Ananya-śaraṇa Is Essential
But if Śrīla Gurudeva’s followers start following any other guide, this will be like disobeying Śrīla Gurudeva. By doing so, they go distant to Śrīla Gurudeva and step out of his specific line. Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī has many groups of followers. Those who are in Lalitā-devī’s group will respect and love all the other sakhīs and mañjarīs, but they will only follow Lalitā-devī’s instructions. They serve Śrī Śrī Rādha and Kṛṣṇa only under her guidance and cannot do anything independently. They have no time to run here and there, and they know that if they would, they would lose everything. Śrīla Gurudeva often said that during this training time, while staying in the āśrama of śrī guru, we should be very serious. If we run here and there, we will be misguided. Doubts will come and we can easily be cheated by any so-called guide. Only a guru will take full responsibility for his disciple’s progress, just like a child is loved most by his mother. An aunty may also love her sister’s child, but that love will not equal the love of the mother. The aunt’s love will be only for some time, temporary, whereas the mother permanently takes care of her own child. A sādhaka in training will therefore serve other Vaiṣṇavas, but only with the desire to obtain their blessings to establish his own relationship with Śrīla Gurudeva: “How can I be close to my gurudeva? How can I become a true guru-sevaka? Please bless me, so that I may serve my gurupāda-padma in the same way as you have served yours.”
Śrīla Gurudeva is checking if his disciples have this ananya-śaraṇa, meaning that they have no other shelter than Śrīla Gurudeva. If they do, then Śrī Gurupāda-padma will be so happy and pleased, and Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī, Śrī Rūpa Mañjarī, Śrī Rati Mañjarī, and all the other sakhīs and mañjarīs will also notice and value this quality. They will think, “Just see how strong this sevaka is!”
Śrīla Gurudeva once gave the example of a British poem, called Casabianca. This poem tells the story of a boy who used to travel together with his father from island to island on a boat. One day, his father said, “I need to go and get some food and water. You should stay here until I get back.” While his father was away, however, the boat caught fire. All the other passengers jumped off the boat. They also called that boy to come into the life raft, but he refused. He said, “My father has not returned. He told me to stay here until he gets back, so I will remain here waiting for him. When he calls me, I will go. Otherwise, I cannot leave.” But the boat was burning and sinking into the ocean. Everybody had left and only the boy remained. His father did not come, so he kept waiting. The boy then called out, “O my dear father, where are you?” His father was far away and could not hear him, but God could. When God saw this boy’s strong faith in his father, He thought, “I am your eternal father. I will help you.” He took that boy on His lap and carried him across the ocean to the nearest island, where they arrived before any of the other passengers did. The boy’s father, who was present there on that island, said, “My dear son, I thought you had died! Who saved you? Who helped you?” The boy replied, “Father, I have faith in you. I have love for you. All were calling me, but I could not follow them. I was waiting for you. Therefore it must have been you who took me in your lap and brought me here.”
Śrīla Gurudeva said that if anyone has this kind of love and faith for his guru, then that gurupāda-padma will take that disciple in his lap and carry him across all obstacles. That disciple will always be protected by his gurupāda-padma. We should be like parama-gurudeva, Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Gosvāmī Mahārāja, and serve our gurudeva like he served Śrīla Prabhupāda Sarasvatī Ṭhākura. His entire life, without Śrīla Prabhupāda, he did not know anything. And we should see how Śrīla Prabhupāda served his gurus, Śrīla Gaura-kiśora dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja and Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura.
Śrīla Gurudeva is checking if his disciples have this ananya-śaraṇa, if they are serious and one-pointed, just like Kṛṣṇa is watching all the gopīs when He disappeared from the rāsa-dance. He is checking, “Are they really following Me, or now that I disappeared, are they running here and there and taking shelter in other places?” When Kṛṣṇa saw that all the gopīs were continuously remembering Him, He reappeared in front of them. He gave them His darśana and accepted them all.
In the same way, Śrīla Gurudeva has collected our hearts. He has accepted us and is now watching us from a distance. He is checking, “Who is trying to follow me, and who, for their own enjoyment and selfish desire, is running away and no longer following my instructions? Who is not waiting for me? Who has no more faith in me?” Some people have a business mentality. They will go to wherever facility or opportunity is easily available. But someone who is continuously serving Śrī Gurupāda-padma and has established his eternal relationship with him will be able to enter the eternal, spiritual world. He will be his guru’s nearest and dearest. Even if such a disciple is far away, if he is continuously following the orders of his guru and fully accepting and embracing the instructions of his guru in his heart, then all spiritual realization and understanding will come to him. Śrīla Gurudeva will make a beautiful kuñja-kuṭīra in the heart of that disciple, where together they will continuously serve Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Vinoda Bihārī, Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Ramaṇa Bihārī, Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Rāsabihārī, Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Kuñjabihārī. Śrī Gurupāda-padma will give that disciple the strong desire to serve, and will connect him with the eternal līlā-śakti. And by Śrī Gurupāda-padma’s mercy, such disciples will next also be able to distribute these things to others, for they will have access to their guru’s storage of unlimited mercy. They don’t own anything independently. They don’t give mercy independently. They are guru-dāsa. This is their identity. They are guru-sevaka, the followers of their guru’s footsteps. They are dāsānudāsa, the servant of the servant.
Śrīla Gurudeva Is Always with Us
Śrīla Gurudeva explained many times that both when he was physically present and now, after his disappearance from our material vision, it is he himself who is distributing mercy to his own followers and disciples. It is he who is giving spiritual realization. This is his causeless mercy. From the eternal world, he is all the time distributing and giving his mercy, by love, heart to heart. Without this love, everything in this world is useless. Mundane love has some condition, but Śrīla Gurudeva’s love does not. And if someone who is distributing the love that he receives from Śrīla Gurudeva to others as well, then more and more of that love will come to him from Śrīla Gurudeva’s unlimited storage of love. This love will be his only property.
Śrī Gurupāda-padma is always thinking how he can find and collect more jīvas. He will test them, give them realization, and engage them in their eternal service to God. Then they will be forever connected. It is for this purpose that Śrīla Gurudeva himself appears here today and gives us his darśana. If we will drink this nectar, drop by drop, then again and again we will be connected to Śrī Gurupāda-padma, and we will be able to develop a strong relationship with him.
Śrīla Gurudeva is bhakta-bandhāva, he is the friend of all, at all times, in the past, present, and future. We should therefore all take shelter at his lotus feet. He is our all-in-all, our everything. If we do not understand these things, we are very unlucky. Truth will always be present in this world. It automatically appears, whereas imitation, imagination, and speculation will not last a long time. Those things are not helpful. Therefore, we should have no doubt. We should pray to the lotus feet of Śrīla Gurudeva, that he may accept us and distribute his mercy to us. This should be our continuous request to him.
Excerpted from the Bhakta Bandhav Publication “Śrī Guru-darśana As It Is”, Chapter 13
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