evam janam nipatitam prabhavahi-kupe
kamabhikamam anu yah prapatan prasangat
krtvatmasat surarsina bhagavan grhitah
so ’ham katham nu visrje tava bhrtya-sevam
evam—thus; janam—people in general; nipatitam—fallen; prabhava—of material existence; ahi-kupe—in a blind well full of snakes; kama-abhikamam—desiring the sense objects; anu—following; yah—the person who; prapatan—falling down (in this condition); prasangat—because of bad association or increased association with material desires; krtva atmasat—causing me (to acquire spiritual qualities like himself, Sri Narada); sura-rsina—by the great saintly person (Narada); bhagavan—O my Lord; grhitah—accepted; sah—that person; aham—I; katham—how; nu—indeed; visrje—can give up; tava—Your; bhrtya-sevam—the service of Your pure devotee.
My dear Lord, O Supreme Personality of Godhead, because of my association with material desires, one after another, I was gradually falling into a blind well full of snakes, following the general populace. But Your servant Narada Muni kindly accepted me as his disciple and instructed me how to achieve this transcendental position. Therefore, my first duty is to serve him. How could I leave his service?
As will be seen in later verses, even though Prahlada Maharaja was directly offered all the benedictions he might have desired, he refused to accept such offerings from the Supreme Personality of Godhead. On the contrary, he asked the Lord to engage him in the service of His servant Narada Muni. This is the symptom of a pure devotee. One should serve the spiritual master first. It is not that one should bypass the spiritual master and desire to serve the Supreme Lord. This is not the principle for a Vaisnava. Narottama dasa Thakura says:
One should not be anxious to offer direct service to the Lord. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu advised that one become a servant of the servant of the servant of the Lord (gopi-bhartuh pada-kamalayor dasa-dasanudasah). This is the process for approaching the Supreme Lord. The first service should be rendered to the spiritual master so that by his mercy one can approach the Supreme Personality of Godhead to render service. While teaching Rupa Gosvami, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu said, guru-krsna-prasade paya bhakti-lata-bija: one can achieve the seed of devotional service by the mercy of the guru, the spiritual master, and then by the mercy of Krsna. This is the secret of success. First one should try to please the spiritual master, and then one should attempt to please the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura also says, yasya prasadad bhagavat-prasado . One should not attempt to please the Supreme Personality of Godhead by concoction. One must first be prepared to serve the spiritual master, and when one is qualified he is automatically offered the platform of direct service to the Lord. Therefore Prahlada Maharaja proposed that he engage in the service of Narada Muni. He never proposed that he engage directly in the service of the Lord. This is the right conclusion. Therefore he said, so ’ham katham nu visrje tava bhrtya-sevam: “How can I give up the service of my spiritual master, who has favored me in such a way that I am now able to see You face to face?” Prahlada Maharaja prayed to the Lord that he might continue to engage in the service of his spiritual master, Narada Muni.
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