Hare Krishna Prabhujis and Matajis,
Please accept my humble obeisances. Jai Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudev.
I came across an interesting verse from Srimad Bhagavatam 6.11.24 and a related story for that sloka. During the battle between Indra and Vrtrasura, he offers beautiful prayers to the Lord and in one of the prayers he states, ahaṁ hare tava pādaika-mūla- dāsānudāso bhavitāsmi bhūyaḥ - O Lord Hari, when will I again become the servant of the servant of yours?" In the purport Srila Prabhupada writes, This is the sum and substance of spiritual life. Lord Caitanya also taught this principle of 'gopī-bhartur pāda-kamalayor dāsa-dāsanudāsa'. The great devotee from South India, Kulasekhara Azhwar prays in the same way in his Mukunda-mala stotra. All the great devotees pray for this benediction. There are different conceptions of perfection in spiritual life based on the spiritual process adopted. According to the jñānīs, the highest perfection is realising one's spiritual identity as different from matter. And according to the mystic yogis, perfection is attaining great mystic powers and according to the karma yogis, perfection is attaining heavenly planets and enjoying exalted life. However as per devotees, the perfection is becoming the Lord's servant and when this service attitude attains its complete maturity it transforms into service of the Lord's servants. As a person becomes more and more advanced, he thinks himself unqualified to serve the Lord directly and hence out of his humility he takes shelter of the servants of his servants. But the Lord likes such a servant more than a servant who wants to serve him directly. Desire to serve the Lord is considered as initial stage of devotion and desiring to serve his devotees is considered as a mature stage of devotion.
There is an interesting story in this connection. Once a materialistic person went on a yatra and met a group of impersonalists (jñānīs). He was very inspired by seeing the jñānīs and got detached from material conception of life. He asked them, "What is the perfection in life?" They said, "Giving up material engagements and meditating on the self and realing so'ham asmi (I'm He the atman) is the highest perfection". As he continued on the same tour he met a group of devotees who told him that the highest perfection is to become servant of the Lord. They told him, "Just add 'da' to what you've learnt". So he understood that the perfection is dāso'ham asmi. Then he again went back to the group of impersonalists. They told him, "No, no! the perfection is self realization. Just prefix whatever you've learnt with 'sa'". So he understood perfection is "sadā so'ham asmi"(I'm always He, the atman). And again he went back to the devotees told him that perfection is to realise that, "dāsadāso'ham asmi". And like this he went back and forth between the devotees and the impersonalists. When he was confused as to what might be the real answer, only one thing helped him arrive at a conclusion. It was the complete ecstasy he saw on the face of the devotees, that helped him understand that the highest bliss is in becoming the servant of the servants!
Because of his shuttling back and forth he has been prefixing his conclusion with 'da' and 'sa' continuously and his final conclusion about spiritual life was, "dāsadāsadāso 'ham asmi", meaning, "I am the servant of the servant of the servant" which is the conclusion of the teachings of Bhagavatam and the great Acharyas.
Thank you very much.
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