Me First!

Hare Krishna Prabhujis and Matajis,Please accept my humble obeisances! All glories to Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudev!A few years back, our God brother HG Tushta Krishna prabhu offered the following nice story in Granthraj.Once a Brahmana organized a big banquet at his residence to decide the difference between devotees and demons. So he invited all of them for a feast. The demons were an impatient lot, disorganized and noisy. They asked the host that they wanted VIP treatment, and therefore wanted to have their food served first to them and the devotees must eat last. The host agreed to their request on one condition that the demons tie wooden planks to both hands when eating. The demons said that if the same condition was also applied to the devotees as well then they had no objection to this condition. The first course of food arrived. It was the best smelling soup in a bowel with spoon. Now when the demons got spoons filled with the soup, they realized that they could not bend their hands to bring the spoons to their mouths. They tried to lift their hands over their heads and tilt the spoons with their mouths wide open. They got the soup falling in their eyes and all over the face and also on their expensive garments. The demons got noisier, became angry and started swearing at the host and they started fighting among themselves. The demons agreed that it was totally useless for them to remain at this banquet as it was not possible to eat the food without bending their hands and they left the banquet.Now it was the turn for the devotees to eat. They also sat in a line on the floor. Both their hands were also tied with wooden planks. When the first course of food was served, which was the delicious soup, the devotees first recited the food prayer. The devotees realized that they could not bend their hands, and therefore it was impossible to eat the soup. Each of the devotee thought: "Never mind if I cannot eat the soup, but let me be of help to my fellow brother who is seated next to me." The devotees turned towards each other and started feeding each other. They thus enjoyed the most delicious soup. Then the next course of meal was served and they enjoyed that delicious meal. They went through five course meals and ate to their hearts content. They thanked the host, presented the host with gifts they had brought, and peacefully went back to their homes.Brahmana saw that a major difference between the devotees and the demons was the difference in their attitude of 'Giving' and the attitude of 'Taking'. The demons thought only about their individual self-interest whereas the devotees thought about selflessly serving others. We see a similar pastime in Srimad Bhagavatam. In the pastime of the churning of the milk ocean, we see that when Dhanvantari appeared with the jug containing nectar, the demons immediately snatched the jug from Dhanvantari’s hand and began to run away and then they began to fight among themselves. Srimad Bhagavatam describes this fight amongst the demons in verse 8.8.38:mithah kalir abhut teshaam / tad-arthe tarsha-cetasaamaham purvam aham purvam / na tvam na tvam iti prabho"O King, a quarrel then arose among the demons over who would get the nectar first. Each of them said, 'You cannot drink it first. I must drink it first. Me first, not you!'"Here we find that every demon was suspicious of the other demon that if one demon takes the pot, he may drink the whole thing without leaving anything for others. This exhibits the typical mentality of mutual suspicion, untrustworthy nature, disparity and competition prevailing in the material world. It is a rat race to get the best for oneself. Right from the childhood we are trained for this and the "Me first, not you!!" mentality is prevalent everywhere whether we got to buy certain things which are on offer in shopping malls, whether we go to buy a cinema or any show ticket, whether we go to a hospital for treatment, whether we go to a school or college for admission, or whether we go to a ration shop to purchase. This results in total chaos and calamity.But there is another transcendental "Me first" mentality described in Srimad Bhagavatam which results in joy and peace for everyone around. That we can see from the following verse 10.12.6:yadi duram gatah krishno / vana-shobhekshanaaya tamaham purvam aham purvam / iti samsprshya remire"Sometimes Krishna would go to a somewhat distant place to see the beauty of the forest. Then all the other boys would run to accompany Him, each one saying, "I shall be the first to run and touch Krishna! I shall touch Krishna first!" In this way they enjoyed life by repeatedly touching Krishna."Here the cowherd boys wanted to touch Krishna first and they say "aham purvam aham purvam", "Me first" but they do not say "na tvam!" (Not you) and we also see that on this way they enjoyed life by repeatedly touching Krishna. They were also aware that by their touching and playing like this, Krishna derived unlimited pleasure and this Krishna’s pleasure increased their pleasure.In a Room conversation on March 16, 1976 in Mayapur Srila Prabhupada says, "Spiritual platform, every one of us, we are servant of Krishna. So where is the competition between one servant with another? There is.... Even there is competition, the center is Krishna—"Who can serve more?" Therefore that competition is very welcome, because there is no personal interest. Everyone is trying how to serve Krishna more. That is wanted. The competition is there in his real form and perverted form. In the real form Krishna is the center, and the perverted form, I am the center. I compete with you to satisfy my senses more."In his lecture on Nectar of Devotion in 1972, Srila Prabhupada says very wonderfully and in clear terms, "In the material pleasure, if I see you happy, I am unhappy; If I see you unhappy, I become happy. This is nature. I may say otherwise, but material nature is, if one is put into difficulty, then I become very happy, and if I am happy, others become envious. This is material pleasure. Whereas spiritual pleasure means that when one sees Krishna is happy, a devotee is happy, the other devotee becomes happier. That is spiritual pleasure. In the spiritual world there is competition, but when one is advanced, the competitor become happy: "Oh, he's so advanced. I could not do so." There is no enviousness. In the material world, if one is advanced, the other, who is not advanced, he’s envious. This is the difference between spiritual pleasure and material pleasure. It is not difficult to understand. Material pleasure means if you are happy, I become unhappy; if you are unhappy, then I become happy. This is material pleasure. And spiritual pleasure means by seeing your happiness, I become happy. By seeing... But there is no distress in the spiritual world. Simply by seeing the happiness of other devotee, another devotee becomes happier."When we see a devotee performing a nice service, we should feel happy and be inspired to serve Lord nicely.We should be greatly eager (laulyam) to touch Krishna first, by way of chanting the Holy names, touch the Lord by opening Srimad Bhagavatam, Bhagavad gita, touch the deities by nice worship and touch the lives of so many living entities by preaching. This eagerness to touch Krishna first by these things will really please our spiritual master and thus will lead to the perfection of our lives.Thank you very much.Yours in the service of Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudev,Vaijayanti mala devi dasiAbu dhabi.
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