Service: Permanent and Temporary

Service: Permanent and Temporary

As published in The Harmonist (Sree Sajjanatoshani)
Edited by Paramahamsa Paribrajakacharyya Sri Srimad Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Goswami Maharaj

APRIL 29, 1935

Expressions such as permanent service and temporary service are familiar to most of us, we can easily understand the meaning of temporary service which evidently means service lasting for a time only but as soon as the words 'permanent service' as uttered although we seem to think that we understand what it means, we feel not a little difficulty in finding out what such a thing as permanent service actually is. The expression 'permanent service' would mean service that would continue for all time to come. Coming to the realities of the world, where we have been placed at the present moment we are disillusioned to find that although there is such an expression as permanent service, really speaking we do not find anything like permanent service here. Service requires that there should be one to offer service and another to receive it. So the possibility of permanent service would point to the necessity of the permanent existence of both the offerer and the recipient of such service. Looking to the things around us in this world, we find, however that nothing is permanent. Everything here is born at a particular point of time, remains for a time and is then destroyed. So it would appear at first sight that the term 'permanent' is nothing but a mere word, there is therefore nothing in this world which can be said to be permanent. The term 'permanent service' is thus a misnomer for temporary service only. If there is anything permanent at all, we have no knowledge of it at present.

It is at a time like that this when we are in doubt as to whether there is really anything of the nature of permanent service, that the Revealed Scriptures come to our help and tell us emphatically that although nothing in this mundane plane of the body and mind is permanent, there is the plane of the soul where everything is permanent and it is only there that permanent service is possible. So we read in the Geeta: "Individual souls have no birth. They are eternal. Time cannot destroy them. They are neither born nor do they die. Body is destroyed, but not the soul".

So permanent service is possible only for such an entity as the individual soul is to be a permanent servant, there must also be an object of permanent service of whom the Vedas speak as follows.

Those who see God, Who is the only Eternal Entity in the midst of innumerable eternal beings, can have eternal peace.

So only the services of God, Who is eternal, can be permanent service and all other services are only temporary, however, much we may try to prove it to be otherwise. Service of parents, children, friends, humanity at large, animals, one's own country, in short all services of things on this mundane plane can never be permanent. Those, therefore, who think that they are in permanent service as distinguished from others having temporary service only should know, therefore, that their service is equally of a temporary nature. For do we not find that in the midst of their so-called permanent service they are being snatched away everyday from the scene of their activities? Should we not, therefore, pause to think whether there is anything like real, permanent service? If so, what is the nature of that service and how to have it? As there is such a strong desire in the human heart for such permanent service, it does not stand to reason that there should not be a way to it. So in the Rigveda we get the following mantra:

Suris or servants of God always see the Supreme Lord.

Let us, therefore, try to find out such a true servant of God who can tell us what permanent service is and how to render it.