[Excerpt from Srila Gurudeva: Around the World, U.K. 1996 (Radlett, 22 May), the second book in a series of volumes on Srila Gurudeva’s world preaching tours.]
Srila Gurudeva: Sankara blessed Bhasmasura that, “If you put your hands on anyone, then he will be burnt to ashes at once.” So he became so pleased. He told Sankara, “I want to test this boon from here. I want to keep my hands on your head.”
Sankara became so worried and he ran away from there. He pursued him to keep his hand on Sankara’s head. He remembered Krsna. Krsna at once came in the form of a brahmacari. Bhasmasura ran behind Sankara and then he came across Krsna who had appeared in the form of a brahmacari.
Krsna asked, “Bhasmasura, why are you running?”
Bhasmasura replied, “Have you seen Sankaradeva here?”
“Yes I have seen.”
“Where has he gone?”
“I will let you know. But why are you pursuing him?”
“He has given me a benediction that if I keep my hands on anyone’s head, then that person will immediately burn to ashes.”
“O foolish one! Sankara’s boons never come true. He has not told anything. Why are you going to test him? Just put your hands on your head and you will realize his words are false.”
“Oh yes. I should put my hands on my head.”
And then, Bhasmasura kept his hands on his head. Thus, he was burnt to ashes at once. So, we see everywhere that Sankara is a Vaisnava. But those who worship him as a tamasika-devata (in the mode of ignorance) i.e. to gain anything worldly, then Sankara becomes opposite. Therefore, he always serves Krsna and Rama. In the forms of Gopisvara, Hanuman, and Bhima, Sankara himself serves. So, he is a most powerful Vaisnava. Our whole Vaisnava community considers him as a Guru. So, he should give us power to go to Radha-Krsna Themselves. Sankara is also there in Navadvipa as Vrddha-Siva. Yogamaya is also there. So we should try and follow Rupa Gosvami, Jiva Gosvami, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, and Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati. He was a very, very renowned astrologer. That is why he was given the name, “Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati.” The prefix—bhakti was added later. But the title, “Siddhanta Sarasvati,” was only given in the field of astrology. And a chair of honor that testified to his super excellence in states like Bengal, Bihar, and Orissa was also given to him in his honor. There was only one University. There was a chair of honor for astrologists in that University. So, Asutosha Mukherjee was the Vice-chancellor at that time.
He told Prabhupada, “This chair is only for you. You should accept or it will be empty.”
Prabhupada replied, “I have not come to count the stars in the sky. I have only come to make people favorable to Krsna and make them engage in His service. I don’t want this chair.”
Prabhupada made a calendar; we follow that calendar. He has done so many things. He has written so many books. So, you can follow what Prabhupada has said. You can do astrology, no harm. But you should give more power. If you like, you can keep Tulasi here. And for any reason, you can keep one or two beads of Rudraksa here. But you must always keep Tulasi here.
Devotee: Maharaja, I am chanting the mantra.
Srila Gurudeva: Of Sankara?
Devotee: Yes. So far, I am chanting the vigraha mantras.
Srila Gurudeva: You can chant the mantras separately. You must not chant them with Hare Krsna or your Guru-mantra. You can chant the mantras separately. Do we do something for liberation? So it is like this. Thus, you must do all these things prominently. You can bind one here. If you want big, big Tulasi will be given to you. You will see that you are advancing more in this line also. By keeping Tulasi, you will advance in astrology also. You can then count and then, do astrology in Goloka Vrndavana like Garga.
“I want to be like Garga.”
There was no astrologer like Garga Rsi in any part of this sphere. He has written Garga Samhita and other books about astrology. Do you know who he was? He was the priest of Vasudeva Maharaja and Nanda Maharaja. He was the priest of Krsna also. So we should follow Gargacarya. He came to Nanda’s house and he read the palms of Krsna and Baladeva. This is written in the Srimad Bhagavatam. There, it has been told that Garga was the best astrologer in the whole world. So we should follow him. And, I will give power by which you can go to Goloka Vrndavana. There, you can be Gargacarya’s son or his disciple. And, you should always go to Krsna’s house, Vasudeva’s house, and Nanda’s house to read the palms of Krsna and Baladeva. You should serve there. There are so many duties of an astrologer there. So you should do astrology; no harm. But you must adopt all the rules and regulations of this line. You must reject the unfavorable. So, what is favorable for both—astrology and bhakti? So we can do everything. We are not against. My Gurudeva was also a very good astrologer. Srila Prabhupada was also a very good astrologer. I know that all our Acaryas were astrologers also.
Devotee: Are you an astrologer also?
Srila Gurudeva: I don’t know. I only want bhakti. I don’t want all forms of bhakti. I only want bhakti towards Srimati Radhika. Sometimes, Srimati Radhika will call you and say, “See My hands and tell Me when I will get Krsna?” She will call you if you come in my line. And She will give so many rewards to you. I am really telling you. If you want to meet Krsna, then learn something on how to control servants by astrology. The gopis will give their golden anklets and everything to astrologers. They tell the astrologer, “Help us to chant certain mantras so that snakes will not bite us. Then there is no harm even if we keep our feet on them because they are controlled.” This is written in the Govinda-lilamritam. When they go to astrologers and receive mantras. They recite these mantras and control all. Thus, they meet Krsna.
[CC-by-NDNC Bhakta Bandhav]