cakṣu-dāna dilā jei, janme janme prabhu sei
divya-jñāna hṛde prakāśita
prema-bhakti jāhā haite, avidyā vināśa jāte
vede gāya jāhāra carita
Sri Prema-bhakti-candrikā, Chapter 1, Text 3
He who has given me transcendental vision is my master, life after life. By his mercy, divine knowledge awakens within the heart. From him, prema-bhakti emanates, destroying all ignorance. The Vedic scriptures sing of his life and character.
All people are born with eyes, so what does cakṣu-dāna (‘the gift of vision’) mean then? When you are born from a mother and father, you receive eyes from your parents with which you can perceive your blood relationships. Lord Brahmā gave you a body made of five elements, and with that body you observe the five elements in many varied forms throughout the world.
Guru-pāda-padma, however, is not a person of this world. He is of the eternal, spiritual world. Hence, he says, “Anything you see with your material eyes only cheats you. Don’t accept the objects of this world (the many forms, tastes, smells, sounds, and touches) with your working senses (the tongue, hands, nose, ears, stomach, genitals, and so forth). There are twenty-six elements and they comprise so many mundane objects, which are perceived with the eyes. All these things are māyā and they bewilder the living entities.” Guru teaches his disciples not to look at these things.
grāmya-kathā nā śunibe, grāmya-vārtā nā kahibe
bhāla nā khāibe āra bhāla nā paribe
Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Antya-līlā 6.236
Do not talk about mundane topics or hear what the general people have to say. Do not eat rich food, nor dress opulently.
And Rūpa Gosvāmī Prabhu said:
atyāhāraḥ prayāsaś ca prajalpo niyamāgrahaḥ
jana-saṅgaś ca laulyaṁ ca ṣaḍbhir bhaktir vinaśyati
Six faults that destroy bhakti are: (1) over-eating or collecting more than needed; (2) over-endeavors or doing things opposed to bhakti; (3) speaking useless mundane talk; (4) not following essential rules and regulations, or fanatically adopting rules and regulations; (5) bad association; and (6) having greed or the restlessness of the mind to adopt worthless opinions.
Atyāhāraḥ means overeating. This doesn’t only refer to food. The eyes look at so many forms. They take pictures and keep them as permanent images within the mind. We hear many sounds in the air and smell so many things. We continuously collect things with our senses. Rūpa Gosvāmī Prabhu instructs the sādhaka on the path of bhakti to be very careful with collecting the things of this world through the eleven senses, for this destroys one’s tendency to perform devotional service to Kṛṣṇa—bhakti-vinaśyati.
Cakṣu-dāna—when you have no spiritual vision, you can only perceive the body, your blood relatives, and the objects of this world. You have no power to cross over māyā. The soul is inside the body, along with the Supreme Soul. God is present inside all the living entities, but the jīvas cannot perceive God due to being covered by māyā. Therefore, the majority of all instructions given in this world are in regard to the body and its maintenance, for if one doesn’t understand the soul, how can one explain these truths to others?
But Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura explains: cakṣu-dāna dilā jei, janme janme prabhu sei divya-jñāna hṛde prakāśito—Śrī Guru bestows transcendental eyes to perceive spiritual reality and to understand scripture, Hari, Guru, and Vaiṣṇavas. Without transcendental vision, it is impossible to understand and have true darśana of śāstra, dhāma, guru, and vaiṣṇavas. If you look at these with mundane eyes, you will also see all of them as mundane. This is called jaḍa-darśana and it will cheat the sādhaka. It deprives him of the actual transcendental vision of Hari, Guru, and Vaiṣṇavas. He will not able to see the true svarūpa of the dhāma, nor realize the imports of the śāstra. Therefore, this gift of divine vision is very essential. Without this cakṣu-dāna, you will see that which is right to be wrong and that which is wrong to be correct. The unavoidable result will be aparādha.
Transcendental vision is composed of nirguṇa-tattva and has thus complete independence from the three modes of material nature. The material reality is composed of eight basic elements.
bhūmir āpo ’nalo vāyuḥ / khaṁ mano buddhir eva ca
ahaṅkāra itīyaṁ me / bhinnā prakṛtir aṣṭadhā
My external prakṛti has eight categories: earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intelligence, and false ego.
Mundane vision can only see three of these eight elements, namely earth, fire, and water. Material eyes cannot even glimpse air or ether, for these elements are beyond the capacity of the material eyes. And more subtle still are the mind, intelligence, and ego, which cannot be experienced through any of the material senses. But by the grace of Śrī Guru, you can see above and beyond all of these eight elements. Only by the grace of Śrī Guru, who is the bestower of this divine sight, can you see reality as it is: brahma-mayam-jagat—everything that exists comes from and is meant to be engaged in the service of God.Seeing with this vision, the futility and illusory nature of this mundane world will be easily understood. The true nature and identity of the soul will be revealed and as a result all lamentation, fear, anger, lust, etc. will be dispelled.
Janme janme prabhu sei—that guru from whom this spiritual sight is received is my master, birth after birth. This deep mood can only be truly spoken by that disciple who has actually received these transcendental eyes. This divine vision will grant darśana of the true self, vision of your own soul, and the soul’s true attributes and characteristics. This is called svarūpa-siddhi. At this time, you will also have pure darśana of Gurudeva’s svarūpa as akhaṇḍa-guru-tattva coming from Baladeva Prabhu, and you will see a glimpse of Gurudeva’s eternal form. The disciple will then sing like this: cakṣu dāna dila jei janme janme prabhu sei. A disciple who has not attained this stage may also have this sentiment, but it is not a realized emotion. Because he does not have cakṣu-dāna, or sambandha-jñāna, he has not seen or realized the spiritual form of Gurudeva. He may still be derailed and misguided by those who claim themselves to be guru but actually have no power to help the soul.
A disciple who has not yet received this gift of divine vision does not have sambandha-jñāna, and therefore does not understand the true nature of guru. As a result, he is unable to take full shelter and accept Śrī Guru. For such an aspiring disciple, it is not guaranteed that the same Gurudeva will come as his guru birth after birth. Yet it may be, by the will of the Lord, that the same guru will also come in future lives, especially if that disciple is sincere at heart and serving without any deceit. Despite his disqualification and lack of divya-jñāna, sad-guru will then accept him as a family member. If Śrī Guru’s heart melts as a result of the śiṣya’s sincere service, then Śrī Guru will take responsibility for the deliverance of that disciple. How can Gurudeva leave that disciple? If the disciple is attached and refuses to leave the shelter of Śrī Guru, then that guru also cannot and will never leave that disciple. He will come again, life after life, to help him progress on this path until he is liberated. This is called svarūpa-siddhi, and when one finally attains his pure spiritual form within the pastimes of Kṛṣṇa, it is called vastu-siddhi. Once present in the pastimes of Kṛṣṇa, service will continue under the guidance of guru in his sakhī-svarūpa. Therefore, attachment and service to guru is eternal and continues and increases life after life, both while conditioned and upon perfection. Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmīpāda has explained in Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu (1.2.295):
siddha-rūpeṇa cātra hi
One who has an intense desire to attain rāgātmikā-bhakti follows in the footsteps of the Vrajavāsīs, who are dedicated to the practices of rāga-mārga. With his external body, he should hear and chant according to the methods of rāgānuga-bhakti, and with his internally conceived body (siddha-rūpa) given to him by his guru, he should serve.
It should be understood that all the bona fide gurus are expansions of Nityānanda Prabhu. Thus, any bona fide guru can give true relationship with God to his disciples. For example, water always has the same basic qualities and nature, whether it is well water, river water, or ocean water. And as a spark of fire has the same quality as a large burning fire, although one may have more potency than the other. In the same way, all sad-gurus are akhaṇḍa-nityānanda-tattva and should not be seen as separate. Some specialties may be present in each of them according to their individual relationships with God, but they should not be seen as different or separate from each other. The pure disciples of any ācārya are non-different from him. The only difference is that the disciples have sevaka-abhimāna towards their guru. All true gurus are under the direct guidance of Nityānanda Prabhu.
While living in darkness, you do not understand the effect of the sun and its light. Once you come out of darkness, you can see and feel the benefit of the sun and its rays. Then you will understand the superiority of the sun and never again go back to darkness. Similarly after receiving sambandha-jñāna from sad-guru and witnessing Śrī Guru’s divine nature, you will never again be derailed by or attracted to a guru who is not qualified. Ordinary persons who themselves are still absorbed in darkness and do not have this connection with God can never give spiritual sight. They may have many siddhis and be able to give many material assets, but because they cannot give cakṣu-dāna, they are not part of guru-tattva. They are in a separate category.
Once a bona fide disciple, by the grace of Śrī Guru, attains svarūpa-siddhi, then, with transcendental vision, he will have darśana of his own svarūpa, as well as the svarūpa of guru and God. But still the essential need of guru’s grace and guidance remains. Relationship with God and His associates must still be strengthened. During the pastimes of Mahāprabhu, many people had His darśana, but they could not understand His divinity. Two thieves had direct contact with Mahāprabhu, but they were not perfected. If these souls, however, will continue to perform sādhana, then by Śrī Guru’s grace, they will attain perfection. Once you establish a true relationship with sad-guru, built upon the platform of sambandha-jñāna, then that guru will come for you again, life after life, until you are perfected. And also in the perfected state, that guru will continue to guide you.
The guru of Gopa-kumāra was always protecting and guiding him in each stage of his progression. This deep relationship with guru is true dīkṣā. Once this relationship is made, then you will be a true disciple, and then: janme janme prabhu sei. If a disciple has true love for Śrī Guru, then he will always remember him and never forget him. That love will become so strong that guru will come life after life to deliver him.
As Bharata Mahārāja had been absorbed in thinking of a deer during his life, he remembered that deer at the time of death and thus took birth as a deer in his next life. Similarly, if a disciple always remembers his Gurudeva, then that guru will come for that disciple in every birth until he achieves perfection. This is meaning of guru-dayitva, or responsibility. Śrī Guru takes this responsibility to help his true disciple, birth after birth. But before this strong relationship is present, all gurus who are guiding us on the bhakti-marga are our śikṣā-gurus. All the śikṣā-gurus in the life of a sādhaka will direct and train him to receive true dīkṣā from his eternal dīkṣā-guru. There can be many śikṣā-gurus, but dīkṣā-guru is one. True dīkṣā means svarūpa-siddhi, and that guru from whom a disciple receives this, he is his one and only worshipful dīkṣā Gurudeva, birth after birth.
Mundane people and transcendentalists are completely different in nature. Śrī Raghunātha Bhaṭṭa Gosvāmī would speak the Bhāgavatam very sweetly in Vṛndāvana-dhāma, with a melodic voice, like a cuckoo. Anyone who heard him speak, would find his heart melting, because Raghunātha Bhaṭṭa Gosvāmī had no relation with any language of this world. He was related to the truths of the transcendental world.
The leader of one village would come daily for hari-kathā and he would become very happy. Raghunātha Bhaṭṭa Gosvāmī’s heart would melt. He wept when describing the separation of the Vraja-devīs, and everyone in the audience wept as well. Rūpa Gosvāmī Prabhu was present in the audience, but he sat only with wide open eyes, completely motionless.
Someone said, “Rūpa Gosvāmī’s eyes are open without blinking.” Another said, “Go and check if he is breathing.”
A devotee went forward with a piece of cotton and held it under Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī’s nostrils, but there was no sign of any breath. Rūpa Gosvāmī Prabhu was in eternal samādhi. Although his eyes were open and appeared to be looking at this world, he was present in the spiritual world, witnessing the pastimes of Vraja-maṇḍala. After a long time, one breath came out and that cotton was immediately burnt to ash; the person’s hand was also burnt. In an early stage of separation, one weeps and laments. But when separation is extremely intense, one’s condition becomes like that of Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī here. How can this be understood by ordinary people?
The village leader would hear hari-kathā daily. After many days, his wife became very disturbed, because her husband was neglecting her and the household. Instead of looking after her, he would spend most of his time absorbed in spiritual activities, such as attending hari-kathā. She came once to Vṛndāvana and saw many widow ladies present there. She called one lady and said, “I will give you ten thousand rupees if you make some drama, so that my husband thinks that this sādhu is bogus and he will return home. Say that you have been impregnated by this sādhu.”
When Raghunātha Bhaṭṭa Gosvāmī’s class was finished, the old widow loudly wept in the back of the class. The sādhus left without paying her any heed, but the village leader came over and asked, “What is your problem? Why are you lamenting like this?”
She only wept more loudly, not saying anything.
“Do you have no house?” the village leader said. “Are you a beggar? I will rent you a room and maintain you.”
She continued to weep, and he asked again and again what the problem was. Finally, she said, “This sādhu who speaks hari-kathā has made me pregnant. What can I do? Now my life is destroyed.”
“Speak the truth!” the man shouted. “If you lie, I will kill you. This sādhu is completely pure. He is not present in this world. He is always engaged in hari-kathā and service of God. You are trying to cheat me. Tell the truth!”
The widow became very scared and said, “Oh, one lady from a village gave me a large sum of money to say that this sādhu made me pregnant.”
“From which village was that lady?”
The widow told the name of the lady and her husband.
“I am the husband of that wicked woman.”
This village leader thought, “My so-called wife insulted and conspired against sādhus for her personal enjoyment.”
He went home and set fire to his house. After it burnt down completely, he returned to Vṛndāvana. His Gurudeva, Raghunātha Bhaṭṭa Gosvāmī, had given him spiritual eyes. He knew who was honest and who was a rascal. Rascals always try to cheat those with spiritual aspirations, with the hope they will fall down. With this in mind, they arrange many strategies. Those who have spiritual eyes will not be bewildered by such rascals.
Duplicity and cheating is the nature of mundane enjoyers. They don’t fear offending Vaiṣṇavas. Śrī Guru-pāda-padma gives transcendental eyes to his followers, so that they can perceive who is good and who is wicked, what is nectar and what is poison. The eyes given to you by your blood parents or by Lord Brahmā are cheating you. They collect mundane pictures of objects which are tama, raja, or sattva. Spiritual eyes only perceive what is nirguṇa, transcendental. When Śrī Guru bestows divine vision, then divya-jñāna hṛde prakāśito—transcendental knowledge manifests in the heart. Taste comes for scriptures, like the Bhagavad-gītā and Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, and one will understand their real imports. When reading or hearing scripture, realization of the secret truths will come in the heart. When people read with mundane eyes, they will only understand mundane meanings.
Scripture is spiritual. Without Śrī Guru’s mercy and the spiritual vision he bestows, one cannot understand scripture. When Śrī Guru-pāda-padma gives transcendental eyes, a disciple can understand who his true friends are. Before this, he will have relation with many so-called material friends and will have no taste for spiritual life. After spiritual vision comes, you will understand, “A friend means fry-end; first there is friendship, then you get fried and the friendship is ended.” But when you have transcendental eyes, you will understand who your near and dearest guardian and authority is. You will no longer run and beg for shelter from cheaters. You will be carefree and fearless. The mahā-bhāgavata has love for God, and he transmits prema-bhakti to those who submit to him. Upon the arising of divine knowledge, divya-jñāna, Śrī Guru bestows prema-bhakti, pure love and devotion—prema-bhakti jāhā haite. Without this, you will only have devotion for your mother, father, wife, children, and so forth. This is not prema-bhakti. Mundane people don’t have bhakti; they have illusory attachment for this world. If you go to mundane people, you will see how attached they are to this world and its objects.
When prema-bhakti comes, then at the same time avidyā, ignorance, is destroyed. Prema-bhakti jāhā haite, avidyā vināśa jāte.
Avidyā, asmita, rāga, dveṣa, abhiniveṣa, and so forth will never go without the mercy of Śrī Guru, which comes in the form of the bestowal of prema-bhakti.
Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura is here indicating the sequence of effects, caused by Śrī Guru’s grace. He has clearly stated that first prema-bhakti will be bestowed by Śrī Guru, and then all ignorance and contamination will be destroyed. A doubt may easily arise as to how completely pure prema-bhakti can enter a heart that is contaminated with avidyā. It seems more logical that before prema-bhakti can enters into the heart, any contamination must first be cleansed. This is true, yet the power of sad-guru breaks all the rules of logic and reason. Only Śrī Guru-pāda-padma has this ability and eligibility to instill prema-bhakti within the heart of his disciple, and by doing so, clean it of all ignorance. Therefore the Vedic scriptures glorify Śrī Guru: vede gāya jāhāra carito. You will understand who has good character and who you should meet with. When you have prema-bhakti, you will not see the buildings and people of this world; you will see Vraja-bhūmi and be engaged there, in service. If a premi-bhakta is on a mountain, in a desert, or at any other place, that place turns into a holy dhāma.
yathāya vaiṣṇava-gaṇa sei sthāna vṛndāvana,
sei sthāne ānanda aśeṣa
Kalyāna Kalpataru, Song 4
Vṛndāvana is that place where sādhus are present. If there are no sādhus, you should not go there. Śrīla Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura says, tīrtha-yātrā-pariśrama, kevala-manera-bhrama—
going on pilgrimage is simply a useless labor. It is only another kind of satisfaction for the bewildered mind.
That place where no sādhus are present should be avoided. Tīrtha-yatra? Should one go for a tour of the holy places? This is only hard labor without result if one doesn’t meet with sādhus. This is kevala-manera-bhrama, only mental speculation. People think, “By going there, I will be pleased and satisfied,” but nothing comes. Go wherever sādhus are present, for that place has become non-different from Vṛndāvana and is most auspicious.
There are five types of avidyā, or ignorance: tama, moha, mahā-moha, tamiśra, and andha-tamiśra.
Tama means darkness and ignorance. In this state, you cannot comprehend truth. There is only cheating. You will not understand, ‘Who am I?’ or ‘Who are they?’ Many dacoits and cheaters have come in front of me. In this world, we see that a group of cheaters and thieves will make a union, or what they call a ‘sat-sanga,’ a society, trust, or sevā-aśrama.
They promise each other, “We won’t lie to each other. We won’t cheat each other. If one of us is caught, we will not tell on the others.” Then they go and kill people, steal all their wealth, put it in one place, and then divide it all amongst themselves. Is this a sat-saṅga? They say, “We are truthful and loyal people. Our committee is very strong.” But is their business very good?
In this world, people open societies, trusts, and centers like this, but for what purpose? There are many cheaters, collecting material wealth from here and there, by hook or crook, and dividing it among their group of thieves while saying, “We have such a great society.”
Avidyā vināśa jāte—in ignorance, tama and moha, one has no intelligence to discern who is a cheater and who is an honest person concerned for one’s welfare.
Maha-moha is when people say, “Eat, drink, and be merry. Enjoy by any means possible! That is best way to live.”
Tamiśra is when you becomes very angry when there is any obstacle to your enjoyment. Anyhow, you will cheat others and endeavor your best to kill or destroy your enemies; only then will you be happy. You arrange others to insult, blaspheme, and destroy your enemies, like Hiraṇyakaśipu tried in so many ways to harm Prahlāda Mahārāja.
Andha-tamiśra is when you think, “Oh, why did this person come to my room?” “Where did this water come from?” You will doubt everything. When wearing cloth, you will think, “Did anyone place a scorpion in my pocket?” “Did anyone put poison in my water tank?” You will shake your bed sheets ten times, always having doubt. This is andha-tamiśra. When going outside, you will have many bodyguards who carry weapons, but those bodyguards will think after sometime, “These weapons are not being used. We have held them uselessly for so long and should engage them in some work. We should use them against this person, this is a good purpose.” And then they attack you instead of protecting you. Why? By staying with a person in andha-tamiśra, their intelligence is now lost as well. This is the affect of bad association. If someone is full of doubt, then those who are with that person will become the same. It is not the fault of the bodyguards. By being with a bad and doubtful person— always eating, sleeping, and staying with him— their nature has become like his. If you like bhakti, bhajana, and guru-sevā, then those who come in contact with you will also get that nature. Only tilaka, mālā, and a shaved head cannot cover someone’s crooked nature. Why? His party, or followers, will all have the same nature as him.
How can you understand a man? You can judge him by his company. If all your company is bad, how can you have any good sense? But by the mercy of Śrī Guru, who bestows spiritual eyes, you will not be cheated by anyone.
After you receive spiritual eyes, divine knowledge comes and avidyā, or ignorance, is destroyed. Then prema-bhakti, loving devotion for God, awakens.
Vede gāya jāhāra carito—that person will then be very respected and renowned.
What is avidyā? Many problems come for bhajana. There are four kinds of anarthas: sukṛtotthā-anartha, duṣkṛtotthā-anartha, aparādhotthā-anartha, and bhakty-utthā-anartha. These are called kleśa. There are five types of these: avidyā, asmita, rāga, dveśa, and abhiniveśa. The first is avidyā.
Avidyā has four types of anarthas.
- Duṣkṛtotthā-anartha: In past lives, you disturbed many people or performed many sinful acts. Results come from those actions. When chanting harināma, you will get a headache; and when you are not chanting, you will be very happy. When you go to serve God, you will have no taste, but you will work day and night doing mundane social service without becoming tired. Why? Ordinary people thank you for such help of the body; but when you serves God, nobody announces your glories. People desire their names to be printed on the front page of newspapers for being a humanitarian, and then many will worship them and give them thousands of garlands. Because of duṣkṛtotthā-anarthas, many bad people will surround such a person and they will say, “Harināma is useless, don’t chant. Work hard in this world.” You will not be able to perform bhajana.
- Sukṛtotthā-anartha: In past lives, you did many pious activities. As a result, many people give you donations, such as cows, hospitals, and followers. Thus, day and night, you will be very busy in mundane activities and garnering fame, having no time for the soul and service of the Supreme Soul.
- Aparādhotthā-anartha: Because you made many offenses, people dislike and abuse you, and your body will be ill. Even though you work hard, people always blame and insult you. Even though you never steal anything, people say, “You are a great thief and cheater.”
- Bhakty-utthā-anartha: There are ten types of nāma-aparādha. When an aspirant crosses aparādha, many mystic powers come. His words will hold great power, and people will think he is perfect and a divine master. They will line up in front of him and present him with many gifts, but he will not offer these to Śrī Guru. Many fruits, flowers, sweets, and many things from the mundane world will come to him, but it will not be possible for him to offer to Hari, Guru, and Vaiṣṇavas. He will think, “This is my property,” and will never share it. This state of being is millions of times worse than a miser. People give many things, but he will not use any of it. He will have so much cloth, but it will be eaten by insects. It may burn or rot, but he will not give it to anyone.
Because of bhakty-utthā-anarthas, the sādhaka will have attachment to personal gain, adoration, and prestige, and all things will come easily. You should be very careful to stay away from any attachment to this world. Śrī Guru purifies the sincere disciple and bestows bhajana-sampatti, the wealth of divine rapture. Śrī Guru gives him spiritual eyes—cakṣu-dāna means Gurudeva gives his own eyes to his disciple. If someone has lost his eyes and goes to an expert kavirāja, that kavirāja can give him new eyes and enable him to see again. This is called cakṣu-dāna. Similarly, the conditioned soul has no spiritual eyes. Śrī Guru-pāda-padma therefore gives his own spiritual eyes and the eyes of scripture and sādhus.
[CC-by-NDNC Bhakta Bandhav]