vando mui sāvadhāna mate
jāhāra prasāde bhāi, e bhava tariyā jāi
kṛṣṇa-prāpti haya jāhā hate
Sri Prema-bhakti-candrikā, Chapter 1, Text 1
The lotus feet of Śrī Guru are the abode of kevala-bhakti for Kṛṣṇa. I very carefully worship and bow down to those lotus feet. My dear brother! It is by the mercy of Gurudeva that we cross over this material existence and obtain Kṛṣṇa.
Śrī Guru-caraṇa-padma. A lotus is very cooling. The living entities are burning; they are always suffering. Gurudeva’s lotus feet cool the living entities. Take shelter of Śrī Guru. Bumblebees are said to be very hard and cruel. It is said that they can cut dry wood and even stone with their teeth. But coming to a lotus, attracted to its smell, and tasting its honey, the bumblebee forgets everything—his family, cruel nature, and the whole world. He lies in the lotus flower and falls asleep. While sleeping, the day passed and the lotus enclosed him at night. The bumblebee did not wake and cut his way out. He very peacefully slept, having become intoxicated by the lotus’ honey. When the morning came and the lotus blossomed, the bumblebee woke and looked around, unaware of where he was.
Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura said, “If anyone comes to the lotus feet of Śrī Guru, from anywhere in the world, they will be cooled and will feel good. They will forget their mundane relationships, attachments, sense enjoyment, and other worldly activities. They will forget everything and be happy, not knowing what their next duty or service is. But by the spiritual influence of Śrī Guru, they will automatically serve.
What does Śrīla Gurudeva do? When someone comes to Śrī Guru, he immediately offers that person to Nityānanda Prabhu. The Pañca-tattva help and in turn offer him in the service of Kṛṣṇa. Only by the mercy of Guru-pāda-padma and the Vaiṣṇavas can you attain Śrī Navadvīpa-dhāma and the lotus feet of the Pañca-tattva: Mahāprabhu, Nityānanda Prabhu, Advaita Ācārya, Gadādhara Paṇḍita, and Śrīvāsa Paṇḍita. What fortune! After millions of lives wandering in material existence, by great fortune the jīvas come to the holy dhāma. Māyā-devī cheats and gives opulence, and people run here and there to enjoy in recreational centers. Without sukṛti, causeless mercy, and an invitation, Yogamāyā-devī will never give you entrance into the holy dhāma. Many people have wealth and health, but they don’t come to the holy dhāma. It is not possible for them. When you are in Navadvīpa-dhāma, which is the svarūpa of Nityānanda Prabhu, how can you make a relationship with God’s family and not run back to any other place? For this, you should perform parikramā.
Parikramā means pari-bhramati, an inquiry. We perform pari-bhramati. We should go everywhere and search, “Who will take care of me? Who is my guardian and wellwisher? Who will think about my welfare?”
Previously, the Gosvāmīs would perform bhajana, and if anyone had a deep desire for bhajana, they could come and reside nearby them. Our Guru-varga then considered, “This is not appropriate for everyone. A center that will be an extension of Vṛndāvana-dhāma will have to be opened. Anyone who comes to this center will be taken care of nicely. They will be cared for, fed, and showered with bhakti-rasa. They will be engaged in all limbs of bhakti and taught everything. Then they will become qualified and attain a close relationship with God.”
In this world there are no training centers of Vṛndāvana. All take dīkṣa and harināma and go to live in a house but there is only māyā. Our Guru-varga give instructions for the protection and wellbeing of the jīvas. Affection is needed to attract the jīvas out of Māyā-devīs world to Goloka Vṛndavana. For this, a reserved training center is necessary. There, special training and bhakti will be given and its tutors will be spiritual masters called from that world. They come to this world only to teach sādhakas their svarūpa-gata-sevā, the inherent service of their soul. Without help the conditioned souls cannot understand their dikṣa-mantras and they have a tendency to always be in bad association. They don’t have the strength to remove their own anarthas. Who gives this help? This spiritual helper is called Śrī Guru-pada-padma.
These centers are known by different names. Gauḍīya means ‘those of Gauḍa-deśa’, Mahāprabhu’s place or Gaurī’s place. Who is this Gaurī? Śrīmatī Rādhārānī’s name is Gaurī. Gauḍīyas are the followers of Gaurī, golden Śrīmatī Rādhārānī. These centers are the place where aspirants train with a hope to attain the eternal service of Śrīmatī Rādhārānī and Kṛṣṇa. The followers of Śrīmatī Rādhārānī and the Vraja-devīs are cared for in these centers. There is a nursing system for those who are materially diseased, and by steadily taking the medicine available in these centers, one is assured to be cured of bhāva-roga, the disease of material existence. Since millions of lives, this disease has been afflicting the living entities. The treatment administered in these centers is delivered by Śrī Guru.
punar api jananam, punar api maraṇaṁ
punarapi jananī jaṭhare śayanam
Again birth, again death, again lying in the womb of a mother.
By their own efforts, without mercy and help, the living entities cannot achieve salvation from this miserable cycle of birth and death.
Our ācāryas have established daivi-varṇāśrama knowing it to be the desire of the Lord. They have performed sannyāsa-līlā.
Sannyāsa means to renounce everything to achieve the mercy of the Vraja-devīs. Only saying sarva-dharmān-parityajya is not enough. Only theory is not enough. You first must give up everything, offering all your love and affection for Kṛṣṇa. If you have attraction for this world, it will not be possible to do this. The Vraja-devīs stayed with their families, with their relatives, but they had no relation with them; their relationship was only with Kṛṣṇa. Therefore they could give up everything to meet with Kṛṣṇa.
ativilaṅghya te ‘nty acyutāgatāḥ
kitava yoṣitaḥ kas tyajen niśi
Dear Acyuta, You know very well why we have come here in the middle of the night. Who but a fraud like You would give up the association of young women who come to see Him at this hour, mesmerized by the loud song of His flute? Just to meet You, we have completely left our husbands, children, ancestors, brothers, and other relatives.
They renounced everything and are therefore real sannyāsīs. Caitanya Mahāprabhu started this movement of delivering the jīvas by taking sannyāsa, following in the footsteps of the Vraja-devīs. Ācāryas gave up everything and entered their guru’s āśrama. Without sannyāsa one cannot serve Śrīmatī Rādhārānī. They began daivi-varṇāśrama, giving the living entities a transcendental process, siddha-praṇālī, to serve Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa as the mañjarīs do. They come to distribute the divine vraja-rasa. Our Guru-varga take from the store of Nityānanda Prabhu and distribute this vraja-rasa to all those who come to them. They give harināma and dīkṣā, brāhmaṇa-dīkṣā and vaiṣṇavī-dīkṣā. As Mahāprabhu changed everyone with nāma permeated with prema, they also give nāma with prema so that people do not run for others’ names and love. Our Guru-varga give the living entities divya-siddha-praṇālī, telling them, “You are Kṛṣṇa’s servants, not the slaves of māyā. From today, you will begin serving Kṛṣṇa.”
The living entities then forget their habits, practice, and nature from millions of lives and start the process of sādhana. After sometime, they take sannyāsa, renouncing everything in this world. The soul has a unique mood to serve God. This naturally develops by performing sādhana in the shelter of our ācāryas. This is the rāgānugā-bhajana-paddhati. The sādhana-praṇāli of vaidhī-bhakti is not so helpful.
Our Guru-varga give this siddha-praṇālī, explaining that bhakti is the tendency of svarūpa-śakti, hlādini-śakti. If this śakti doesn’t come, then desire for bhakti will not come. This line has come down from Lokanātha Dāsa Gosvāmī and Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura. This śakti will be transmitted by a bona fide spiritual master, Śrī Guru. It will not come from any ordinary person. If anyone less qualified says, “I will give you dīkṣā and then your bad habits will go away. You will change and follow bhakti,” he will not be able to do so. The essence of svarūpa-śakti is present with Śrī Guru. He gives this to the sādhaka at the time of dīkṣā.
dīkṣā-kāle bhakta kare ātma-samarpaṇa
sei-kāle kṛṣṇa tāre kare ātma-sama
sei deha kare tāra cid-ānanda-maya
aprākṛta-dehe tāṅra caraṇa bhajaya
Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Antya-līlā 4.192–193
At the time of dīkṣā, when a bhakta fully surrenders, Kṛṣṇa accepts him to be as good as Himself. When the devotee’s body is thus transformed into spiritual existence, the devotee, in that transcendental body, renders service to the lotus feet of the Lord.
Kṛṣṇa-bhajana is not so easy. If the power of svarūpa-śakti doesn’t come, then kṛṣṇa-bhajana is not possible, even if he is empowered by the potency of Mahāmāyā, like Durgā and Kālī. What bhajana will one perform? One will worship one’s family, children, partner, body, and mind. By getting blessings or potency from any source in this material world, one will be able to serve objects and illusory relationships of this world; however, one will not be able to cross this world and enter Vraja, where one will serve Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa.
Through the medium of Śrī Guru, svarūpa-śakti bestows three tattvas unto the sādhaka: sandhinī, saṁvit, and hladini. Sandhinī means pure existence. From morning to evening, one will not forget or give up kṛṣṇa-bhajana. One will have great power and desire to serve God’s Deities. One will naturally engage in the sixty-four limbs of bhakti as described by Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī Prabhu in Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu, with nāma-saṅkīrtana being the foremost limb.
From maṅgala-āratī one will begin, and throughout the day until śayana-āratī one will be engaged in God’s service. One will never be tired, hopeless, sick, weak, or disturbed. This will be tasteful and easy. First comes sandhinī-sattā, pure existence. Mundane existence, jaḍa-sattā, bewilders the living entities. It is necessary to cross the illusory potency of this world, jaḍa-māyā. By getting brahma-śakti, we may transcend māyā but sometimes we may come back down. However, when cit-śakti (bhāgavata-śakti, or sandhinī-śakti) comes to the jīvas, they will never change back into the slaves of illusion. They will be very strong. This is given by Śrī Guru. He has this potency.
Therefore, in this Prema-bhakti-candrikā, we first pray to Śrī Guru—śrī guru-caraṇa-padma, kevala bhakati-sadma.
Sadma means āśraya, shelter and surrender. A mood of surrender will never come to jīvas with an independent-doer mood. Sometimes they think of collecting money for their own selfishness, and with this intention, they pretend to surrender to others to achieve their ends. This is not permanent or surrender in truth. Only when the jīvas come to sad-guru, a bona fide spiritual master, can they surrender in reality. Why? Ajñāna-timirandhasya, the jīvas are blinded by illusion and have no knowledge of reality when they are in ignorance. Spiritual knowledge comes by the mercy of Śrī Guru. By this, the jīva can understand what is right and wrong, and will cross illusion. Then he will come to Śrī Guru in truth. Guru-pāda-padma then gives the tendency of hladhini-śakti, or bhakti, and one will be active, very strong, and beyond the influence of māyā.
Having crossed māyā, he can help others. He will do saṅkīrtana. While singing, his mind will not be restless. He will not look here and there or think of māyā. He will sing directly for Kṛṣṇa’s happiness. Where will he go? He will remember and take shelter of Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura, Locana dāsa Ṭhākura, Vasu Ghoṣa, Govinda Ghoṣa, Vidyāpati, Caṇḍīdāsa, Jayadeva Gosvāmī, Rūpa Gosvāmī, Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī, and our other ācāryas and will sing their prayers—svarūpa-śakti’s power is present in all of these.
As the sun rises, the heat and light of the sun is felt by all under its benevolent rays; however, if blocked by thick clouds, the sun’s heat and light cannot be experienced. These clouds are the covering of māyā. By going to sad-guru and taking his shelter, his power of svarūpa-śakti cuts through māyā and reveals the spiritual abode. Guru-pāda-padma has this power reserved.
gurur brahmā gurur viṣṇur guru devo maheśvaraḥ
guruḥ sākṣāt paraṁ brahma tasmai śrī-gurave namaḥ
The spiritual master is like Brahmā, Viṣṇu, and Śiva. The spiritual master is like Bhagavān. I offer him my respectful obeisances.
If anyone comes to Śrī Guru, he first prays to Brahmā. He has a relation with Brahmā, who gives the jīvas strength, cit-bala, and knowledge of śāstra, helping them in all respects.
Guru is Viṣṇu. How can the jīvas be maintained in the line of bhakti? Śrī Guru helps in this way, therefore he is Viṣṇu.
Guru is also like Śiva Ṭhākura. The living entities suffer from anarthas. Śrī Guru destroys all anarthas. He protects his followers and allows them to continue bhajana. Guru sākṣāt parabrahma. He helps his disciples make a relationship with Parabrahma, the Supreme Lord, and to serve Him continuously. Kṛṣṇa Himself said in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (11.17.27), “Ācāryaṁ māṁ vijānīyān—guru is not ordinary. He is as good as Myself.”
By coming to Śrī Guru, the devotee is sent to the lotus feet of God, not to any karmī, jñānī, or yogī. This is Śrī Guru’s specialty. When cit-vṛtti (spiritual strength and tendency)awakens, one will be active and always perform bhakti. Any jīva who comes to Śrī Guru will develop deep faith and love. They will not be able to go far away from Guru-pāda-padma. Relationship with Śrī Guru is eternal.
How does one understand whether or not one has come to sad-guru? Many people ask, “Who is a sad-guru now? How can we understand? Who should we take shelter of?”
āṅhāra darśane mukhe āise kṛṣṇa-nāma
tāṅhāre jāniha tumi ‘vaiṣṇava-pradhāna’
Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 16.74
One who inspires within the heart others to chant kṛṣṇa-nāma merely by becoming visible, is vaiṣṇava-tama (possessed of Vaiṣṇava qualities to the highest degree). He is the topmost Vaiṣṇava.
If you come to a guru, but no desire arises for chanting kṛṣṇa-nāma and following the nine limbs of bhakti, and your material nature does not change, understand you have come to a bogus person; or you may have come to Śrī Guru but have not taken his shelter and have no faith in him. You have not surrendered. This is on one side. On the other hand, Śrī Guru has transcendental power—saṅkarṣaṇa śakti, the power of attraction. He attracts conditioned souls and changes their natures, bestowing pure love.
Śrī Guru gives saccidānanda-vṛtti, pure existence, knowledge, bliss, and the tendency, taste, and energy to eternally serve God. This is the symptom of Śrī Guru.
By Śrī Guru’s mercy, one becomes bhajana-nipuna, expert in bhajana. One will be very greedy and anxious to find where one can hear hari-kathā, how one can perform nāma-saṅkīrtana and use all of one’s senses in God’s service—just like a first-class student who always thinks how he can be a perfect student, getting one hundred percent marks in all his tests. One will not waste a single moment and will never be disturbed.
mana sthira kori’, nirjjane bosiyā, kṛṣṇa-nāma gā’bo yabe
saṁsāra-phukāra, kāṇe nā paśibe, deha-roga dūre ra’be
Kabe-tava-karuṇa-prakaśe, Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura
When, by fixing my mind and sitting in a solitary place, will I sing Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s holy names? Mundane subjects will not enter the holes of my ears, and diseases will stay far away. Any disturbance of this world—adyatmika, ādibhautika, ādidaivika—will not trouble one or interrupt one’s bhajana.
Prema-bhakti has so much power. Don’t think that bhakti is powerless, not helpful, or that it doesn’t work. If you are present with Śrī Guru, chanting harināma and offering respect to Guru-pāda-padma, this is very powerful. You have come to the power of svarūpa-śakti and Her expansion—how will you then be hopeless? This is impossible. This power is very great and also very sweet.
Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura gave this Prema-bhakti-candrikā, explaining the confidential secrets of prema-bhakti to the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava sādhakas. All the potency of his Gurudeva, Śrīla Lokanātha dāsa Gosvāmī, is present with Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura. Śrī Guru bestows all his divine wealth upon his qualified disciples, just like a cow who eats many things and saves all her milk for her calves.
Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī said, “Narottama, go to Lokanātha dāsa Gosvāmī.” He went, pleased his Guru-pāda-padma, and received prema-bhakti from him. He was then instructed to distribute this to all, and many brāhmaṇas as well as people from other castes and religions came to him.
Once, a smārta named Kṛṣṇa Candra Rāya sent many smārta brāhmaṇas to defeat Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura and destroy Vaiṣṇavism. They came but were defeated by Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura’s disciples and ran far away. Kṛṣṇa Candra Rāya endeavored again and again to conquer over Narottama’s influence, worshipping Kālī with many entreaties. The goddess finally appeared before him and said, “I will destroy you! Who will protect you? Don’t disturb Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura! Go and take dīkṣā from him.” He thus came to Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura and took shelter of him, understanding his mistake. If anyone is against Guru and Vaiṣṇavas, he will not be protected by māyā, any śakti, or even God Himself.
Therefore, in Prema-bhakti-candrikā Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura first explains the glories of Śrī Guru-pāda-padma. Prema-bhakti can only come by Guru-pāda-padma’s causeless mercy.
Don’t go here and there. Take sole shelter of Guru-pāda-padma’s lotus feet.
Śrī Guru—what are his qualities? The first thing said is ‘śrī.’ Śrī means Kṛṣṇa’s svarūpa-śakti. Śrī is Kṛṣṇa’s beauty. Śrī Guru has all knowledge of Kṛṣṇa’s śrī : His nāma, rūpa, guṇa, līlā, and also His veṇu-mādhurī, rūpa-mādhurī, guṇa-mādhurī, and līlā-mādhurī. Therefore he is Śrī Guru.
guru vaiṣṇava bhagavān tinera smaraṇa
tinera smaraṇe haya vighna-vināśana
anāyāse haya nija vāñchita pūraṇa
Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Ādi-līlā 1.20–21
I meditate on Śrī Guru, the Vaiṣṇavas, and Bhagavān. By remembering them, all obstacles are removed and one quickly fulfils all desires.
By taking shelter of Śrī Guru, you will automatically remember the Vaiṣṇavas and desire to serve God. All mundane disturbances will be destroyed.
Guru-pāda-padma gives transcendental knowledge, mitigating any misunderstandings or false knowledge that were previously keeping one in ignorance.
The guru will tell the true disciple, “You are very qualified. You have so much knowledge. You are a great thinker and have such a great personality. You have no place or room, because your heart is already full with these qualifications. How can I give you anything?”
The real disciple will think, “Before, no one gave me such an operation, opening my eyes with his words of truth. I have so much mundane knowledge. Gurudeva told me, ‘You have no room, how can I give you anything?’ ” This is Guru-pāda-padma’s mercy. Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura therefore begins his Prema-bhakti-candrikā with a prayer to Śrī Guru, śrī guru caraṇa padma.
Śrī means Śrī Guru has prema-sampatti, the wealth of pure love. If one has no prema-sampatti, he is not a bona fide guru; he has no love and affection. If he neglects, avoids, and abuses others with the attitude that he is a great scholar and all others are useless, bogus, sinful, full of anarthas, and foolish, he is not a guru. This is not the symptom of a pure guru.
Śrī guru caraṇa padma. Śrī means prema, love; Śrī Guru has this love. He gives this love to the living entities; this is nectar and food for the soul. Taking this nectar, the conditioned souls come to the lotus feet of Śrī Guru. Then Śrī Guru’s caraṇa, lotus feet, give them a very nice treatment. Guru-caraṇa means that there are many sevakas who are very close to Śrī Guru and know his desire. The sevakas near Śrī Guru’s lotus feet are very qualified, humble, and sweet. They help the conditioned souls make a relationship with Guru-pāda-padma. Even if they may be from a high-class family and are very qualified, still if anyone comes to the holy dhāma, being ignorant of its glories, they will care for them continuously, teaching them and providing for all their needs. They will engage them in service to Śrī Gurudeva, and in this way they can come close to Śrī Guru.
A guru-sevaka holds all the wealth of Śrī Guru in his heart. That is spiritual wealth. When the guru-sevaka gives that wealth to a sādhaka, the sādhaka can understand Śrī Guru, and by understanding Śrī Guru it is possible to understand God. Prema-sampatti comes from Śrī Guru through his sevakas. Like a canal comes from a powerful river, and a smaller channel connects to the canal and from there to a pipe, from where the water flows into a field, nourishing all trees, plants, and creepers. If too much flood of water comes at once, it will wash away everything; and if there is no water, the plants will be dry.
Therefore, this process is śrī guru caraṇa padma. Padma means a lotus. Śrī Guru’s lotus feet are full of the nectarful honey of prema. If one drinks too much honey at once, one will not be able to digest it, but if one takes in regulated amounts, one’s desire to relish it will increase more and more. By first taking a little bit of this medicinal nectar, one’s disease will be cured and one will be hungry for more. Taking more, one will gradually become strong and healthy.
In this world, at the time of parikramā, the conditioned souls come to the Vaiṣṇavas, who take them to Śrī Guru. When they come close to Śrī Guru, Śrī Guru engages them in the service of God.
How can one understand God? Is the Deity a statue of God? Some say that even if one worships the Deity life after life, one’s material nature will never change. Māyāvādīs say that worshipping the Deity is helpful for a practitioner, and when one’s mind is fixed, the Deity is cast aside and one realizes God is without form or attributes. One then merges into the impersonal light. This is not Vaiṣṇavism. Vaiṣṇavism teaches that the living entities’ souls and the Supreme Soul, God, are not zero. Both the soul and God have spiritual figures and qualities.
The Deity of Guru and Vaiṣṇavas are present before us. These bodies are not mundane.
ācāryaṁ māṁ vijānīyān nāvamanyeta karhicit
na martya-buddhyāsūyeta sarva-deva-mayo guru
Oh Uddhava! Know the ācārya to be equal to Myself. He is My very svarūpa. Never should one, out of malice or neglect, disrespect him as an ordinary human being, nor should he be considered to possess any faults, for he is the embodiment of all the demigods.
Don’t think that Śrī Guru is mortal and the Vaiṣṇavas are mundane, their bodies being the same as ours. Gold is a metal, as are silver and copper, and also a cheap metal like iron, but all do not have the same value or qualities. Silver has high value, and Gold is more valued. In this world, don’t think Guru and Vaiṣṇavas are the same as ordinary people. All these things must be understood.
First one takes harināma and dīkṣā, and then śikṣā. Śikṣā-guru, or a tutor, teaches. After teaching, how can one practice? The śikṣā-guru instructs this. Simply by practice, God will not be happy with you. If you don’t teach or help others, you have not served God. Serving God means acting for His pleasure, doing anything for His happiness. All living entities are the parts and parcels of God. Hence, first one takes dīkṣā and harināma, and practically follows the process:
bhārata bhūmite haila manuṣya janma jāra
janma sārthaka kari kara para-upakāra
Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Ādi-līlā 9.41
One who has taken human birth in the land of Bhārata, India, should make his life successful and endeavour for the spiritual welfare of all other people.
First practice yourself, and then, when you are realized, help everyone. If you help others, you will progress more and more. You will taste greater sweetness and develop a more intimate relationship with God, Guru and Vaiṣṇavas. God’s heart will melt.
Caitanya Mahāprabhu Himself went to meet with Rūpa and Sanātana. He met with them four or five times. Afterwards, they resided in Vṛndāvana and wrote all scriptures for the pleasure of Mahāprabhu. By this, they helped all living entities, and thus Mahāprabhu was extremely pleased with them.
This is the perfect way of bhajana. If you help other jīvas, changing their heart, then you can perform nāma-saṅkīrtana, hari-kathā, and serve Lord Hari together with them. You will have a large family of God. For this reason, our Guru-varga opened branch offices of Vraja. Śrī Guru will be present there at all times, and everyone who comes is offered to his lotus feet. This is our process of Vaiṣṇavism.
Kevala-bhakati-sadma—Śrī Guru gives bhakti, the mercy and service tendency of svarūpa-śakti, Śrīmatī Rādhārānī.
Śrī Guru gives sac-cid-ānanda tattva to the living entities and they will then be active in positive engagement.
But will Guru-pāda-padma give affection and mercy one day and not help the next, like a mother who takes care of her babies and gives milk, and after one or two years, when they are strong and can eat grains, she stops giving milk? Will Śrī Guru help you, cooling your burning suffering, and then leave you on your own? No. He gives bhakti. What type of devotion? Devotion to one’s mother and father, country, or anything of this world? No. He arranges for one to take shelter of pure bhakti to Kṛṣṇa, kevala-bhakti. Who is the mother of bhakti? Guru-pāda-padma orders his disciples, “You came to me, now I am offering you to Bhakti-devī. She will maintain and take care of you.”
The mother of bhakti is Ekādaśī-devī. To make your eleven senses strong, controlled, and inclined to always perform bhakti, you must take shelter of mādhava-tithi, bhakti-janani. The mother of bhakti, Ekādaśī-devī, comes to help the living entities who misuse their eleven senses. The senses are uncontrolled. A bull is given a nose ring and is driven here and there. Similarly, strong chains are placed on an elephant’s legs, and then it cannot move independently. But this is not needed. If one takes shelter of Guru-pāda-padma, there will be no need of any rope, nose ring, earring or any other device. Śrī Guru naturally controls his disciples by giving āśraya of bhakti, bhakati-sadma.
Which āśraya? If anyone takes shelter of Śrī Guru, then desire will come to hear his hari-kathā, to take shelter of śravanākhya-bhakti, like Parīkṣit Mahārāja took shelter of Śukadeva Gosvāmī. Before, Parīkṣit Mahārāja took shelter of the other sages present, but when Śukadeva Gosvāmī came, Parīkṣit Mahārāja, along with all the ṛṣis, took shelter of Śukadeva Gosvāmī. Śukadeva Gosvāmī only gave hari-kathā. First is śravaṇam, then kīrtanam. Śrī Guru gives special mercy and order for hari-kathā śravaṇam. He gives inspiration to follow the limbs of bhakti. This is āśraya, shelter. If we follow bhakti, no problems will come to us in this world.
Vando mui sāvadhāna mate—Be careful! Many cheaters come and tell you, “I am guru, follow my order. I am your guardian and authority. Now you have no Gurudeva, now I am everything. Aham brahmāsmi, aham guru’smi, sivo’ham.” Think about this: Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura left the physical presence of Lokanātha dāsa Gosvāmī, but Narottama never said anyone else was his guru. He also respected Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī, Rūpa Gosvāmī Prabhu, and the other Gosvāmīs. This is our parakīya relation. If one truly has relation with Śrī Guru, then Śrī Guru will give us deep respect for mahā-bhāgavata Vaiṣṇavas.
Śrī Guru will make one humble, tṛṇād-api-sunīcena, very sweet and soft. Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura prayed:
kabe lokanātha more saṅge laiyā jābe
śrī rūpera pāda-padme more samarpibe
O Gurudeva! When will you mercifully give me your grace and offer me to the feet of Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī?
“When will that day come that Lokanātha dāsa Gosvāmī takes me by the hand and offers me at the lotus feet of Śrī Rūpa?” Is this improper behavior on the part of a disciple? He is telling his Gurudeva to offer him to Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī Prabhu. This is not wrong. Śrī Guru-pāda-padma always protects, helps, saves, inspires, and encourages his disciples to develop a relationship with mahā-bhāgavata Vaiṣṇavas. Don’t think that by taking shelter of Śrī Guru, he will kick you out or reject you.
In his life, Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura continuously taught all his disciples, “vando mui sāvadhāna mate. Sāvadhāna—be careful and serious. Don’t give up Śrī Guru for one second. Let no one else acquire your heart. Otherwise you will go far away from Śrī Guru and will lose everything, just like babies that grow older, become proud, and then leave their parents. The parents remember their children, but the children have other friendships and greed for many things, and thus they run away.
When you start bhakti, many types of anarthas arise. Svarūpa bhrama, asat tṛṣṇā, hṛdaya-durbalya, aparādha, sukṛti-uttha, duskṛti-uttha, aparādha-uttha and bhakti-uttha. When someone has a lot of sukṛti, people will come and give respect. They will offer puṣpāñjali and give presentations to that person. They will follow in his footsteps, line by line, and the sādhaka then thinks, “I am not less then Śrī Guru, I am the next ācārya. What lacking is there in me? Thousands and thousands of people follow me. I am more than Śrī Guru.” Then he no longer takes shelter of Śrī Guru’s lotus feet.
Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura did not act like this. He prayed, “Vando mui sāvadhāna mate—may no one divide me from my Guru-pāda-padma. May I not go far away from him.”
Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura may have appeared to be far from his guru, but truly he was very near and dear. He did not move one inch from his Gurudeva, not even for an instant. How can this be understood? If anyone has taken shelter of Śrī Guru and is always following Śrī Guru, then he will definitely always follow the limbs of bhakti, beginning with śravaṇam and kīrtanam. Why? Śrīla Gurudeva offers his followers in the shelter of Bhakti-devī’s lotus feet. This is a very serious and perfect indication. Any devotee who follows in the footsteps of Śrī Guru-pāda-padma will continuously perform the nine limbs of bhakti. They will not run here and there, giving up their bhakti.
This is vando mui savadhana mate. Otherwise, if you are far away from Guru Mahārāja, nothing you do is a vandana, prayer.
If anyone insults or doesn’t like your Guru Mahārāja, never go to that place.
guru nindukera mukha kabhu nā heribe
yathā haya guru-nindā tathā nā jāibe
Āśraya kariyā vando
Never look at the face or go near to those who blaspheme Śrī Guru.
If anyone insults my Guru Mahārāja and I go to that place, all my sukṛti will be lost, along with all auspiciousness. Always remain distant from such a place. Even if he is a mahā-bhāgavata, offer praṇāma to him from a distance, but don’t look at his face. This is very hard for devotees. Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī rejected his own brother when he offended Nityānanda Prabhu. Kavirāja Gosvāmī left him in a moment, “Hut! I have no relation with you any more!”
Sāvadhāna means to be careful. What does it mean to be careful? Should I think everyone is a scholar and very qualified? If they don’t respect my Gurudeva, I should not associate with them. Jagad-guru—my guru is the spiritual master of the entire world. Guru-niṣṭhā, faith in guru, is the backbone of bhakti. How is my guru the master of the entire world? Guru-pāda-padma doesn’t make disciples, he makes everyone into gurus. A teacher doesn’t make students, he makes tutors. In the same way, Guru Mahārāja gives the potency of God, svarūpa-śakti, and Her mercy and blessings to all jīvas, making them qualified. Being qualified, they will take responsibility. Gurutva means dayitva, or responsibility. A real disciple takes responsibility for service, “I will help everyone. I will bring everyone to the lotus feet of Śrī Guru and God. I will make everyone strong and qualified to serve God.” A disciple takes this responsibility.
If Gurudeva ever beats or insults you in front of everyone, don’t be disturbed and angry. For instance, Śrīla Gurudeva may say to others, “Don’t associate with that devotee. Don’t hear his classes or meet with him. Stay away from him. He is a great cheater and a dacoit.” But what is his intention in saying this? In this instance, the particular devotee in question went to Gurudeva that night, and Gurudeva asked him, “Do you know what I said?”
“Then people won’t come and disturb your bhajana,” Gurudeva said. “Otherwise, when would you find the time to chant harināma? When would you serve? They would steal you away from me and make you their servant.”
Anything the Guru-varga says is good for us. They are not cruel, angry, or cheating. They don’t neglect anyone. They want to keep all close by Rādhā-Kṛṣṇā. Never have any doubt. We should think, “Anything he wrote is perfect for us. We cannot understand the import our Guru-varga’s words without being under the guidance of Gurudeva.”
If you follow Gurudeva and are under his guidance, then you can understand your Param Gurudeva, Parameṣṭhi Gurudeva, and the whole Guru-varga. If you neglect your Guru Mahārāja, nothing will come to you. You will never get any realization.
Śrīla Gurudeva is respected and glorified. Always have a mood of opulence for him. Don’t be disrespectful or think him to be an ordinary man.
Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura explains: When you serve Gurudeva, many demigods will come and try to make you fall down. They will try to break and destroy you, pulling you away from guru-sevā. They will try to make you lose your guru-bhakti. Why? The demons very faithfully followed Śukrācārya and became very strong, being able to defeat all the demigods. The demigods then plotted to destroy the guru-bhakti of the demons and were victorious. If anyone follows Gurudeva and has guru-bhakti, the demigods will try to break this. Because if one has guru-bhakti, he will be very strong, unconquerable. If anyone has guru-niṣṭhā, even if his nature is like a demon or if he is third-class, by guru-niṣṭhā and guru-sevā, the potency of svarūpa-śakti will come to him and no one will be able to conquer him. Therefore, when one starts guru-sevā, the demigods will come in many guises to stop one. They think, “If he continues, he will cross beyond us and go to Goloka Vṛndāvana.” They are jealous and try to kick one away from guru-sevā. If you have any weakness or selfishness, you will lose your guru-sevā and niṣṭhā and go far away from Guru-pāda-padma. We must be very careful.
Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura further explains, “Don’t give the seat of your own guru to any other person.” If the entire Guru-varga is present before you, up to Lord Brahmā, still, if your own Śrī Guru is directly before you, offer praṇāma first to him. If he so instructs you, then offer praṇāma to Param Gurudeva, Parameṣṭhī-guru, Parātpara-guru, Paramparātpara-guru, and the Guru-varga. If he so instructs you, then serve Gaurāṅga Mahāprabhu, Nityānanda Prabhu, or Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa. Don’t do anything independently; otherwise, you will go far away from Śrī Guru. Because of independent desire, all living entities have fallen in this material world, going very far away from Kṛṣṇa. If now, after having been so fortunate to come to Śrī Guru, the sādhaka does anything independently, he will again go far away from his Guru. Who then will take care of him? Who will be his guardian?
Upon coming to Śrī Guru and offering yourself, Śrī Guru gives a mantra to chant. By chanting that mantra, you will develop a good relationship with your Guru and, being very merciful, he will continuously help you. Every morning, while chanting your guru-mantra, you should worship Śrī Guru. Remember how he puts on tilaka, takes ācamana, chants āhnika, and so forth. Offer him flowers, tulasī, sandal paste, bathing water, an āsana to sit on, a toothbrush, and all necessary paraphernalia. Bathe and dress him, and offer him something to eat. If you don’t perform dadāti-pratigṛhṇāti, giving and taking with love, then no relationship is established.
dadāti pratigṛhṇāti / guhyam ākhyāti pṛcchati
bhuṅkte bhojayate caiva / ṣaḍ-vidhaṁ prīti-lakṣaṇam
Offering pure bhaktas things in accordance with their needs and accepting gifts or remnant items given by them; revealing to them one’s heart-felt realizations concerning bhakti and asking from them about their confidential realizations; honoring with love the prasāda given by them and lovingly serving them prasāda—these are the six kinds of association that characterize love and affection.
These are the six symptoms of love. The sādhaka must daily first serve Śrī Guru-pāda-padma. This is favorable.
On the other hand, don’t perform any unfavorable action. Don’t sit on your guru’s seat or bed, don’t take his bhoga, and without his desire, don’t independently go anywhere or do anything. Don’t develop a relationship with any of his sevakas that is more than your relationship with him. If this is done, both the sevaka and sādhaka will go far from guru. Also, don’t read books like novels or anything texts opposed to scripture. Any book that Śrī Guru recommends is favorable for the disciple.
Jāhāra prasāde bhāi, e bhava toriyā jāi—Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura prays, By the mercy of Guru-pāda-padma, one can cross over the fearsome ocean of material existence. After one has surrendered to a Divine Master, and then, another guru comes, will one offer him respect or not? Are they not ācāryas and Vaiṣṇavas? Offer respect to all, but never forget or leave your Śrī Guru. Pray to the Vaiṣṇavas for faith in Śrī Guru. You can judge the quality of a Vaiṣṇava by how much he increases your love and faith for Śrī Guru.Never disrespect any devotee or Vaiṣṇava. Don’t forget this.
hoiyāchena hoibena prabhura jata dāsa
sabāra caraṇa vandoṅ dante kori’ ghāsa
Placing a straw between my teeth, I pray at the feet of all the servants of Mahāprabhu that were or will be.
Any Vaiṣṇavas that are present today, that were before, and that will come in the future, offer them obeisances with a straw in your teeth, meaning, with a humble mood. Don’t think that Vaiṣṇavas and great ācāryas were only present in the past and that now there are no Vaiṣṇavas, and in the future there will be no Vaiṣṇavas. Mahāprabhu’s line will never stop. Many ācāryas came before and many will come in the future. One ācārya said he would come one hundred times for one devotee. Mahāprabhu said He would take birth in three places: wherever His Deity is present and being worshipped, wherever His devotees are performing nāma-saṅkīrtana, and wherever a devotee continuously remembers Him. He will appear in the hearts of His devotees. Their tongues will be His mother and He will be present as harināma. Mahāprabhu, Guru-pāda-padma, and the Vaiṣṇavas are always present.
One time, a devotee asked Śrīla Gurudeva, “Many new devotees have come. They are very young, but you instruct your seniors to respect all.” Śrīla Gurudeva replied, “Yes. These young devotees are not junior; the senior is junior. Those young devotees started doing bhajana from the age of five or six, having practiced for a hundred years in their past life. Therefore they already have taste for bhajana at the age of five. But he who may be sixty now, yet has no taste for bhajana, is junior to he who is five, because the five-year-old has been doing bhajana for 105 years. You should respect everyone. In his previous life, the five-year-old may have been a big ācārya, and because of this, he now has taste for bhajana, prasādam, kīrtana, and everything. But you have no love for anything. Thus you are old, cold, and dry, like a straw or a wood trunk, whereas the five-year-old is like a young tree, with new branches, flowers, and fruits. Hence, he is senior and great.”
How can one understand this? Yahara prasāde bhai? How can I cross māyā if I have no respect for Vaiṣṇavas? If I believe there are no Vaiṣṇavas or devotees, who will protect me? Our Guru-varga have told, “They are all my vipada-uddhāraṇa-bāndhava, friends who help me in a dangerous time.”
The devotees protect us by keeping us engaged in kīrtana and hari-kathā. Otherwise Māyā-devī will catch us and make us like Śiva Ṭhākura’s dumuru drum. She will play with us like dolls. Guru-pāda-padma sends Vaiṣṇavas to protect us. They are respected and not ordinary. They are my respected helpers. Therefore we see in the lives of our Guru-varga that when any Vaiṣṇavas would come, they would offer them praṇāma and say, ‘dāso ‘smi,’ ‘I am your servant.’
Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura prayed, ‘yahara prasāde pai ei bhāva toriya jai,’ by Śrī Guru’s mercy we can cross māyā and overcome our anarthas, stocked and balanced over millions of lives. But crossing all this will be very easy by Śrī Guru’s mercy. Don’t take any other’s prasāda, or mercy. Only wait for guru’s mercy. Be one-pointed to Śrī Guru-pāda-padma. Then he will arrange where you should stay, what you should do, how to maintain yourself, what to eat, and everything.
If anyone performs guru-pūjā, very easily one will realize everything by the mercy of the Divine Master. One will cross māyā by the prasāda, the mercy, of guru. He will meet with Kṛṣṇa and His family, and will be active and able for eternal service. All good qualities will be given by Kṛṣṇa.
Within the instructions of Śrī Guru all of Kṛṣṇa’s potency is present and by following these instructions the disciple will be connected to svarūpa-śakti. Once this connection is made, it will not be possible to separate one’s self. This svarūpa-śakti, which is invested with guru’s instruction, will constantly attract and pull the disciple near and inspire him to perform sādhana. By the power of this śakti all obstacles preventing progress of the sādhaka will be destroyed and nothing will disturb him. So a disciple should have full faith in Gurudeva and follow his instructions. Then the disciple will be fearless and unaffected by any hindrances, like Prahlāda Mahārāja was completely unfazed by the attacks of his father Hiraṇyakaśipu.
Guru-pāda-padma is vātsalya-mātri-koṭi, his affection for his own followers is more than that of millions of mothers. He arranges to take care of all his followers.
How will anarthas go? Guru-sevā is the only way. A mother always has love for her children, even if they are dirty. She will wash, clean, and dress them, massage and take them in her lap—she always cares for her children. Any child without a mother is called an orphan. No one looks after him. Kṛṣṇa told in the Bhagavad-gītā (9.31), kaunteya pratijānīhi na me bhaktaḥ praṇaśyati. Take care of My devotees, they are not fallen. Protect them.
Guru-pāda-padma arranges for his disciples to stay with their Vaiṣṇava family, and under the guidance of the Vaiṣṇavas, they can continuously serve Guru-pāda-padma. How can it be possible then for anarthas to come?
Kṛṣṇa-prema-rasa, vraja-rasa and so forth, come by the mercy of Śrī Guru. How is it that bhakti-yoga is the highest? You will realize all these things, and then, from Vṛndāvana, the mañjarīs and Vraja-devīs will call you. They will give the qualified guru-sevaka entrance into the service of Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa. The Vraja-devīs check to see who is completely following and serving Guru-pāda-padma with one-pointed love.
Prasāda means mercy, but that is not the complete meaning. Guru-prasāda means all the devotees who are with Śrī Guru. They are his prasāda, his remnants. His mercy is present with them. If you don’t respect and serve the Vaiṣṇavas, but instead always fight with them, abuse them, and insult them, then Gurudeva will not be happy with you. God will not be happy. Guru’s prasāda is with those who have love for Guru-pāda-padma. Therefore respect and serve everyone appropriately.
How should you serve a godbrother or godsister that comes to you? If you are qualified, you can distribute Śrī Guru’s teachings to them. If you have an āsana, then give them a seat. If you have water, give them water. If you have any food or a place to reside, give that. If you have nothing, then at least speak sweetly, not duplicitously, bitterly, or with a fighting mentality. Endeavor to tolerate everything. Be patient. With patience, you can conquer over everything. E bhava toriyā jāi—if you have relationship with Śrī Guru’s prasāda, you will cross over māyā and will never have problems in life. All will bless you, help you, and give you mercy. You will never be afraid.
Kṛṣṇa-prāpti hoya jāhā ha’te—This is not too much of a headache. Why will you go to Kṛṣṇa? What is necessary? Kṛṣṇa is sarva akarsaka, all-attractive. He is raso vai sah. When you imbibed kṛṣṇa-rasa, you will not run here and there for jaḍa-rasa, mundane mellows.
Anyone who deeply hears and remembers Prema-bhakti-candrikā will never step away from Śrī Guru-pāda-padma. Guru-pāda-padma is always present. If God is always present and never dies, then God’s representatives and family members are also always present and never die. Śrīla Gurudeva is watching what we are doing, looking if we are remembering him or not, checking how much relationship we have with him. Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura and our entire parakīya guru-paramparā teach us to follow guru-bhakti.
Guru-bhakti is first, and after that one can understand the dhāma and perform parikramā. If you have no relationship with Śrī Guru, then you are an orphan. Māyā will smash you and throw you in the garbage. When we go on parikrāma, it is actually only Śrīla Gurudeva who is doing parikramā and he is carrying all of us along with him. I heard this from him many times. Guru-bhakti is therefore most important.
If you stay with the Vaiṣṇavas, it is very, very easy to attain Kṛṣṇa. But no guru-prasāda, then no Kṛṣṇa.
How does Śrī Guru help us to attain Kṛṣṇa? Guru-pāda-padma gives cit-jñāna. By going to sad-guru, you will realize that all your knowledge and qualities of this material world are worthless. Once you understand this, you will be freed of you false pride. You will offer praṇāma and surrender to Śrī Guru. Śrī Guru has this power, to steal away false pride.
Nityānanda Prabhu begged door to door on the order of Mahāprabhu, begging people for their anarthas and bad karma, and Prahlāda Mahārāja prayed to Lord Nṛsiṁhadeva, “Prabhu, the living entities have so many anarthas. Give them all to me. I will suffer life after life in hell, but please bestow prema-bhakti on all the living entities.”
“You have defeated Me,” Nṛsiṁhadeva said. “I cannot fulfil your request, but instead, if anyone remembers you and takes your shelter, I will free him from all suffering and give him pure devotion.”
The Guru-varga take away all the anarthas and false pride of the living entities. After that, the jīvas are able to offer praṇāma. The mood of the ignorant jīvas is very strange. Thinking they are cheating others, they are actually only cheating themselves. They follow dharma, artha, kāma, and mokṣa for their own selfishness, not for the service of God. But when they come to sad-guru, he engages them in the eternal service of Lord Kṛṣṇa.
Then the jīvas no longer serve their body, mind, and senses, and they no longer follow in the footsteps of mundane people. Being one-pointed to God, they are no longer concerned whether others are pleased with them or not. Problems no longer come to them. Why? Because they have become carefree and fearless. What can ordinary people give, take, or think? They are very small-minded misers. “If any mundane person is angry, what is the problem for me? And if he curses me, it will not have any effect.”
Some brāhmaṇas cursed Mahāprabhu, saying, “You will have no more money.”
“Yes, good,” Mahāprabhu said. “I am very happy.”
“Your family life will be destroyed!”
“This is even better.”
If someone curses a sādhaka to lose all his worldly possessions, this is very favorable. It is a blessing, and he should be happy. It is not a curse; it actually is a boon. The bhakta is not concerned about dharma, artha, kāma, and mokṣa.
Our “friends” at present—that is, the senses and the mind—always try to defeat and enjoy us. If we follow them, they are happy; if not, they become disturbed. But the forms, touches, tastes, sounds, and smells of this world do not attract the bhakta. His attachment to his body becomes smaller and smaller, and at one point it completely finishes. The body will remain, but it will be like a temple of God. He will clean and maintain it, but his relationship will be with God, just like the center of all activity in a temple is the Deity. When you are serving God in your spiritual body, the physical body will be maintained habitually, without requiring great endeavor. But if you have deep attachment to your material body, you will suffer greatly. To help you come out of illusion, māyā will punish you.
kṛṣṇa bhuli’ sei jīva anādi-bahirmukha
ataeva māyā tāre deya saṁsāra-duḥkha
Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 20.117
Forgetting Kṛṣṇa, the living beings have been attracted by His external potency from time immemorial. Therefore, māyā gives them all types of suffering within material existence.
kāma-krodhera dāsa hañā tāra lāthi khāya
bhramite bhramite yadi sādhu-vaidya pāya
tāṅra upadeśa-mantre piśācī palāya
kṛṣṇa-bhakti pāya, tabe kṛṣṇa-nikaṭa yāya
Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 22.14–15
In this way, the baddha-jīva becomes the slave of lusty desires, and when these are not fulfilled, he becomes the servant of anger and continues to be kicked by māyā. Continuously moving throughout the universe, he may, by chance, meet a sādhu-physician, whose instructions and prayers make the witch of māyā run away. The conditioned soul thus comes into contact with bhakti for Kṛṣṇa and will be able to go to Him.
The living entities have forgotten their real responsibility. They run, jump, catch, hold, and embrace everything mundane with a desire for sense enjoyment. They forcibly steal and try to enjoy God’s property, and thus punishment will surely come. Once you understands this and offers yourself to Guru-pāda-padma, Śrī Guru bestows spiritual vision. A true sādhaka realizes everything. His disease of looking at everything as objects of his sense enjoyment is cured, as he understands, “I am the servant of God, and all jīvas and objects of this world are the property of God.”
First we offer praṇāma to Śrī Guru, who removes our illusion. Always remember and pray with this verse, oṁ ajñāna timirandhasya. Then, being with Guru-pāda-padma, you will never have any problem.
By praying to Gurudeva, how can we understand if his blessings are with us or not? Our Guru-varga pray, “Vande guroḥ śrī caraṇāravindam.”
Pray to Śrīla Gurudeva, submissively inquire from him, and endeavor to follow any advice he gives. Don’t do anything without his permission.
Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī met with Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, first in Rāma Keli and later in Prayāga, and learned everything from Him. Later, he met Mahāprabhu in Jagannātha Purī. There, Mahāprabhu asked all the Vaiṣṇavas, “Please give your mercy and blessings to this Rūpa.” Similarly, when a devotee comes to Śrī Guru-pāda-padma for dīkṣā or harināma, Gurudeva begins a great fire ceremony. In that yajña, Śrī Guru offers, “Svāhā, svāhā! rūpa-mañjaryaī svāhā, lavaṅga-mañjaryaī svāhā,” and so forth. Śrī Guru offers his disciple to Subala, Śrīdāma, Dāma, Vasudāma, Mahāprabhu, Advaita Prabhu, the entire Guru-paramparā, and all the associates of Kṛṣṇa. Śrī Guru requests God’s family, “Please help this soul.”
At the beginning of this book, Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura wrote:
śrī caitanya mano’bhīṣṭaṁ sthāpitaṁ yena bhūtale
svayaṁ rūpaḥ kadā mahyaṁ dadāti sva-padāntikam
When will Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī give me shelter at his lotus feet? Because he realized Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s innermost-desire, he was able to establish his mission in this world and is very dear to the Lord.
Rūpa Gosvāmī Prabhu fulfilled the innerheart’s desires of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. Mahāprabhu desired to explain the glories and specialties of the Vraja-devīs to the living entities, hoping that when the jīvas would come to understand these glories, they would take shelter of the gopīs and mañjarīs, who then in turn would take care of them. God and His incarnations never accept unqualified jīvas, but the mañjarīs and Vraja-devīs are very kind, soft, and sweet. They are very simple and do not become upset if anyone disrespects them.
Rūpa Gosvāmī Prabhu wrote about the specialties of the Vraja-devīs in all of his books. How will perfection in prema-bhakti come? The final goal of life is pure love for God. To achieve this highest attainment, one must follow the process of bhakti-yoga. This begins with guru-pādaśraya, as described by Rūpa Gosvāmī Prabhu, and then kṛṣṇa-dīkṣā. After dīkṣā, there is śikṣā, and then viśrambheṇa-guru-sevā.
This doesn’t mean to serve Gurudeva for one or two days or years. Many people worship Śiva, praying, “Oṁ namo śivāya,” and after six months or a year, they start chanting, “śivo ’ham, śivo ’ham,” meaning, ‘I am Śiva.’ Kālī Mā then says, “First you were worshiping my husband, Śiva, and now you want to be him?” She will then take her sword and cut off the heads of such rascals and throw them out to the jackals and dogs.
In the same way, some first follow guru-pādāśraya, dīkṣā, and śikṣā, and then, when a little power comes, they say, “I am guru, I am Sad-guru Bhagavān.” Now they are no longer a servant, but instead claim to be the master of the whole world, a jagad-guru. When someone says, “Your identity is guru-dāsa,” they will respond, “No! I am oṁ viṣṇupāda parivrājaka ācārya, brahma-līn, aṣṭottara-śata!” They have many nicknames and surnames.
But when any Vaiṣṇava comes before us, we should pray, “I am your servant.” If the conception of being the master comes to the sādhaka, he will fall down and down, along with his all his followers. Why? He did not take shelter of guru. Guru is Nityānanda Prabhu and all the Vaiṣṇavas, and they all have the self-conception, “I am dāsa.”
Mahāprabhu Himself said:
maj-janmanaḥ phalam idaṁ madhu-kaiṭabhāre
mat-prārthanīya-mad-anugraha eṣa eva
bhṛtyasya bhṛtya iti māṁ smara loka-nātha
O Enemy of the Madhu and Kaiṭabha demons, O Master of the universe, the perfection of My life and My heartfelt prayer is that You accept Me as the servant of the servant of the servant of the servant of the servant of the servant of Your servant.
Mahāprabhu further instructed, “Never forget your eternal position.”
nāhaṁ vipro na ca nara-patir nāpi vaiśyo na śūdro
nāhaṁ varṇī na ca gṛha-patir no vanastho yatir vā
kintu prodyan nikhila-paramānanda-pūrṇāmṛtābdher
gopī-bhartuḥ pada-kamalayor dāsa-dāsānudāsaḥ
I am not a brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya, vaiśya, or śūdra, nor am I a brahmacārī, gṛhastha, vānaprastha, or sannyāsī. Being situated above this gross and subtle body, I am the servant of the servant of the servant of the lotus feet of the master of the gopīs, Śrī Gopīnātha, who is the ultimate shelter of all, full of transcendental bliss, and an ocean of limitless nectar.
If someone forgets his identity as the servant of Śrī Guru, he has not taken shelter of Śrī Guru, but rather, he has stolen his Guru’s post. “Who is Guru?” “I am Guru.” “Then what is your Guru Mahārāja’s post?” “I am now jagad-guru.”
If this position comes and one cheats others, then everything will be lost. “Dāso ’ham,” I am the servant. I am guru-dāsa, the servant of Śrī Guru, and if anyone comes to me, I will bring him to the shelter of Śrī Guru. This is my duty. If I don’t do this, I will lose everything and will fall prey to brahmavāda, bauddhavāda, or māyāvāda.
Here is written: guru pādāśraya, dīkṣā, and then śikṣā and viśrambheṇa guru-sevā. This means your guru-sevā must go on continuously. Anything that comes to you must be fully offered to Śrī Guru. “My love, affection, desire, duty, property, wealth, health, and everything I possess is for guru-sevā.” When you have this attitude, then everyone who comes near you will also come into that channel and flow. If you are independent, then the flow of guru’s mercy will stop and you will not be able to help any jīva. Then you are not an authority but a cheater. This is called māyāvāda.
Water is helpful for everyone, to drink, but when it is very cold, water becomes ice, which is hard like a rock and undrinkable. When guru’s śakti comes, when a little power comes, I immediately think, “I am the master.” ‘Prabhuta pai, mada kahi nahi.’ I may become intoxicated with position and authority, but where am I really? Have I crossed māyā?
Visvāmṛta Ṛṣi tried to send his unqualified disciple to heaven upon that disciple’s repeated requests, but the demigods didn’t allow that person to enter. They kicked him, shouting, “Get out, you rascal!” Tumbling down from heaven, the disciple called out, “Gurudeva, Gurudeva, I am falling, save me! I will die.” Visvāmṛta Ṛṣi quickly yelled, “Tiṣṭha!” meaning, ‘Be fixed where you are!’ Thus, that unqualified discipel hung there in the sky, with his legs up and head down. This is like the position of the bogus disciple who tries to steal the post of his Gurudeva.
Sad-guru always thinks of himself as guru-dāsa and always performs viśrambheṇa guru-sevā. He continuously serves his Gurudeva and brings everyone to his Guru’s lotus feet. When anyone would come to our Śrīla Gurudeva, he would offer them all at the lotus feet of Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī, saying, “Now you are a rūpānuga.”
Guru-sevā is essential! If you try to steal and enjoy Śrī Guru’s property, you will be a great demon.
Gurudeva appears in his śrī-vigraha before the sādhaka. To help the living entities, Gurudeva first appears in this world in one body and then manifests himself everywhere in thousands and thousands of bodies. Anyone who serves and worships him and follows all the all the rules and regulations of bhakti will be connected to him. Vraja-bhakti-rasa, prema-rasa, and vraja-bhāva will flow to that person. This is the bhajana-rasa-dhara that comes to the sādhaka. The sādhaka will not think, “I am equal to Śrī Guru.”
Uddhava asked Kṛṣṇa, “How can I protect myself from māyā when You go?”
Kṛṣṇa replied, “Worship My Deity.”
śailī dārumayī lauhī lepyā lekhyā ca saikatī
manomayī maṇimayī pratimāṣṭa-vidhā smṛtā
The Deity, or arca-vigraha of Śrī Bhagavān, is of the following eight kinds: marble or stone, wood, iron, gold or any other alloy, clay, painted, sand, mentally conceived, and made of gems, pearls or jewels.
If you have nothing, then you can even draw a picture of Śrī Guru on the wall and worship him there. The Deities of God and Śrī Guru are not different. If you don’t worship guru and perform viśrambheṇa guru-sevā, you will fall down.
Prema-sevā is learnt from Guru Mahārāja. By serving Guru-pāda-padma, pure devotion will come in your life.
[CC-by-NDNC Bhakta Bandhav]