By His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Bhakti, devotional service, does not mean inertness – not simply sitting down or meditating. It is activity, engaging all the senses. Hrisīkena hrisīkeśa-sevanam. Hrisīka means these senses—not these senses, but purified senses. Sarvopādhi-vinirmuktam [Cc. Madhya 19.170]. Just like everyone is using pranair arthair dhiyah vācā. Prana – life; artha – riches, money; dhiya – intelligence; and vācā – speech. Just like for national cause people are engaging life – they are sacrificing their lives. So many Indians, for the attainment of independence in India, gave up their life. Pranaih. So many people gave up everything. During the national movement, Mr. C. R. Das, a great leader of the Congress Party sacrificed everything. He was a very big lawyer, a barrister. He sacrificed his profession, he sacrificed his life—everything. So as we are sacrificing everything for attainment of some so-called national independence, the same thing, if we sacrifice for Krishna, then our life becomes successful. Prānair arthair dhiyā vācā śreya-ācaranam sadā.
So it is not inactivity. Caitanya Mahāprabhu or his followers were not inactive. They were acting. Rūpa Gosvāmī, was so active that he could not sleep at night even for more than one or one half hour. He retired from the material activities. He was a minister. He gave up his job and joined Caitanya Mahāprabhu in old age. He came to Vrindāvana, not to live a retired life, but a very active life.nana-śāstra-vicaranaika-nipunau sad-dharma-samsthapakau lokanam hita-karinau tri-bhuvane manyau saranyakarau radha-krishna-padāravinda-bhajanānandena-mattālikau vande rupa-sanātanau raghu-yugau śrī-jīva-gopālakau [Sad-Goswamy Astakam – verse 2]
So all these six Gosvāmīs, they were not inactive. They were always active. As we are active in karmī life, so bhakti life is also activity. It is not sitting down idly or gossiping. One must find out some job to serve Krishna. That is bhakti life. Hrisīkena hrisīkeśa-sevanam [Cc. Madhya 19.170]. Sevanam means activity. Sevanam does not mean “to sit down idle, inert”. No. Sevā means activity. One has to preach, one has to write, one has to do this, do that, cook and offer the prasādam and so many things.
[The above is an excerpt from a lecture delivered on November 1, 1972 in Vrindavana on the Nectar of Devotion]