A while ago I had a discussion on the meaning of freedom. Usually we accept that there’s no freedom in the material world and real freedom comes from surrendering to Krishna. There are arguments regarding free will that still popup from time to time but I’m not going to address those. It’s freedom in full surrender that interests me today.
It’s become widely acknowledged that once we surrender to the Lord and get accepted by Him and His representatives as His devotees, we are free to do whatever we want, free to truly express ourselves. The idea is that we don’t want anything but service to our master and anything we want to do for our master is accepted and encouraged, that once we dedicate ourselves to service all obstacles on our path completely disappear.
This is what we think happens in the spiritual world and it can be replicated here, too, provided our desires are pure enough.
This is what we accept as true freedom – to act in our natural position as Krishnera nitya dasa and be free to express ourselves in a spiritual way.
Generally I agree, but then there’s sankirtana.
The thing about sankirtana is that you are never free to be yourself, you always have to be whatever the Lord wants you to be for His service. If you are great thinker and choose your words slowly and carefully but preaching requires quick, dynamic presentation then this is what you are going to do. Your own nature needs to step behind and be suppressed for the pleasure of the Lord.
If you have brahmanic nature and like to sit and study books but sankirtana requires a lot of walking and carrying stuff then this is what you will happily do because that’s what pleases the Lord. If you are terminally shy but you need to lead the kirtan or start dancing first then this is what you are going to do because that’s what pleases the Lord.
The question of freedom never enters your mind, you act not according to your nature but according to the requirements of sankirtana.
Is there any freedom in that at all? Yes, occasionally sankirtana devotees see Lord Chaitanya helping them in each and every way but this is not what a sankirtana devotees actively seeks or desire. Even if the Lord is ready to provide us with shakti to control our preaching we should not ascribe it to ourselves, we don’t want to see Him as serving our wants, we’d rather see it as us being in sync with the wants of our guru.
Last thing a sankirtana devotee would admit is that He wants the Lord to fulfill his own desires. Sankirtana devotees abhor freedom as a matter of principle. Freedom means independence for them and they don’t want to be independent of the Lord under any circumstances.
It might look like sankirtana devotees hate themselves and need psychological help but this is not it at all – they simply do not have any desires separate and independent from the Lord. They live in perfect unity with guru and Krishna, they do not experience any pain of pleasure themselves, only when Krishna feels it. They experience the world through Krishna’s eyes.
Unlike other devotees they don’t trust their nature as it’s expressed in this world, they don’t trust following what their minds and senses tell them. They don’t actually see their minds and senses as truly theirs, if their bodies want something they don’t see it as their own wants. Maybe up in the spiritual world it will be different but not down here.
Maybe up there they would see their spritual bodies as perfect instruments for Krishna’s enjoyment but down here they sense too much interference from their minds to trust them.
One could say – but you have to purify your own desires, act according to you own nature, Krishna says so in Bhagavad Gita. A sankirtana devotee would ask “What for? For my own advancement? To achieve my own liberation? I’m not interested.” If they distribute books and see the happiness of their guru, their lives are complete. They can’t care less about spiritual advancement and liberation. The Lord is happy, that’s all they want.
Just like gopis who abandoned all religious principles for the pleasure of Krishna, sankirtana devotees do not care if they have to spend millions and millions of lives in the material world because they still don’t act according to their nature. They found a soul ready to hear about Krishna, they told Him about the Lord and planted the seed of devotional service, they pleased guru and Krishna – this is the perfection of life. Their only concern is when can they do it again.
Other devotees might seek freedom and explore every aspect of their nature, their bhava. Sankirtana devotees do not have time for that – there are books to be distributed and people to be invited to serve the Lord. Life can wait, it’s not that important.
There are no more exalted souls than sankirtana devotees not only the three worlds, even in Vrindavana their attitude of absolute selflessness would make them the best Krishna’s servants ever.
This is the mood of rupanugas – promoting service of others and not thinking about your own pleasure at all.
May the dust from the lotus feet of sankirtana devotees touch my head and cleanse my soul from all contamination.