Real Vaishnavism is something very deep and something sublime, it’s not simply a type of dress or a type of hairstyle, it’s the substance of our consciousness.
What is our character?
Materialism is the consciousness of wanting to exploit, wanting to enjoy. Thinking oneself above another, that is material consciousness.
The consciousness of a Vaishnava is to serve. This body exists not to enjoy, this body exists to serve. The words I speak are not meant not just to talk, what I want to talk, they are meant to serve and glorify Krishna and his devotees. Real renunciation whether one is a sanyasi, vanaprastha, grihastha or a brahmacari is to use our body, mind, words and life in the service of Krishna and in the service of Vaisnavas and in the service of other living beings. But in all cases, our mood should be how to serve, not how to enjoy; how to glorify others, not how to be glorified.
Krishna judges us, the gurus judges us, the great Vaishnavas, they analyze us according to this principle and no other principle.
How are we actually in the spirit of service? We serve Krishna by worshiping and surrendering our lives to him, we worship our guru and the previous acharyas as the representatives of Krishna, surrendering our lives, hearing submissively, trying to carry out their instructions; we serve our equals, our friends, our god-brothers and god-sisters by trying to do everything possible, to make them happy in Krishna Consciousness, to make them satisfied in Krishna Consciousness, to inspire them with faith; and we serve those persons who are either devotees newer than us by trying to encourage them and lift them up and we serve the conditioned souls who are addicted to all kinds of sinful activities by somehow or other trying to connect them to Krishna.
A devotee never thinks that he is better than anyone, even a person addicted to meat eating, illicit sex, intoxication and gambling. We should not think we are better than them, we should consider ourselves more fortunate but not better. We are more fortunate and we should want to serve them by giving that fortune to them. That’s how we serve the condition souls. But a devotee is always is in the spirit of servitude. And *this service attitude is what attracts the heart of Krishna and it is this service attitude that allows us to actually gives pleasure to Krishna when we chant his holy names Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare. Prabhupada said that Vaikuntha Consciousness is “everyone else is prabhu and I am dasadasanudas.”
I remember when I became a member of Srila Prabhupada’s Hare Krishna society, I wrote a letter to my mother and father and signed it ‘Your servant’. They had never seen anyone happy to called himself a servant. They wrote back to me, really disappointed “We gave you the best years of our lives, we gave you an education, we gave you the culmination of all of it and you are just calling yourselves as a servant? What’s wrong with you, what is this movement doing to you? They are demoralizing your sense of self-esteem. You should be proud of yourself.” So, I wrote back to them the next letter and signed it “the servant of the servant of your servant”.
But somehow, they got the understanding. Now, when I talk to them, they say “I am your servant.” So, this is the real spirit of Vaisnavas, to serve and not to enjoy.