Q. When you say that we serve all living things when we serve Krishna.Shouldn’t it be the other way around? I mean when we help someone else aren’t we serving the Lord indirectly?
A. When we water the root of the tree all the leaves and branches are nourished. When we feed our stomach we nourish all of our bodily parts. Do we feed our stomach by sticking our hand in the rice and trying to digest the rice through our skin? No. By taking the rice in our hand and feeding it to the mouth the food goes to the stomach and from the stomach the hand gets its nourishment. Our so-called service to man will always remain imperfect until we make God the absolute center of our life. We will simply render some service to their temporary material bodies without benefiting their eternal spiritual beings even the slightest bit.
In India it is popularly said, “Manav seva, Prabhu seva–Serving man is serving God,” but this is a modern day misconception that is not supported in the Vedic literatures. The real fact, according to the Vedic wisdom is that by serving God we automatically give the best service to all living beings.
Try to understand that we cannot factually help anyone in the real sense unless we are reconnecting them with God. We may provide someone with all material facilities but they will still get sick, get old and die. But if we can awaken their dormant Krishna consciousness, we are eternally and unlimitedly benefiting them. They will become forever free from birth, death, old age and disease.
In the Vedic culture material help is also given but it is always understood to be less important than giving them Krishna consciousness. We give material help and at the same time give them Krishna. Material help gives limited temporary relief. Krishna consciousness gives permanent relief from all forms of suffering.