Hari-katha inspired by the Guru-varga
We are protected by the Vaisnavas and by Guru-pada-padma. Under their guidance, we have performed the four-month vow of Caturmasya. Caturmasya, Damodara-vrata, Kartika-vrata, and Niyam-seva—these vratas come every year. After we follow them, we should look at the results. How much have we progressed in bhakti? Have we become closer to Guru-pada-padma or not? Are we more inclined to perform harinama and sankirtana or not? Are we following the principles of Vaisnavism or not? Have we developed love and affection for God’s family? Do we have time for our Guru-pada-padma? Do we engage in harinama and hari-kirtana, hari-katha, and hari-seva? Are we progressing in our spiritual culture?
As he was leaving this world, Srila Prabhupada Sarasvati Thakura instructed Bhakti Raksaka Sridhara Maharaja to sing:
sri-rupa-manjari-pada, sei mora sampada,
sei mora bhajana-pujana
How can we become close to Srila Rupa Gosvami? He is the follower of Sriman Mahaprabhu’s manobhistha. He is the heart and soul of the Gaudiyas. In his Hindi commentaries, Srila Gurudeva wrote in his introductory words that the essence of our sadhana is to attain manjari-bhava.
When Srila Gurudeva was present in Mathura, Param Gurudeva would go there to stay with Gurudeva for one or two months of Caturmasya. One day, he came during Kartika, and he saw that Srila Gurudeva had a large library. A disciple of Srila Prabhupada Sarasvati Thakura named Mukunda Vinoda Babaji Maharaja from Bihar came to Mathura.
After the disappearance of Prabhupada, Mukunda Vinoda Babaji Maharaja stayed in Bihar and collected all the granthas of Srila Prabhupada and the Gosvamis. Prabhupada told him, “If you have the books of the Gosvamis, then the Gosvamis will be with you. Then you will not look at other things. From morning to evening you will read the granthas of the Gosvamis, and you will offer them respect and be nearby them.
This Babaji Maharaja, when he was very aged, brought his collection of books in a truck to Srila Gurudeva in Kesavaji Gaudiya Matha. When he put these books in the truck, his disciples asked, “What will you do with these books?”
Babaji Maharaja said, “You are not the followers of the Gosvamis. You are not qualified for these books. You are the followers of your senses. You want to also engage me in satisfying your senses. I am arranging food and shelter for your senses, but you do not desire anything spiritual. You are only attached to your room, food, and sleep, and you engage me in your service. You drink my blood. Therefore the Gosvamis do not want to stay with you.”
He brought all these books to Kesavaji Gaudiya Matha in Mathura. The driver drove through the day and night. Then, Mukunda Vinoda Babaji Maharaja knocked at the gate of the temple at four o’clock in the morning. Gurudeva woke for mangala-arti and saw that the old Babaji Maharaja was there at the gate of the temple with a truck full of books. Srila Gurudeva welcomed him inside the temple.
Whenever Srila Gurudeva met a disciple of Sarasvati Thakura, he respected him equally to his own Gurudeva, and he served him nicely. I saw how Gurudeva served the disciples of Prabhupada. Performing such service is not possible for ordinary people. He would give his own bed and blankets to them. He would not sleep at night in the winter because he had no blankets because he had given them all to the sadhus who had come. Srila Gurudeva gave his own room because at that time there were very few rooms.
Gurudeva served Babaji Maharaja and then brought the books into the temple. At that time the temple hall was only half, and the back half was Param Gurudeva’s bhajana-kutira. Gurudeva kept these books in Param Gurudeva’s bhajana-kutira. At that time, they did not have a cupboard to keep them in.
When Param Gurudeva heard about the books having come, he came to Mathura. He said, “Oh Maharaja, the Gosvamis have now come to you. They are very kind, and have given their blessings upon you.”
Srila Gurudeva replied, “Because you are present, Gurudeva, all the Gosvamis are present as well.”
Param Gurudeva said, “Now, you are really related with all our parampara.” He then arranged wooden cupboards to keep the books in.
Before he departed from Mathura, Param Gurudeva said to Srila Gurudeva, “Maharaja, will you lend me one book? I will go to Navadvipa and read it.”
“Oh Gurudeva, I am yours, and these book are yours. Everything is yours.”
“No,” Param Gurudeva replied, “the Gosvamis have so much love for you. If I take without your permission, the Gosvamis will not be happy with me.”
Is Param Gurudeva following his own disciple now? If guru does not follow the principles of spiritual life himself, then how will his disciples follow? Just see how humble the Guru-varga are. You cannot understand this. When the guru offers respect to the junior, the junior should not think that he is great. This is not proper. The junior should realize the humility of the Guru-varga, and try to emulate that humility in his own life.
Later Param Gurudeva instructed Srila Gurudeva. He said, “The Gosvamis have come in the form of their granthas. They want you to serve them.”
Gurudeva understood. For one month Param Gurudeva read all the books day and night. When you look at these books, you can see his hand-written marks. He read all these books, and then Srila Gurudeva gave classes on these books and began to translate them with purports, one after the other. Srila Gurudeva,s commentary is his vani-vaibhava. There is a vapu-vaibhava and a vani-vaibhava. These granthas are the form of Srila Gurudeva present with us now.
In the Srimad-Bhagavatam, Srila Sukadeva Gosvami says:
dharmah svanusthitah pumsam
notpadayed yadi ratim
-ama eva hi kevalam
—Srimad Bhagavatam 1.2.8
You may do everything, but if you have no taste for hearing the glories of Krsna and the Vraja-devis as explained in scripture, then all your efforts for spiritual life are useless. Then, you are not the real follower of dharma. Dharma is being followed when a person has increased his desire to hear hari-katha. His taste increases more and more.
Srila Gurudeva gave classes on all these books, and wrote purports on them. He has saved these books with us as a gift for all of us and for all mankind. If we do not read these books, if we do not respect and serve them, if we do not follow the teachings in these books, then we are ungrateful wretches and we are very far away from Srila Gurudeva and God.
What do we do after these vratas are over? Why do we perform these vratas? You should understand your aim and object very seriously. At the end of Kartika-vrata, Srila Gurudeva would read the Upadesavalis of Param Gurudeva and Srila Prabhupada Sarasvati Thakura and of Srila Ramanuja Acarya.
Srila Gurudeva himself wrote eighteen instructions for all devotees. These were never published. Sripad Vrajanatha Prabhu and Sripad Madhava Maharaja were with Srila Gurudeva in Delhi, when Srila Gurudeva wrote down these instructions in 1996 before going to the west. There are so many scriptures and so many instructions, but Srila Gurudeva himself wrote the essence of sastra and gave it to us. These instructions are now available on the internet. Everyone can now see what Srila Gurudeva has written in his own handwriting. This is written by Srila Gurudeva for all of his followers, in the present and in the future. We should try to understand Gurudeva’s desire. What is his manobhista-seva? Otherwise, if we only dance, eat, collect, and do not perform guru-seva, then the Gosvamis will not be happy with us.
How can we enter Vraja-dhama? How can we serve under the guidance of the Vraja-devis? How will they be pleased with us? We must follow the instructions of Srila Gurudeva.
Raghunatha dasa Gosvami came to Mahaprabhu and said, “O Prabhu, why have you brought me to Your feet? You have not instructed me. Please, give me some instructions.”
Mahaprabhu said, “No. Take shelter of Svarupa Damodara. He will tell you what to do.”
Raghunatha said, “Oh Prabhu, please tell me something so that I can follow it in my life.”
Mahaprabhu then gave him a short instruction. He said, “If you have faith in Me, then I will tell you something. If you have no faith in Me, you will not follow whatever I tell you. And if you disobey My instructions, then you will lose your life.”
Raghunatha Gosvami said, “Oh Mahaprabhu, please give me the strength to follow Your instructions.”
Mahaprabhu then gave him some brief instructions.
Similarly, Srila Gurudeva, Param Gurudeva, Srila Prabhupada, and the Guru-varga all give us essential instructions to follow in our lives. They have relation with Vraja-bhumi, the Vrajavasis, the Vraja-devis and they know what is good for their followers.
Such instructions are given by Srila Gurudeva. He followed these, one after the other, in his life. Then, he saved them in an essential form for us.
We pray to Damodara. All the Vrajavasis are with Damodara. Guru-pada-padma has brought us to Lord Damodara and to Vraja-bhumi and to the Vrajavasis and to the Vaisnavas. Guru-pada-padma has made us related to them. Therefore, all our vrata, japa, and tapa are for the pleasure of Srila Gurudeva. How will Gurudeva be happy? He will be happy if we follow his instructions. If we cannot follow everything, then we should follow something.
Vrajanatha Prabhu has explained that Gurudeva told us, “Chant 64 rounds every day. But, if you cannot do that chant 32 rounds. Chant every day very seriously. If you cannot chant that much, chant 25 rounds every day. If you cannot chant that many rounds, then jump inside the ocean.”
After hearing this lecture of Gurudeva, many devotees sent me e-mails. They said, “What should we do? Should we commit suicide by jumping in the ocean? Has Srila Gurudeva really instructed us to do that?”
I said, “Do suicide of your material desires. If you commit suicide with your body, then this is not everything. Your soul cannot commit suicide. So you should throw your material desires and anarthas into the ocean. Bathe in the tirthas, and pray, ‘Please, help me renounce all my material desires.’ Then the holy tirthas will wash away all your desires, and when you are clean, you can really follow the instructions of Srila Gurudeva. Strength will come to those who follow.”
A person who is very sick will get cured in a hospital. Srila Gurudeva said to jump in the ocean. Go to the holy places and rivers. Bathe there and then help will come.
When Srila Gurudeva would go to Puri, he would always bathe in the ocean. I heard that Srila Gurudeva would also bathe in the ocean when he was in the West. People bathe in bathrooms, but Srila Gurudeva would bathe in the pure ocean.
So Gurudeva said, “Go. Jump in the ocean.” What does that mean? If you leave your body, will you attain krsna-prema? No. Take shelter of the ocean who is tirtha-pati. Ganga, Yamuna, Godavari, Kaveri, Narmada, Sindhu—all these holy rivers enter the ocean. All the holy tirthas come to the ocean.
Varuna-deva as the god of the ocean has been given instruction to take the treasures from the rivers and divide them inside the ocean. He keeps gold in one place, silver in another place, and jewels in yet another place. People enter the ocean, and take these treasures to do business. The ocean has power to collect these things.
We have so many anarthas. How can we remove these, and become clean? Srila Gurudeva tells us to chant and pray to the oceans and all the tirthas. They have open hearts. They have an unlimited reserve of water. Similarly, go to the mahan-vaisnavas, to the Guru-varga. They are like oceans of mercy. Pray to them, and then taste will come by their mercy. Pure Vaisnavas have hearts like the ocean. If you go to them, and jump in the ocean of their mercy, what will they give you? They will give you taste for chanting harinama.
The brahmacaris perform kirtana in the morning and evening, they chant harinam, and do seva. When new people come here, they come to this ocean, and change. New people come and say, “I eat meat.”
I say, “Don’t worry. Take prasadam, sit with the Vaisnavas, hear hari-katha, sit in kirtana, and serve the Vaisnavas. Then, this flow of the ocean of these devotees performance of sadhana will come into you.”
Brahma-dravatvam apagacchati nira-dharmaih. Drink the water of the Ganga. Your body is thirsty, but your soul is also thirsty. When you are thirsty, you drink water, which is rasa, and you become quenched. But, when you bathe, your body also absorbs this rasa.
We come to Srila Gurudeva, and Gurudeva gives us nectar to drink. But, our physical bodies disturb us. Our mind and senses disturb us. Where can we go for shelter? Go to the association of the Vaisnavas, and shower in their mercy. Bathe in the ocean of their association.
In the rainy season, there is water everywhere, even in the air. No place remains dry in the rainy season. Gurudeva gives the following example. If you go to a riverbank or the ocean shore in the early morning, there is so much pure oxygen there. Also, if you go to a garden or park, there is so much fresh oxygen there. You will become nourished by that. You will get so much strength there in the morning.
Similarly, come to the Vaisnavas, for hari-rasa is present with them. This is present like moisture in the air. Hari-rasa-madira-madadi-matta—they are always drinking hari-rasa, and they become maddened and intoxicated with this hari-rasa. They do not think about buildings, their body, recreation, or anything of this world. They only drink and serve hari-rasa. This hari-rasa floods from their hearts. If you go there, you can jump in this hari-rasa, and then you will never want to come out. You will drown in this hari-rasa, and when your life goes, you will get and new life. Our bodies and minds are now absorbed in many material things. By jumping in this ocean of hari-rasa in the association of Vaisnavas, then we get a new life. Before, we were so attached to our hair. People color their hair in different colors and they keep long hair, but when they come here, they shave their hair off. They have no more love for their hair. They have no more love for their suits, boots, and ties. This is because they have jumped in the ocean of hari-rasa. First, they give a seat to Srila Gurudeva, they offer pranama to Srila Gurudeva and all the maha-bhagavata Vaisnavas, and they chant in front of them. That ocean is helpful.
We are so fortunate to have the instructions of Srila Gurudeva. They are now published on the internet. Everybody can see what Srila Gurudeva has written. Srila Gurudeva’s instructions are so valuable.
Today, Damodarastakam and Damodara lila will be completed. Vrajanatha Prabhu has explained that when Nanda Baba untied the rope, Damodara was still bound. How? Tonight during rasa-lila, the gopis bind Krsna to Radharani. On Saradiya Purnima, when Krsna disappeared, they suffered so much. This evening, Krsna calls the gopis, and when they come they take flowers and decorate Krsna’s whole body with them. They then take the corner of Radharani’s sari, and tie it to Krsna’s waist. They bind Him to Radharani, and say, “How will you leave now?” All the asta-sakhis and asta-manjaris stand in circles around Radharani and Krsna.
We see this in Srila Svami Maharaja’s temple in Mayapura. The asta-sakhis are present on either side of Radha-Madhava. Jiva Gosvami Prabhu instructs us to worship Radha-Damodara, and not Yasoda-Damodara. Yasoda-Damodara was unbound by Nanda Baba, but no one can open the bond that ties Krsna to Radharani. Sometimes, He would take Srimati Radharani and run away, but now this is not possible. He is always present there with the asta-sakhis and manjaris.
Bring Radha-Govinda, Radha-Gopinatha, Radha-Kanta, Radha-Vallabha, Radha-Vinoda Bihari, Radha-Ramana Bihari—bring them all in your heart. Make a place for them in your heart. Make relationship with them, Krsna is the same, but there are different moods according to different groups, or yuthas.
Pray to Srila Gurudeva, “How can I be engaged in your eternal service? In which group will I serve?”
Many people say, “Why are there so many groups here? One group is in Seva-kunja, one group is somewhere else, and so forth.” Don’t think that this is something new. This is always going on. Amongst the sakhis of Radharani, there are so many groups for those who are svajatiya. But the groups do not compete and fight each other. They have harmony between them.
Svami Maharajaji opened centers, and did not give them the name Gaudiya or Gaudiya Matha. He gave the name of his society as the Antar-rastriya Krsna-bhavanamrta Sanga, translated as the International Society for Krsna Consciousness. Who has this krsna-bhavanamrta? Radharani and the gopis have bhavanamrta for Krsna. This is more than Gaudiya. Gaudiya means the followers of Gauri. ‘Gauri’ is Srimati Radharani, and ‘iya’ means Her followers. Is Svami Maharaja’s group different? No, but there is a specialty. His own group is separate, but it is still in the family of Radharani. They all act under the guidance of Radharani to please Krsna.
How can we realize and attain our permanent residence in Vraja? How can we be present in our service? This is svarupa-siddha-vraja-seva. At the time of svarupa-siddhi, we must attain vastu-siddhi. We have no knowledge how to attain vastu-siddhi and svarupa-siddhi. How can we be with the Vaisnavas and the Guru-varga? How can we be with Guru-pada-padma and the Gosvamis? We must find this method. Alone, we are orphans, and will be cheated by Maya-devi. She has many gifts, and we will collect these and run away. At every step, we will be punished. There will be no sweetness. No one will sweetly speak to us and take care of us. But, as a disciple of follower of Srila Gurudeva, wherever you go in this world, the followers of Guru-pada-padma will take care of you. They will not neglect you. Why? If you remember Gurudeva’s name alone, then that is enough for your life. You can chant harinama, but harinama will not come. If you chant Gurudeva’s name, then harinama will come running to you.
Srila Gurudeva has taught us in Mathura, “If you try to chant harinama, you will forget harinama. You will chant ‘Hare Krsna’ once and then you will go somewhere else with your mala in your hand. Just remember Gurudeva who is always chanting harinama.”
Once, when Mahaprabhu went to the field go for toilet, He held on to His tongue with one hand. Gopala, a small boy, carried Mahaprabhu’s kamandalu. He asked, “Prabhu, why are You holding Your tongue?”
The Lord replied, “I am now going to an impure place, but this tongue does not want to stop chanting harinama. I tell him to stop, but he continues dancing and chanting. He has no taste for anything else. He only drinks this nama rasa, so I must hold My tongue.”
Gopala said, “Prabhu, if someone is leaving his body, and passes stool and urine uncontrollably, should he not chant harinama? Should he think of something else?”
“Oh Gopala,” Mahaprabhu said. “Now you are guru. You are My adviser. What you say is true.”
Srila Gurudva told us in Mathura, “You can chant harinama, guru-mantra, gayatri, etc., but if you are alone, then the soldiers of Maya will catch you and squeeze the life out of you. They will make you like dry straw and will throw you out on the side of the street to burn. Therefore, chant Gurudeva’s name.”
Remember Gurudeva. Gurudeva is chanting harinama. You will be chanting nama with Gurudeva. Gurudeva is described in guru-gayatri: krsnanandaya dhimahi. He always gives ananda to Krsna. This is sevananda. So we meditate on this sevananda. What is this ananda? This is cidananda. Krsna is cidananda-svarupa, the abode of this transcendental bliss. Gurudeva is always engaged in that Lord of transcendental bliss.
In your life, practice following the instructions of Guru-pada-padma. There is no need to follow other things. You may run here and there. People may give you protein injections, enabling you to dance with great strength. This strength however is not natural, and only a short while later you will collapse. Seek what is natural and original. You may go here and there, and you may get blessings. You may give charity and do so many things, but none of this is permanent. Permanent help is only present with Guru-pada-padma. Why?
Vaisnavas have always been present. Also, Rama, Krsna, Parasurama, and all the incarnations carried out Their pastimes in the past, while we existed somewhere. Mahaprabhu’s pastimes and movement were also going on. But at such times, no one took care of us. No one pulled us out of Maya. No one brought us to them and to the dhama. Guru-pada-padma is very kind, and has accepted us. Before we received his grace, no one helped us conditioned living entities moving about among the 84 lakhs of species of life. Our material lilas go on in different brahmandas but who pulls us out of this mundane lila? Gurudeva kindly picked us up out of Maya and brought us near to him. He took care of us and cleaned our anarthas. He took us in his lap and carried us on his shoulders. He carried us, as well as our mind, senses, and everything and he brought us to Vraja. He brought our soul to serve the Supreme Soul, Krsna.
If we do not feel gratitude to Guru-pada-padma, then we will lose everything. So our Kartik-vrata, Urja-vrata, Niyama-seva, and everything is only one-pointed to Guru-pada-padma. Remembering his kindness and mercy, we do everything for his happiness. If we are like this, then we are lucky. Only eating rasagulla, malpua, jilebi, halava, kacori, and rabadi will not do.
Mukunda Vinoda dasa Babaja said, “You are not my disciples. You are not worthy to receive these books. You have come to me, but you are the disciples of halava and barphi.”
Once Srila Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja, here in Vrndavana, told us that he had a disciple whom he would daily feed 250 grams of barphi. “He becomes very happy,” Srila Svami Maharaja said, “If I don’t give him this barphi, he does not engage in so much service.”
Once, a disciple of Param Gurudeva said, “At night, I hardly need to eat anything Gurudeva. Just give me 250 grams of milk at night, and I will eat once in the afternoon.” Hearing this statement from his disciple, Param Guredeva called the other devotees and told them, “For the rest of this person’s life, never give him one drop of milk. Otherwise, he will be the disciple of milk; not my disciple. His life will be spoiled if he is the disciple of his own desires.”
How can we come to the Guru-varga? How can we be the disciple of Gurudeva and not our mind and sense? Mukunda Vinoda Babaji Maharaja therefore told Srila Gurudeva, “Maharaja, I have many halava disciples, as will as many dal-puri and kacori disciples. I have no true disciples of my own. For this reason, I give these books to you.”
Gurudeva printed so many books for us. He worked so hard for our sake. He left India and went to the Western countries only to give us this hari-katha. He would work fourteen or fifteen hours writing and translating. In Mathura, he would come back and tell us, “I work so hard everywhere I go. I cannot carry the burden of it all. My eyes stop working but my hand writes on.”
He would often tell Madhava Maharaja, “Get me a pen and paper.”
“You should rest a little,” Madhava Maharaja would say.
Why did he do this? It was for us. He knew that in the future, his children will need this to continue on. Therefore, when we take shelter Gurudeva’s books and purports, then we see that Gurudeva is with us. How can we understand this? Try again and again.
I never had the chance to sit and read books. Sometimes, I would not even attend class. In the early days, when there were only a few people, I was always there; two or three times a day. Later on, however, I was so busy. I would not sit in class. Now I open the books and offer pranama to Gurudeva. Then whatever inspiration he gives, I repeat. This is all I know.
Guru’s family is compared to a body with fingers, nails, legs, toes, and so on. This is the body. The parts are different but they comprise the one body. Similarly, all of Gurudeva’s disciples and followers are of the same family.
What does guru-seva mean? If we only serve Gurudeva, but have no relation to his family, then we are not doing guru-seva. If we disrespect his family members; if we neglect or show hatred to them, then how can we ever perform guru-seva? The followers of Guru-pada-padma have love for Gurudeva and they are Gurudeva’s family. We must respect them. If we have anything we must serve them. Nothing is impossible. We always have a means to serve them. By doing this service, Gurudeva will be so pleased with us.
If someone has left bhakti and gone away from Gurudeva—if you can bring that person back—how pleased Gurudeva will be. Many disciples of Srila Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja became hopeless after he left. Gurudeva brought them back. Also, when Prabhupada Sarasvati Thakura left, Param Gurudeva did the same, going door to door and begging them to come back. A shower of blessings comes to you if you can help any of your godbrothers and godsisters like this. If people are going away from bhakti and Gurudeva and running here and there then you should try to bring them back into the line of bhakti. This is service to Guru-pada-padma. This is guru-seva.
I saw that after the disappearance of Gaura Govinda Maharaja many of his disciples were scattered here and there. Some went to Vrndavana, some to the West. Some left their brahmana threads, and some went to the babajis. Gurudeva collected them. They came to Mathura and took shelter of Gurudeva. Gurudeva re-inspired them to follow their own Guru Maharaja. He deepened their connection to him. Oh, how pleased Srila Gaura Govinda Maharaja became!
We must help the conditioned souls, but do not think, “I am great. I am so wealthy. I am helping everyone.” Do not, in the name of serving others, welcome service to yourself. Do not be proud and think that everyone should follow you.
If you help others, they will soon feel genuinely grateful. They will one day understand who their real friend and relative is. Don’t be hopeless. Help each other. Help your godbrothers and godsisters. There are also people with no idea of bhakti, but they are also in God’s family. They are also God’s parts and parcels.
In Bombay, Radhanatha Svami tells his newly initiated disciples, “Yearly bring me ten new people. This is your guru-daksina.”
If you just take your mala and books and chant and read in your room, this is not guru-seva. Some people quote scripture, saying, “Jivana sarthaka kori koro para-upakara—first make your life successful and then help others.” But how will you make your life successful and have realization if you do not serve others and follow this rule? How will God bless you and how will Gurudeva bless you? How can you make your life successful if you do not help others?
Today, Damodara-vrata is complete. Respect Guru-pada-padma and all Vaisnavas. At the end of this vrata, Srila Gurudeva would tell me, “Do pranama to all Vaisnavas, and give them a gift.”
“What should I give them?”
“There are many things in my room. Take those things.”
“If I take those things, your sevakas will fight with me.”
“Don’t worry. They can fight after, but first give charity. Give everything to all the Vaisnavas.”
Many people would give Srila Gurudava gifts. Gurudeva would instruct me to collect those things and give them to the Vaisnavas. He said, “Don’t worry about anything. The Vaisnavas have come. We must serve them.”
Often, he would secretly arrange blankets or other gifts for the Vaisnavas and distribute them on this day. Many times, we distributed blankets, cadars, shirts, and many things.
After Navadvipa he would call everybody and tell the bandhari, Madhusudana Maharaja, who was at that time called Krsna-krpa Prabhu, “The grhastha bhaktas and the brahmacaris alike have worked so hard. Look, they have no gamchas or good cloth. Buy some cloth and give it to everyone.” He would say this, but actually he would make the arrangements himself.
We may see these gifts as t-shirts and gamchas, but in actuality the love of Gurudeva is present in that cloth. If we wear that cloth, Maya cannot touch us.
Uddhava said to Krsna, “Prabhu, I receive Your prasadi cloth and ornaments. If I use this, Maya can never touch me. Now that You are going, what will I do?”
Every year, after both Vraja-mandala and Navadvipa Parikrama, Gurudeva would tell me to give something to all the dovetees. “So many devotees have come,” he would say. “Give them gifts.” We would give the ladies matching saris on the day of annakuta and everyone would go on procession to Giriraja. The ladies were in matching bright colors; the brahmacaris had fresh new cloth; everyone carried the baskets and pots of Giriraja’s bhoga on their heads through the town of Govardhana. Srila Gurudeva would become so happy to see this. I cannot forget this. It reminds me of how Krsna decorated all the Vraja-vasis and brought them together for the festival of annakut. In a similar way, Srila Gurudeva arranged these festivals every year. How could I have arranged these festivals? I have nothing. Everything is Gurudeva’s. People from all over the world came by the thousands, but Gurudeva arranged everything, and we were never hopeless. Srila Gurudeva decorated everyone with bhakti.
Now we do not want to serve the Vaisnavas. Will this make Gurudeva happy? Will it please him if we do not give his family members prasada, but instead kick them out from the temple? Would a father ever deny his son food? Grhasthas work so hard and then they come to the dhama. We are tyagis, but all we say to them is, “Give me money if you want to come here.” Are they our god-brothers and god-sisters or not? Would we take money from our own family for food?
When I was in Mathura, Srila Gurudeva would tell me, “First give the guests prasada, then give the brahmacaris. Give everyone, whether they are mayavadis, jnanis, yogis, Ramanujis, or anyone. Give them prasada first; then the brahmacaris.”
Once, we were in Raj Mahendri, at the temple of Srila Puri Maharaja. Many mayavadis and Shaivaits live in Raj Mahendri. One afternoon many Shaivaits came for prasada after taking ganja and other intoxicants. They beat on the door and shouted for prasada. Gurudeva was there and Maharaja had gone outside of the temple. Gurudeva opened the door. Just before, he told me, “They have taken bong and ganja but that is not a problem. Give them caranamrta and maha-prasadam. They will all change. They take ganja prasada, but they never take tulsi-prasada. They are therefore very fortunate to have come today to the temple.”
We mixed the rice and dal that we had and made a kicari which we gave to them in leaf cups. Gurudeva then told them, “Chant Hare Krsna! Siva Thakura also chants Hare Krsna. Don’t only chant ‘om namo sivaya.’ Chant Haribol Haribol!”
All the Shaivaits began chanting with Srila Gurudeva. They thus received diksa. Whatever the maha-bhagavatas say—that is diksa. Whatever we say is a joke or a drama, but when the maha-bhagavatas speak or give advice, this is diksa. There is no need for anusthana, or external ceremony and pancaratrika-yajna.
From that day, those Shaivaits daily came to take prasada. After one week or so, they gave up their intoxicants, dread-locks, and everything and changed completely. They became followers of Srila Puri Maharaja.
The Guru-varga is very powerful. If we have no respect for the Guru-varga, or our god-brothers and god-sisters, then what shelter do we have? We will be like yaksas or raksasas. Gurudeva used to tell me, “Divide your chapati into four parts. Distribute three parts and take one part with some water.” In Mathura, we could only collect a small amount of flour and sabji, and we shared the small amount of prasada that yielded with everyone. For this reason, our life is still auspicious. Now that there is so much facility, I do not want anyone to be miserly. Do not be like a makhi-chus, someone who would suck on a fly if it took some of his honey.
bhunjate te tv agham papa
ye pacanty atma-karanat
Those who cook and eat for their own sake partake in sin. Paramatma is everywhere. Everyone has the right for maha-prasada, so distribute maha-prasada everywhere and then take the last portion. If you only cook for yourself then what you make is full of sin. There is poison in every bite of it that you take. Therefore, take maha-prasada.
We pray to Guru-pada-padma and hope to be able to serve him. We pray to the Vaisnavas that Gurudeva will accept our heartfelt payers. Otherwise, when our vrata is finished, if we become unbridled, without rules or regulations, then how can we progress? Follow all the principles established by Gurudeva and your life will be successful.
[CC-by-NDNC Bhakta Bandhav]