By Sri Srimad Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja
This article appeared in issue number 41 of Sri Krishna Kathamrita Bindu, the free fortnightly email magazine from ISKCON Gopal Jiu Publications.
uktas tatha bhavyata eva sadbhih
kintu prabhor yah priya eva tasya
vande guroh sri-caranaravindam
The spiritual master is honored as much as the Supreme Lord because he is the most confidential servitor of the Lord. This is acknowledged in all revealed scriptures and is followed by all authorities. Therefore I offer my respectful obeisances unto the lotus feet of my spiritual master, who is a bona fide representative of Sri Hari. [Srila Viswanath Chakravarti Thakur, Gurv-astaka, verse 7 ]
Sri Guru is saksad-dharitvena, he is as good as Lord Hari. He does not belong to this material world. He belongs to the spiritual world, Krishna’s world. He comes down here out of his causeless mercy, either voluntarily to deliver the fallen souls or when the Lord sends him. Whether he comes here voluntarily or by the will of the Lord, that guru-pada-padma descends here to shower his mercy on the suffering conditioned souls who have been drowning in the dreadful ocean of materialistic existence since time immemorial. That guru-pada-padma descends and stays here in the material world.
Someone may raise the question, “This material world is illusory, mayika jagat. The three modes of material nature are here, sattva, raja, and tama— goodness, passion, and ignorance. If the guru comes and stays in this material world, will he not be affected by those three modes? How can his transcendental nature remain unaffected in this dreadful ocean of material existence? How does he act here?”
This is very easy to understand from the example of the lotus flower. The lotus flower lives in the water, but it is not affected. It remains untouched. Similarly, although Sri Guru comes here to this material world, he remains untouched. He is never affected by the three modes of material nature. Therefore the feet of Sri Guru are compared to a lotus. The bumblebee that comes to the lotus that is in the water and takes shelter inside that lotus is also untouched by the water. Similarly, the fortunate soul who has taken shelter at the lotus feet of Sri Guru will never be afraid of this material world. Just as the bumblebee takes shelter of the lotus and is protected from being touched by the water, so the disciple who takes shelter at the lotus feet of Sri Guru will not be affected by the material nature. This is the lotus feet of Sri Guru.
Another point is there. When the sun rises, the lotus blossoms, and when the sun sets the petals of the lotus close. Similarly, the petals of the guru-pada-padma will open when it sees the intense desire and crying in the heart of the suffering soul to go back to Godhead and get Krishna. This crying for bhakti is like the rising of the sun.
When the sun sets, the petals of the lotus close. Similarly, a disciple who has developed an intense and burning desire in his heart has come to the guru and received shelter. But many times we see that later on, that disciple loses his bhakti-vrtti, his devotional engagement. Because of committing some offense like nama-aparadha or vaisnava-aparadha he loses his bhakti-vrtti. His bhakti becomes shrunken and he does not carry out the orders of the guru or hear the guru’s message. He is avoiding or disobeying his guru. When the sun sets, the petals of the lotus close. Similarly, the guru disappears from the vision of that disciple.
Of course, for one who has made advancement and developed some taste for this transcendental mellow, this is not applicable. It is only applicable to neophytes who have not yet made much advancement and who have not developed any taste for this mellow. If such a devotee commits some aparadha and associates with offenders and materialistic persons, if he does not do real sadhu-sanga, then the sun will never rise. He will disobey the order of the guru and violate his instructions. The guru-pada-padma will disappear from such a disciple who is acting according to his own whims.
This is not applicable for advanced devotees who have developed taste for this transcendental mellow. They cannot leave it because it has become their life and soul. They cannot survive without it. For such a disciple the guru-pada-padma will never disappear. He is always with the guru and the guru is always with him. In all conditions he is engaged in the loving service of guru-pada-padma. He is a nisthapara-bhakta, who has achieved at least the minimum stage of nistha.
For such a very advanced devotee who has developed a taste— meaning he has come to the minimum stage of nistha, or beyond that, like ruci, asakti, or bhava— for him there is no question of disappearance of the guru. He is with guru. The guru never disappears from him. He always sees and realizes the presence of his guru. For that bhakta, the guru is always manifest. The guru will never leave him. But for one who has not achieved the stage of nistha, the apprehension is there that if he commits some aparadha or violates the guru’s instructions, the guru may disappear from his vision. That means the sun will set and the petals of the lotus will close.
Crying Is Required
The sisya or sadhaka should always cry for guru-krpa, the causeless mercy of the guru. Unless you cry for it, you cannot get it. Nobody can get that mercy without crying. For example, when the child cries, the mother runs, thinking, “Oh, my child is crying.” The child cannot be pacified by anything without the mother’s presence. Because she is engaged in performing household duties the mother may give the child a toy or a doll to play with, but the child will throw down that toy or doll and cry and cry. So unless you cry, how can you get that mercy? This crying is required— karuna na hoile, kandiya kandiya, prana na rakhibo ara. Therefore we sing this song. We must cry and cry for the mercy of guru. Unless you cry how can you get it? Those who have cried have received the mercy.
gurudeva! krpa-bindu diya, koro’ ei dase, trnapekha ati hina
sakala-sahane, bolo diya koro nija mane sprha-hina
sakale samman, korite sakati, deho’ natha! Jathajatha
tabe to’ gaibo, harinama-sukhe, aparadha ha’be hata
kabe heno krpa, lobhiya e jana, krtartha hoibe, natha!
sakti-buddhi-hin, ami ati din, koro’ more atma-satha
jogyata-vicare, kichu nahi pai, tomara karuna sara
karuna na hoile, kandiya kandiya, prana na rakhibo ara
Gurudeva! By a drop of your mercy, make this servant of yours more humble than a blade of grass. Give me strength to bear all trials and troubles, and free me from all desires for personal honor.
O lord and master! Invest me with the power to properly honor all living beings. Only then will I sing the holy name in great ecstasy and will all my offenses cease.
O lord and master! When will this person be blessed by obtaining your mercy? I am low, fallen, and devoid of all strength and intelligence. Please make me your beloved servant.
When I examine myself, I find nothing of good value. Your mercy is therefore essential to me. If you are not merciful, I will constantly weep, and I will not maintain my life any longer. [Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur, Saranagati]
This is our prayer. This weeping or crying is required. Unless the child cries the mother will not run and the child cannot get the mother’s breast. Similarly, unless you cry, how can you get the darsana of Sri Guru? When the child cries, the mother runs to him. Similarly, although the guru may be in some other part of the world, when the disciple cries the guru runs there. Sri Guru is karuna-maya, he is causelessly merciful. Thus whether he is manifest or unmanifest he gives darsana to his disciple. He may also come in a dream to give his darsana.
This guru-tattva is nitya-tattva — an eternal transcendental tattva. It is eternally prakata, manifest. It is not aprakata, unmanifest. There is no question of guru-tattva becoming unmanifest. This sri-guru-carana is inconceivable. It cannot be understood through one’s material knowledge, intelligence, or merit.
Sri Guru is a nitya-parikara, an eternal associate of Sri Sri Radha and Krishna. The last limit of guru-tattva is nityananda-tattva. Nityananda Prabhu is gaura-parikara, an eternal associate of Gaura. Similarly, Sri Guru is the eternal associate of both Gaura and Krishna, because in tattva, Gaura and Krishna are one. There is no difference between gaura-tattva and krsna-tattva.
Therefore we say saksad-dharitvena, Sri Guru is as good as Lord Hari. That means that Sri Guru is asraya-tattva, the abode of love. Lord Hari is the only visaya-tattva, the object of love, whereas Sri Guru is asraya-tattva. The guru is called sevaka-bhagavan, the servitor Personality of Godhead, whereas Krishna, Lord Hari, is sevya-bhagavan, the Supreme Personality of Godhead who is to be worshiped. Both are called bhagavan. That is visaya and asraya, the object of worship and the abode of worship. Otherwise, in tattva they are one.
guru krsna-rupa hana sastrera pramane
guru-rupe krsna krpa karena bhakta-gane
According to the deliberate opinion of all revealed scriptures, the spiritual master is nondifferent from Krishna. Lord Krishna in the form of the spiritual master delivers His devotees. [Caitanya Caritamrta Adi 1.45.]
Krishna showers His mercy in the form of guru. Without that mercy, one cannot understand or approach Krishna or go back to Godhead. Krishna appears before us in the form of guru to help us and act as our friend. Showering His causeless mercy through the guru, Krishna delivers us from unlimited suffering in the material world. Krishna is also in the heart in the form of Paramatma, the caitya-guru. From within, Krishna will give us the intelligence to act in the correct way and not make any mistakes or errors. This is the glory of the lotus feet of Sri Guru. It is incomparable and indescribable.
Embodiment of Mercy
Both the siksa-guru and the diksa-guru are representatives of Krishna. Their krpa, mercy, is unlimited. There is no difference between the siksa-guru and the diksa-guru.
yadyapi amara guru–caitanyera dasa
tathapi janiye ami tanhara prakasa
Although I know that my spiritual master is a servitor of Sri Chaitanya, I know him also as a plenary manifestation of the Lord. [Caitanya Caritamrta Adi 1.44]
This is the tattva. Therefore we say that Sri Gurudeva is krsna-krpa-sri-murti— he is the embodiment of krsna-krpa, Krishna’s mercy. If Krishna’s mercy assumes a body and appears before us, that is Sri Guru.
If someone develops guru-bhakti he will get Krishna.
yasya deve para bhaktir
yatha deve tatha gurau
tasyaite kathita hy arthah
Only unto those great souls who have implicit faith in both the Lord and the spiritual master are all the imports of Vedic knowledge automatically revealed. [Svetasvatara Upanisad, 6.23]
One who develops the same type of bhakti for the guru as he develops for Krishna is a very fortunate soul. All transcendental knowledge will be revealed or manifest to him because there is no difference between guru-bhakti and krsna-bhakti. Without guru-bhakti, transcendental knowledge will never manifest. Sri Guru is krsna-priya-jana, a very dear associate of Krishna. He is also radha-priya-sakhi, a very dear girl companion or maidservant of Srimati Radharani, like Rupa Manjari, who is Rupa Goswami.
The mula guru-tattva, the original guru-tattva, is nityananda-tattva, Sri Nityananda Prabhu. By gradually descending, Sri Guru, or nityananda-tattva, has come to us. Nitaichand is both the diksa-guru and the siksa-guru. The caitya-guru is His manifestation. This is guru-tattva. They only differ in their activities or lilas. Therefore we say, sri-guru-carana-padma. It is very significant that the lotus feet of Sri Guru are compared to a lotus.
Body, Words and Mind
Bandon mui savadhana mate— one should offer prayers and worship, vandana, with the utmost care. There are three types of vandana: kaya, vakya, and mana— through our body, words, and mind. With our body we fall flat on the ground and offer our dandavat pranamas to gurudeva— kaya-vandana. Through our words we offer prayers and glorify the guru— vacika-vandana. And through our mind we always meditate on the beautiful and transcendentally blissful lotus feet of the guru— manasika-vandana.
If one has money or some material opulence then he should render service through that money. That is kayika, service through the body. If one has some followers or if he is a family man with a wife, son, daughter, friends, and servants, then with those followers or subordinates he should give everything and render loving service to the lotus feet of the guru. That is also kayika. One should serve with all one’s capacity, which is why it says bandon mui savadhana mate— with the utmost care one should do vandana.
With one’s words one should offer prayers and glorification to the guru. One should also hear from the guru, sravana. Whatever one has heard from the guru, one will speak to others, and in that way others will also hear what he has heard. That is vacika. Pariprasna is also there: If one has some doubts then he should humbly ask questions and get them clarified. These are all types of seva.
In one’s mind, manasika, one should put firm and unflinching faith in the words of the guru. One should understand that the guru has manifested before me in various forms to help me and shower his mercy on me. This is how one serves the guru through one’s mind. That is the meaning of kayika, vacika, and manasika.
One should think, “Guru-krpa is my only asset, nothing else.” Therefore we say bandon mui savadhana mate— I do guru-vandana with the utmost care. Always be careful and never be careless.
Sri Guru tells me that I am an eternal servant of Krishna and thus I should be engaged in His service. But where is Krishna and where am I? How can I serve Him? Is Krishna in the material world? No, Krishna is in the spiritual world, Vaikuntha. That is Krishna’s world. Krishna is the only enjoyer. The jiva can never be the enjoyer. Gurudeva says, “Whatever you find in this world is all paraphernalia for Krishna’s enjoyment, not for your enjoyment.” Krishna’s world is Vaikuntha, where there is an abundance of enjoyment.
Just as we want to be free from the clutches of maya, Bhagavan, the Supreme Lord Krishna, also wants to take us out of maya’s clutches and engage us in His service. Krishna is the only enjoyer and His desire for enjoyment is unlimited. Thus He wants to enjoy by taking everyone into His domain. We are tiny jivas. We have no capacity to enjoy, because the jiva is not the enjoyer. We have only developed this purusa abhimana, the thought that I will enjoy and enjoy. It is only our misconception, because the jiva has no capacity to enjoy. Krishna has unlimited capacity to enjoy in unlimitedly different ways, and the jiva is to be enjoyed, upabhogyam.
Krishna is there in His abode, vaikuntha-rajya, the spiritual world, and we are here in the sakuntha-jagat, the miserable material world. How then can we serve Him? Krishna has made a trick for us, and that trick is Sri Gurudeva. Krishna has sent Sri Gurudeva to this material world to spread here Krishna’s samsara, His household or family. It is Krishna’s desire that His samsara be manifest in this world. All sadhus and mahajanas are gurus, so Krishna has sent them to manifest His samsara. So in this material world gurudeva has opened Krishna’s samsara.
The Supreme Lord has not said, “You go and make your own samsara.” Rather, Krishna has said, “Go there and do My samsara.” So by Krishna’s desire, gurudeva has come here and opened Krishna’s samsara. Krishna is his eternal master, nitya-svami. Gurudeva has completely surrendered and dedicated his life, kaya, mana, vakya— body, mind and words, to Krishna. That is gurudeva.
Those who take shelter at the lotus feet of such a Sri Guru— he takes them and makes them enter into Krishna’s samsara. Gurudeva says, “I am doing Krishna’s samsara, giving everything for the enjoyment of Krishna. You please come and enter into Krishna’s samsara. Then you will be free from the clutches of maya. You will be free from all material sufferings.”
Enter into Krishna’s Family
Gurudeva may construct a cottage in a solitary place and engage himself in bhajana by the side of Radhakund or Syamakund. Why would he leave, especially to go to the Western world where maya is very strong, where there are many gross materialists? He goes because his heart bleeds, seeing the suffering of the jivas. He has given up all these things to give us the opportunity to do hari-bhajana, service to Krishna. He teaches us and gives us the opportunity to serve Krishna. We have forgotten Krishna, so just to revive our memory he has come here. He has opened Krishna’s samsara. He has opened a factory and we have become an employee in that factory. Thereby we will enter into Krishna’s samsara.
Some people may say, “I am doing hari-nama, chanting, ‘hare krsna hare krsna krsna krsna hare hare hare rama hare rama rama rama hare hare.’” You may be chanting, doing hari-bhajana, but unless you enter into Krishna’s samsara what value is there? Unless you enter into Krishna’s samsara there is no value to your chanting. And in order to enter into Krishna’s samsara you have to approach a Sri Guru, a bonafide guru.
At that time gurudeva will call you, “Come, come. Enter into Krishna’s samsara, which I have opened here.” Unless we enter into Krishna’s samsara, we cannot chant. It will only be offensive chanting. You may be chanting lakhs and lakhs of nama, but it will simply be offensive, nama-aparadha. Your anarthas cannot be destroyed. Even if you chant lakhs of names offensively you cannot make any advancement at all. Many people may chant, but what are they getting? By that kind of chanting they may go up to Vaikuntha, but gurudeva has come here to teach that you should enter into guru’s samsara, that is, Krishna’s samsara. You are a servant so you have to render service by entering into the guru-grha. Then you will attain perfection. Otherwise one will never attain perfection.
What do we want from entering into the samsara of the guru? Shall we take everything and not give anything? The guru has given you so much, but unless you serve in the house of the guru there is no benefit. Therefore the guru says, “Come and join, enter into my samsara, that is, Krishna’s samsara. Then all your anarthas will be destroyed.”
So, dedicate your body, mind, and speech, your soul and everything, to the service of Sri Guru. You have come to the house of the guru. That means he has opened a factory and you should be an employee in that factory. Sri Guru will give you employment. Who will give you employment otherwise? Will the government give you employment? No. But the guru will give you employment in the factory that he has opened. That employment is service to Krishna, krsna-seva-yajna. Unless you join that seva-yajna, rendering service in the guru-grha, guru’s asrama, you cannot get the real benefit.
Gaurasundar Mahaprabhu speaks and teaches through Sri Guru. So, dedicating everything, kaya, mana, vakya— one’s body, mind, and speech, one should serve Sri Guru. Then perfection is guaranteed. That is definite, no matter what obstacles or impediments may come. So many obstacles are there. In the material world there is danger at every step. Great stumbling blocks are there, but if you completely surrender through your body, mind, and speech then all impediments and stumbling blocks will be destroyed within a moment. In this very life you will attain perfection. There is no doubt about it. Without the mercy of Sri Guru, without service to Sri Guru, no one can approach Krishna, understand Krishna, or get Krishna. Therefore, everyday we offer this prayer and worship the lotus feet of Sri Guru.
bandon mui savadhana mate