Book excerpts Pinnacle of Devotion The Glory Of Sri Guru (Part 1)

The Glory Of Sri Guru (Part 1)

Come with me to Vrndavana, where Srila Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami, the author of Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, wrote his book in the solitary atmosphere of the Radha-Damodara Temple in Seva-kunja. Seva-kunja is one of the places in which the Lord performed His amorous pastimes. The foot-dust of all the gopis is there, Srimati Radhika’s foot-dust is there, and Sri Krsna engaged in the service of Srimati Radhika there.

Sri Krsna also served Srimati Radhika at Vamsivata and Nidhuvana. At these places, Krsna, Radhika, and the gopis are controlled by prema, love personified. Their devotees do not aspire for Krsna, but for krsna-prema, love for Him. Kamsa, Jarasandha, Sisupala, and other demons wanted Krsna, but they did not possess that prema.

kṛṣṇa, guru, bhakta, śakti, avatāra, prakāśa
kṛṣṇa ei chaya-rūpe karena vilāsa

(Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛtaĀdi-līlā 1.32)

Lord Krsna enjoys by manifesting Himself as the spiritual masters, the devotees, the diverse energies, the incarnations, and the plenary portions. They are all six in one.

In this Caitanya-caritamrta verse, Srila Krsnadasa Kaviraja explains that Krsna manifests in this world in six features: as Krsna Himself, as two kinds of guru, as the bhakta (His devotee), as sakti (His energy), as an avatara (His incarnation), and as prakasa (His manifestation). I will explain this very briefly, so that I may complete the discussion of the third and fourth chapters of Sri Caitanya-caritamrta.

The third and fourth chapters describe the purpose for which Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and the acaryas in our disciplic line of spiritual masters (parampara) have come to this world. However, in order to understand this most important subject matter, it is necessary to understand some background information about Krsna’s manifestations.

Srila Krsnadasa Kaviraja begins his description of the Lord’s manifestations by explaining the principle of guru:

mantra-guru āra yata śikṣā-guru-gaṇa
tāṅhāra caraṇa āge kariye vandana

(Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛtaĀdi-līlā 1.35)

I first offer my respectful obeisances unto the lotus feet of my initiating spiritual master and all my instructing spiritual masters.

Mantra-guru means diksa-guru. The siksa-guru teaches us who we are. He teaches the meaning of bhakti (devotional service to the Supreme Lord), the meaning of jiva-tattva (the established truths of the eternal soul), the means by which a conditioned soul can achievebhava-bhakti (spiritual emotions), and then prema-bhakti (pure love of God), the direct service of the eternal soul.

Real bhakti is prema-bhakti, pure loving service to Sri Krsna. In Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu(1.1.1) Srila Rupa Gosvami states:

anyābhilāṣitā-śūnyaṁ jñāna-karmādy-anāvṛtam
ānukūlyena kṛṣṇānu-śīlanaṁ bhaktir-uttamā

Uttama-bhakti, pure devotional service, is the cultivation of activities that are meant exclusively for the pleasure of Sri Krsna. In other words, it is the uninterrupted flow of service to Sri Krsna, performed through all endeavours of the body, mind, and speech, and through the expression of various spiritual sentiments (bhavas). It is not covered by jnana (knowledge aimed at impersonal liberation) and karma (reward-seeking activity), and it is devoid of all desires other than the aspiration to bring happiness to Sri Krsna.

It is the duty of a person desiring bhakti to remember this verse and to repeat it daily. He should try to enter deeply into its meaning and practice to develop its understanding. This practice is called sadhana-bhakti.[1] By practicing sadhana-bhakti with the senses, a spiritual mood manifests. This mood is called bhava-bhakti, and it is this bhava-bhakti which soon blossoms into prema-bhakti. According to a devotee’s level of advancement in bhakti, he or she will be eligible to perform sadhana-bhakti, bhava-bhakti, or prema-bhakti.

A person can be called a sadhaka, one who is performing sadhana-bhakti, only when his practice is aimed at attaining bhava-bhakti and ultimately prema-bhakti.

A guru who is not realized in sadhana-bhakti, bhava-bhakti, and prema-bhakti cannot actually give bhakti, although he may appear to do the work of a guru. This is supported by allsastras, including Srimad-Bhagavatam and the Upanisads, and it is also supported by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and Sri Krsna Himself. We should understand this principle:

tasmād guruṁ prapadyeta
jijñāsuḥ śreya uttamam
śābde pare ca niṣṇātaṁ
brahmaṇy upaśamāśrayam

(Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 11.3.21)

Any person who is seriously desirous of achieving real happiness must seek out a bona fide spiritual master and take shelter of him by initiation. The qualification of a spiritual master is that he must have realized the conclusion of the scriptures by deliberation and arguments, and thus be able to convince others of these conclusions. Such great personalities, who have taken complete shelter of the Supreme Godhead, leaving aside all material considerations, are to be understood as bona fide spiritual masters.

In order to achieve real bhakti to Sri Krsna, to have real happiness, to learn how we can progress in this life, and to realize who we are , it is necessary that we go to a self-realized soul and submissively hear from him. He will surely help us.

There are three symptoms of a bona fide guru, the first of which is sabde. Sabde means that he is perfect in his knowledge of Veda, Upanisads, Srimad-Bhagavatam, etc. However, knowledge of sastra and the ability to give logical arguments based on that knowledge is not enough to qualify one as a guru. If one has no realization of Krsna, if he is not absorbed inbhajana[2], if his bhakti is not very developed, then he is not a guru. The second symptom is that he is detached from worldly desires (upasamasraya).

These first and second symptoms are external. The internal symptom of the bona fideguru is pare ca nisnatam brahmany. The word pare refers to Parabrahman, Sri Krsna Himself, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. A guru should have internal realization of Parabrahman, otherwise he may fall down. Knowledge of sastric arguments devoid of absorbtion in bhajana is not sufficient to save one from falling from the path of bhakti.

A person may know all the arguments that support the sastric viewpoint and he may outwardly engage in some kind of devotional practice; yet, if he is not detached from material desires and objects, he will fall down. If the guru falls, this becomes a great problem for the disciple and disturbs that disciple’s entire life. Therefore, we should exercise caution by approaching for initiation a pure devotee, one who will not fall.

In the above-mentioned verse, Srila Krsnadasa Kaviraja has written mantra-guru ara yata siksa-guru-gana, which indicates both the initiating and instructing spiritual masters. What has Srila Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja written in his translation and purport? Please hear this very carefully. It is very important.

Devotee reads (Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛtaĀdi-līlā 1.35):

Text: I first offer my respectful obeisances at the lotus feet of my initiating spiritual master, and unto all my instructing spiritual masters.

Purport: Srila Jiva Gosvami in his thesis Sri Bhakti-sandarbha (202) has stated that uncontaminated devotional service is the objective of pure Vaisnavas, and that one has to execute such service in the association of other devotees. By associating with devotees of Lord Krsna, one develops a sense of Krsna consciousness and thus becomes inclined towards loving service to the Lord. This is the process of approaching the Supreme Lord by gradual appreciation of devotional service. If one desires unalloyed devotional service, one must associate with devotees.

Let us pay great attention to these words. If we want unalloyed devotional service, we must associate with Vaisnavas. Otherwise, we will be forced to have the association of materialists (asat-sanga); this will be the result.

Let us follow Srila Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja’s line of thought. If we desire unalloyed devotional service to Krsna, then let us boldly follow these directions and instructions. If our preference is making money and we see that this will be hampered by associating with high-class Vaisnavas, we will not be inclined to follow these instructions. However, if we aspire to be like Prahlada Maharaja, then let us try to understand the statements in Srila Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja’s purports.

Please read the last line again, and then continue.

Devotee reads:

If one desires unalloyed devotional service, one must associate with devotees of Sri Krsna. By such association only can a conditioned soul achieve a taste for transcendental love, and thus revive his eternal relationship with God in a specific manifestation and in terms of a specific transcendental mellow or rasa that one has internally inherent in him.

If we follow this instruction to associate with pure devotees, Sri Krsna will manage everything for us. We need not fear. Krsna has created us. He is the Supreme Controller, so why should we have any fear? All problems will be solved by following this instruction. Krsna will manage everything.

If we want unalloyed service to Krsna, then we must have courage. Let us be bold and make an effort to associate with qualified Vaisnavas. In the following verse the importance of such association is stressed, not only once, but three times: sadhu-sanga, again sadhu-sanga, and again sadhu-sanga.

sādhu-saṅga sādhu-saṅga – sarva sastre kaya
lava mātra sādhu saṅga sarva siddhi haya

(Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛtaMadhya-līlā 22.54)

The verdict of all revealed scriptures is that by even a moment’s association with a pure devotee, one can attain all spiritual success.

What is the meaning of this verse? Unalloyed service to Krsna can be attained through sadhu-sanga, and following this directive is our first duty.

Devotee reads (Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛtaAdi-līlā 1.35 Purport):

The secret is that one must submissively listen to those who know perfectly the science of God, and one must begin the mode of service regulated by the preceptor or teacher. A devotee already attracted by the name, form, qualities, etc. of the Supreme Lord may be directed to his specific manner of devotional service. He need not waste time by approaching the Lord through logic.

Krsna consciousness cannot be achieved through the method of mundane logic. If it is the type of logic presented in sastras like Srimad-Bhagavatam or Sri Caitanya-caritamrta and predominated by devotion, then it may be accepted; otherwise not.

Devotee continues reading:

The expert spiritual master knows well how to engage his disciples’ energy in the transcendental loving service of the Lord, and thus he engages a devotee in a specific devotional service according to his special tendency.

We have heard from the disciples of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada that everyone, from small children to superiors, used to think, “My Guru Maharaja loves me so much.” The disciples experience this symptom of a bona fide guru because he does not desire material profit from them. He only wants to reside in their hearts and inject them withkrsna-prema. Unless the guru is perfect in his own realization of krsna-prema, he cannot give such realization.

The bona fide guru never takes the heart of the disciple as his own property. Rather, he makes the disciple’s heart soft, sweet, and fragrant; suitable to be offered to the Divine Couple. The disciple first offers his heart unto the lotus feet of his beloved guru, who in turn gives it to his guru, and so on, until it is placed at the lotus feet of Sri Rupa Manjari, the leader of all the maidservants of Srimati Radhika. Rupa Manjari will then give that devotee’s heart to Lalita and Visakha, who will offer it at the lotus feet of Srimati Radhika. Srimati Radhika will then engage that person in service to Krsna and Herself.

If a guru does not have this symptom, then his disciple may humbly request the guru to allow him to take the association of an elevated soul who does have it. That guru, without envy and admitting that he cannot satisfy his disciple, will direct him to take shelter of Vaisnavas who are of the caliber of Srila Jiva Gosvami, Srila Rupa Gosvami, and Srila Narottama dasa Thakura. He will not complain that the disciple is taking shelter of a superior Vaisnava.

A self-realized guru (sad-guru) never desires worldly gain. If he does, he is not actuallyguru. Syamananda Prabhu was instructed by his diksa-guru, Hrdaya-caitanya of Kuliya-grama, to journey to Seva-kunja, Vrndavana, and take shelter of the lotus feet of Srila Jiva Gosvami. Hrdaya-caitanya told his disciple, “He will make you qualified to serve Sri Sri Radha and Krsna.” Apparently Srila Jiva Gosvami had no initiated disciples, but he gave his instructions to all the inhabitants of this world.

Devotee continues reading:

A devotee must have only one initiating spiritual master, because in the scriptures acceptance of more than one is always forbidden. There is no limit, however, to the number of instructing spiritual masters one may accept. Generally a spiritual master who constantly instructs a disciple in spiritual science becomes his initiating spiritual master later on.

One should always remember that a person who is reluctant to accept a spiritual master and be initiated is sure to be baffled in his endeavor to go back to Godhead. One who is not properly initiated may present himself as a great devotee, but in fact he is sure to encounter many stumbling blocks on his path of progress towards spiritual realization, with the result that he must continue his term of material existence without relief. Such a helpless person is compared to a ship without a rudder, for such a ship can never reach its destination. It is imperative, therefore, that one accepts a spiritual master if he at all desires to gain the favor of the Lord.

If there is no chance to serve him directly, a devotee should serve his spiritual master by remembering his instructions. There is no difference between his instructions and he himself. In his absence, therefore, his words of direction should be the pride of the disciple. If one thinks that he is above consulting anyone, including his spiritual master, he is at once an offender of the Lord. Such an offender can never go back to Godhead.

It is imperative that a serious person accepts a bona fide spiritual master in terms of the sastric injunction. Srila Jiva Gosvami advises that one should not accept a spiritual master in terms of hereditary or customary social and ecclesiastical convention. One should simply try to find a genuinely qualified spiritual master for actual advancement in spiritual understanding.

It is clear that Srila Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja is a pure follower of Srila Jiva Gosvami, but to have such a fully qualified guru is very rare – very rare. If in this life, due to some spiritual piety (sukrti), we have accepted even a kanistha-adhikari-guru, some impressions of Vaisnavism are made on the heart. Then, in our next birth, we may have the qualification to choose a bona fide guru.

How do we choose? We surrender ourselves at the lotus feet of the caitya-guru (Krsna in the heart) and pray to Him. Residing in our heart, He will hear our plea. He will always hear. If one prays, “O Krsna, I sincerely desire to become Your servant. Please direct me to the lotus feet of a qualified guru,” He will surely arrange this. One who neglects such prayer and has confidence in his own ability to select and examine his guru will be disturbed in his spiritual life.

Krsna says in Bhagavad-gita:

sarva-dharmān parityajya
mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja
ahaṁ tvāṁ sarva-pāpebhyo
mokṣayiṣyāmi mā śucaḥ

(Bhagavad-gītā 18.66)

Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reactions. Do not fear.

Krsna will arrange a guru for one who surrenders sincerely and without desire for material gain. In this way such a person easily receives the mercy of that rare guru. Everything depends on Krsna.

Although a bona fide guru is rare in this world, sastra describes that rarer than such aguru is a bona fide disciple who surrenders fully, as Arjuna or Sudama Vipra surrendered to Sri Krsna. The Vedas, Upanisads, and Puranas cite many examples of the ideal guru and the ideal disciple, and the example of Srila Jiva Gosvami and his full surrender to the lotus feet of Srila Rupa and Srila Sanatana Gosvamis is one of the most exalted.

Who is the guru of Srila Sanatana Gosvami and Srila Rupa Gosvami? Srila Rupa Gosvami prayed to Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu in the mangalacarana (auspicious invocation) of each of his books. But when did Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu initiate Srila Rupa and Srila Sanatana? Have we heard of a fire sacrifice being performed for their initiation, and mantras being given to them?

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu instilled everything in their heart; they accepted him as guruwithin their heart. It is most important to follow gurudeva internally and externally. If our heart is given very naturally at a Vaisnava’s lotus feet, this means he is our guru, regardless of whether or not mantras are given or a fire yajna is performed. These are external and not as important as the surrendering of one’s heart.

There are two kinds of disciples, and therefore there are two kinds of diksa (initiation):anusthaniki and vidvat-rudhi. Anusthaniki-diksa is the external formality of a fire yajna and the giving of diksa (gayatri) mantras. If one thinks, “I have sacrificed so much. My head is shaven and I have received my mantras. I am now initiated,” this may be only external. Of course, formal initiation is essential, but it is not complete without vidvat-rudhi.

Vidvat-rudhi refers to an internal initiation wherein the disciple completely gives his heart at his guru’s lotus feet. He knows that his guru will make him qualified to serve Sri Sri Radha and Krsna. Gurudeva gives all kinds of transcendental knowledge (divya-jnana) about krsna-tattva, guru-tattva, vaisnava-tattva, and prema-tattva.[3]

The guru teaches us what maya is. He teaches that under the spell of the illusory energy maya, one sees a man or woman as a source of one’s own sense gratification. Such consciousness has created many problems between husband and wife, especially in western countries.

People are sometimes married and divorced several times, and there is no concern for the children. Marriage means that both remain together for life; small problems should not cause divorce. The guru will teach his followers to be neither attached nor detached, but to perform their duty, and in this way see themselves, their wives, and their children as Krsna’s servants. He will teach them their duty in such a way that they develop their Krsna consciousness.

The guru instructs us how to practice bhakti – how to develop our honor, affection, and service for Krsna – through divya-jnana, transcendental knowledge. He also destroys all our sinful reactions:

divyaṁ jñānaṁ yato dadyāt
kuryāt pāpasya saṅkṣayam
tasmād dīkṣeti sā proktā
deśikais tattva-kovidaiḥ

(Bhakti-sandarbha 283)

By diksa, one gradually becomes disinterested in material enjoyment and gradually becomes interested in spiritual life.

In this verse, ‘material enjoyment’ refers to all the problems arising from attachment to worldly affairs. In material life one is full of lust, anger, greed, madness, illusion, and envy. He thinks himself to be the enjoyer.

Gurudeva destroys the four stages of sin: (1) prarabdha – fructified karma, the reactions to previous actions which are presently being suffered and enjoyed; (2) aprarabdha – those reactions which will fructify in our next body; (3) kuta and bija – sins which have not yet been performed, but the tendency to perform them is dormant in the heart; (4) avidya – the ignorance whereby one forgets Krsna and thinks himself to be the enjoyer. From this, all problems arise.

If our diksa-guru is not of a high caliber and is thus incapable of extricating us from these reactions, then we must accept a siksa-guru who is more advanced. We will pray to Krsna and gurudeva to help us solve our difficulties in this connection.

Our guru will then advise us to seek shelter of advanced Vaisnavas who are of the caliber of Srila Rupa Gosvami, Srila Jiva Gosvami, and Srila Narottama dasa Thakura. If the guru is showing jealousy or envy that his disciples are associating with such a siksa-guru, or if he is opposed to Vaisnavas and their teachings, the disciple should consider giving up that false guru.

śrī rūpa sanātana bhaṭṭa raghunātha
śrī jīva gopāla bhaṭṭa dāsa raghunātha

ei chaya guru – śikṣā-guru ya āmāra
tāṅ sabāra pāda-padme koṭi namaskāra

(Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛtaĀdi-līlā 1.36-37)

The instructing spiritual masters are Srila Rupa Gosvami, Srila Sanatana Gosvami, Srila Bhatta Raghunatha, Srila Jiva Gosvami, Srila Gopala Bhatta Gosvami, and Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami. These six are my instructing spiritual masters, and therefore I offer millions of respectful obeisances unto their lotus feet.

In this section of Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Srila Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami first prays to his siksa-gurus, and then explains many truths about guru. Who are his siksa-gurus? Srila Rupa Gosvami, Srila Sanatana Gosvami, Srila Jiva Gosvami, Srila Gopala Bhatta Gosvami, Srila Raghunatha Bhatta Gosvami, and Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami.

In this connection there is a very important point to consider. Srila Krsnadasa Kaviraja has not mentioned the name of his diksa-guru. He took siksa directly from both Srila Rupa Gosvami and Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami, and at the end of each chapter he offers his obeisances to them.

Some say that his diksa-guru is Srila Raghunatha Bhatta Gosvami, but I have not seen evidence of this. I have never read in any sastras about the identity of his diksa-guru. Both he and his brother took diksa during their household life, before he finally left his family and went to Vrndavana. Without diksa, he would not have received the name Krsnadasa.

For some reason he has not revealed the name of his diksa-guru, but has only named the six Gosvami associates of Mahaprabhu as his siksa-gurus. In their forms in Vraja-lila, Srila Rupa Gosvami is Rupa Manjari, Srila Sanatana Gosvami is Labanga Manjari, Srila Raghunatha Bhatta is Raga Manjari, Srila Jiva Gosvami is Vilasa Manjari, Srila Gopala Bhatta is Guna Manjari, and Srila Raghunatha dasa is Rati Manjari. They each have two eternal forms, one as an associate of Krsna and the other as an associate of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.

If anyone has proper association with a bona fide siksa-guru, he will surely become a bona fide disciple. Srila Krsnadasa Kaviraja is proud to be a disciple of the Six Gosvamis. He writes,“tan’ sabara pada-padme koti namaskara.” He offers innumerable obeisances at their lotus feet, after which he prays to bhaktas (devotees) like Srivasa Pandita, who in Krsna’s pastimes is in the form of Narada Muni.

bhagavānera bhakta yate śrīvāsādi pradhāna
tāṅ sabāra pāda-padme sahasra praṇāma

(Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛtaĀdi-līlā 1.38)

There are innumerable devotees of the Lord, of whom Srivasa Thakura is the foremost. I offer my respectful obeisances thousands of times unto their lotus feet.

There are two kinds of bhaktas, namely the realized soul and the sadhaka. In his former life, Narada was a sadhaka-bhakta, and then he became a realized bhakta, a premi-bhakta. In this verse, Srila Krsnadasa Kaviraja is referring to all self-realized bhaktas: Sri Svarupa Damodara, Sri Raya Ramananda, Sikhi Mahiti, Madhavi-devi, Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya, etc. There are six prominent siksa-gurus (the Six Gosvamis), and they are all realized bhaktas as well.

We have mentioned Krsna’s manifestations as the guru and the bhakta, and He also expands in three other ways: Sri Advaita Acarya is the plenary incarnation of Maha-Visnu and Sri Nityananda Prabhu is svarupa prakasa (an eternal, personal manifestation of Krsna). Sri Gadadhara Pandita (who is Srimati Radhika) and Sri Jagadananda Pandita (who is Radhika’s maidservant) are sakti (Krsna’s transcendental potency).

To be continued…

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