literally means “knowledge, wisdom, understanding, or cognition,” and refers to existential knowledge. The Greeks called this revealing power epiginosko (ἐπιγινώσκω). The word yoga means “union.” Thus, jñāna-yoga is a path that aims to realize the essential...
Guru-seva – service to the Guru
Service, or “seva,” to the guru is one of the core principles of Hinduism. Prabhuji Mission, being a traditional Hindu church, practices the millennia-old tradition of guru-seva, or “service to the master.”
Throughout the Śrutis, Smṛtis, and Purāṇas, the disciple’s service to the guru is glorified.
तद्विद्धि प्रणिपातेन परिप्रश्नेन सेवया ।
उपदेक्ष्यन्ति ते ज्ञानं ज्ञानिनस्तत्त्वदर्शिनः ॥ ३४ ॥
tad viddhi praṇipātena
upadekṣyanti te jñānaṃ
“Know that by long prostration, by question, and service, the wise who have realized the Truth will instruct you in (that) knowledge.” (Bhagavad Gita, 4.34)
Kṛṣṇa states in the Bhagavad Gita that the two conditions for being instructed by a master are to inquire from the guru and to serve the guru. Within the path of Sanātana-dharma, service to the guru (guru-seva) is considered one of the most effective means of eliminating our anarthas (constitutional self-identity and other unwanted habits and thoughts). Service to the guru dispels ignorance. By the mercy of the master, Brahma-vidyā, o “wisdom,” is awakened in the heart of the disciple.
Kṛṣṇa confirms to Sridama that other aspects of devotion are unnecessary for disciples who serve their guru with devotion:
नाहमिज्याप्रजातिभ्यां तपसोपशमेन वा ।
तुष्येयं सर्वभूतात्मा गुरुशुश्रूषया यथा ॥ ३४ ॥
“I, the Immanent Self within all living beings, am not as pleased by sacrifices, nor by exalted birth, nor by penances, nor by tranquility of mind, as I am by the service rendered to a guru by his disciple.” (Bhāgavata Purāṇa, 10.80.34)
In his commentary on this verse, Śrīdhara Svāmī writes: “There is no one more worthy of service than a guru who bestows transcendental wisdom. This has already been said. Therefore, there is no greater religious duty (dharma) than to render service unto the guru. The present verse is meant to clarify this point. The word ijyā, or “Vedic sacrifice,” refers to the duties of a householder (gṛhastha–dharma). The word prajātiḥ, “exalted birth,” refers to the elevated birth in which one is initiated into the study of the Vedas by accepting the sacred thread (upanayana). This is a reference to the duties of a celibate disciple (brahmacāri-dharma). Since these two (ijyā and prajāti) appear in a compound, the instrumental case ending applies to both, that is, “by these two” (tābhyām). The word tapasā, “by means of penance,” signifies “by means of the duties of one who has retired to the forest’ (vanastha-dharma), and upaśamena, “by means of tranquility of mind,” signifies “by means of the duties of an ascetic” (yati-dharma). [Kṛṣṇa declares:] “I, Parameśvara, although [impartially] situated as the Supreme Being within all sentient beings, am not so pleased with all these practices as I am with service rendered to one’s guru.”
नष्टप्रायेष्वभद्रेषु नित्यं भागवतसेवया ।
भगवत्युत्तमश्लोके भक्तिर्भवति नैष्ठिकी ॥ १८ ॥
bhaktir bhavati naiṣṭhikī
“By regular attendance in classes on the Bhāgavatam and by rendering of service to the pure devotee, all that is troublesome to the heart is almost completely destroyed, and loving service unto God, who is praised with transcendental songs, is established as an irrevocable fact.” (Bhāgavata Purāṇa, 1.2.18)
God bestows wisdom upon the human being through His aspect of Gurudeva. It is through the instrument of the guru that Kṛṣṇa protects his devotees. Those who live in the grace of the guru are not in Kali yuga, because the master maintains a flow of Satya Yuga in this present iron age. The master’s guidance leads us to transcend saṁsāra.