(Last Updated on : 22/05/2010)
Kaihkarya or offering service to God is an essential religious duty of a devotee of Lord Vishnu
(Vaishnava). It is laid down as an obligatory duty for a Vaishnava because an individual as a Vishnu dasa or subservient being to Vishnu, is morally obliged to render some service or the other to his Lord which pleases Him most. Kaihkarya enhances the value of life and makes it happier too. The performance of religious duties laid down by the sacred texts takes the form of kaihkarya, if these duties are carried out without any selfish motive purely for the pleasure of God (bhagavat priti). In the same way, even social and ethical duties performed in the spirit of niskama karma as advocated by the Bhagavad Gita
, would be regarded as kaihkarya. The concept of kaihkarya is thus an essential part of religious life. The same idea is extended to the role of jiva
in the state of moksha.
In a broad sense, the kaihkarya to be rendered to God by a devotee, whether in the transcendental realm or in the physical world, is basically the same and it serves the same purpose of causing pleasure to God. The only difference lies in the fact that an individual in the state of mukti has a direct intuition of the Paramatman and His glory in all its aspects, whereas in the state of bondage he performs his divine service on the basis of the love towards God developed out of the knowledge derived from the study of the religious texts. In fact some Vaishnava acharyas extoll the kaihkarya done in the physical world to God manifested in the area form as beautiful idols in the temples. The spiritual delight derived from such services is of unique type and often indescribable in words except the experience of inner joy of the devotee similar to the experience of God by the mystics. In view of it the Vaishnava acharyas have expressed a preference to the kaihkarya in this life.
The Vaishnava treatises provide details of the types of Godly services one can perform according to one's capacity. It may range from the highest act of construction of a temple to the simplest job of fetching flowers for the worship of God. One does not come across such details regarding the kaihkarya in the Paramapada by the released souls. Nor is it possible to know these details since the types of services with which we are familiar in the empirical world may not be comparable to those in a transcendental world which is beyond our comprehension. What is relevant from the theological point of view is that whatever act is performed by an individual soul it should conform to the wishes of the Supreme Lord and pleasing to Him. Jiva has no desire of its own. It is totally submissive to the wishes of God and whatever it does even on its own initiative is actually what is prompted by God who is the inner controller of all jivas including the released souls. It is also not obligatory that all souls should engage themselves in the act of divine service. A soul may be contented with the mere vision of God which itself is a kind of divine service. In view of this, the Vedanta Sutra holds the view that the assumption of a body by a jiva is purely optional. It may put on such a body temporarily to perform a particular act of service prompted by Paramatman. It may remain without a body purely as a spiritual monad shining with its knowledge and experiencing the unsurpassable joy arising from the vision of God. This is the theological significance of moksha as divine service.
According to the Vaishnava theology kaihkarya or service in the state of moksha is to be offered to the divine couple (mithuna). That is, the released soul renders its service to Vishnu as associated with Goddess Sri. Ultimate Reality of Vaishnavism is Sriyah pati, Vishnu as integrally related to His consort. Also, the Supreme Deity resides in Vaikuntha, the transcendental realm, along with Sri and other hosts of eternal souls known as nityasuris. In conformity with this doctrine, Vaishnavism
describes the goal of human life as Sriman narayana or Sriyah pati, implying the service to the divine couple.
Such a concept of moksha naturally presupposes the existence of an appropriate spatial realm to enable the God to stay in a particular place and also to give an opportunity for the released souls to render the act of worship or perform meditation. God by His svarupa is infinite (ananta) that is, not conditioned by space or time. He is everywhere. But such a svarupa does not serve the purpose of religious aspirants. It, therefore, becomes a necessity for God for the sake of the devotees to assume a finite form with a divine body and also condition Himself to a limited space.