Humility is the Real Goal of a Sadhana

Srimad Bhagavatam 10.85.32-37 - Humility is the Real Goal of a Sadhana (download mp3)
by Dwarkadhish Prabhu at ISKCON Chowpatty

SB 10.85.32-33
ciran mrta-sutadane
 guruna kila coditau
aninyathuh pitr-sthanad
 gurave guru-daksinam
tatha me kurutam kamam
 yuvam yogesvaresvarau
bhoja-raja-hatan putran
 kamaye drastum ahrtan

It is said that when Your spiritual master ordered You to retrieve his long-dead son, You brought him back from the forefathers’ abode as a token of remuneration for Your guru’s mercy. Please fulfill my desire in the same way, O supreme masters of all yoga masters. Please bring back my sons who were killed by the King of Bhoja, so that I may see them once again.

SB 10.85.34
rsir uvaca
evam saƱcoditau matra
 ramah krsnas ca bharata
sutalam samvivisatur
 yoga-mayam upasritau

The sage Sukadeva said: Thus entreated by Their mother, O Bharata, Balarama and Krsna employed Their mystic Yoga-maya potency and entered the region of Sutala.

SB 10.85.35
tasmin pravistav upalabhya daitya-rad
 visvatma-daivam sutaram tathatmanah
 sadyah samutthaya nanama sanvayah

When the King of the Daityas, Bali Maharaja, noticed the arrival of the two Lords, his heart overflowed with joy, since he knew Them to be the Supreme Soul and worshipable Deity of the entire universe, and especially of himself. He immediately stood up and then bowed down to offer respects, along with his entire entourage.

SB 10.85.36
tayoh samaniya varasanam muda
 nivistayos tatra mahatmanos tayoh
dadhara padav avanijya taj jalam
 sa-vrnda a-brahma punad yad ambu ha

Bali took pleasure in offering Them elevated seats. After They sat down, he washed the feet of the two Supreme Personalities. Then he took that water, which purifies the whole world even up to Lord Brahma, and poured it upon himself and his followers.

SB 10.85.37
samarhayam asa sa tau vibhutibhir
 sva-gotra-vittatma-samarpanena ca

He worshiped Them with all the riches at his disposal — priceless clothing, ornaments, fragrant sandalwood paste, betel nut, lamps, sumptuous food and so on. Thus he offered Them all his family’s wealth, and also his own self.

Bali Maharaja’s devotional attitude is renowned as the perfect example of complete self-surrender. When Lord Visnu in the guise of a young brahmana student approached him for charity, Bali offered all he possessed, and when he had nothing more to offer, he surrendered himself as the Supreme Lord’s eternal servant.

There are nine standard processes of devotional service, and the last, atma-samarpanam, as taught by Bali Daityaraja, is the culmination toward which every endeavor should aim. If one tries to impress the Lord with wealth, power, intelligence and so on but fails to humbly understand oneself to be His servant, one’s so-called devotion is only a presumptuous show.