Three Ways To Understand Vipralambha-Seva

[Chaitanya Mahaprabhu]“Lord Chaitanya taught people in general the method of vipralambha, which is the method of rendering service unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead in the feeling of separation.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 46)

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Shri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is known for inaugurating the sankirtana-movement, which is the congregational chanting of the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Hear this transcendental sound vibration and take in the amazing impact. Produce the sound repeatedly, in the humble plea of asking the Supreme Lord and His energy to be allowed to serve them, in what could be an eternal engagement.

[Chaitanya Mahaprabhu]Mahaprabhu’s instructions and teachings on Vedanta philosophy are unique in that there is the emphasis on vipralambha-seva. This is serving the Divine in a mood of separation. It seems paradoxical on the surface. Intentionally longing for something, wherein the attached state is actually inferior to the state of desire due to separation. A few situations from everyday life may help to give a better understanding.

1. Talking on the phone with a loved one

You see this person every day. You live with them, in fact. They complete what is known as the family. The children may or may not be in the picture, but the association to this specific person is for life; at least those were the vows during the official ceremony of union.

[Sita-Rama marriage]For the past week, however, you have been separated. The only means of contact has been through voice conversation. For some reason, you have an intense longing for their company. It is almost like the distance has allowed you to better connect with them. A certain kind of bliss arises just from the contemplation on the desired meeting.

2. Moving to a new home

Wow! That was a difficult process. Now you know why you instituted that rule a long time ago. You told your friends that if they really valued your friendship, they would never ask you to help them move. One of your friends specifically violated that rule many times, offering a measly pizza pie as compensation.

You got to witness the intensity and complexity of a full move firsthand. The movers did an amazing job, as they were tasked with packing, as well. One mistake you made, however, was not asking for a service to do the unpacking. There is a mountain of boxes in the new home, and no one is really sure where anything is. Some items are more urgently needed, such as bowls and plates, while others can wait a while before being found.

The new surroundings have left you longing for your previous home. You didn’t have such an attachment before, but now suddenly you romanticize the time spent there. You wish you could go back and have that simple and familiar life back. Hopefully, the outlook on the new place will change with time.

3. Hearing a familiar song on the radio

You get sick of listening to the same music day after day. That is why radio stations rely on a rotation. They try to mix things up, while maintaining familiarity at the same time. You hear this one song that you haven’t heard in many years. It immediately takes you back. A previous era of your life, where you lived in a different place, were not yet in the workforce, and enjoyed pursuits that you haven’t indulged since.

Some sayings relay the same concept. “The chase is better than the catch.” “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.” With vipralambha-seva, the attachment and longing is for the most attractive person, Shri Krishna. If He is remembered, then the time has been spent in the best possible way.

Shri Chaitanya and those He inspires present the science to this interaction, which is actually desired by every single living being. It is in the soul’s nature to serve, and in bhakti the individual returns to what they really prefer.

In Closing:

Through maha-mantra song,

For union with Krishna to long.

Actually a feeling superior,

To when in company inferior.

Vipralambha by Chaitanya brought,

Following mood of gopis taught.

In daily life even detected,

Best when with God connected.

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