Hari-katha Articles Dhama-darsana and Recollections of Matha-life

Dhama-darsana and Recollections of Matha-life

[Hari-katha inspired by the Guru-varga]

Srila Gurudeva would say that when you come for Vraja-mandala Parikrama, then you should take bath in Visranti-tirtha first. Srila Gurudeva would describe how one should take a bath there. You should not take a bath like animals. Firstly, you should go to Visranti-tirtha and do pranama to Yamuna and to the ghata there. You should pray that you will not commit any offenses. Gurudeva said that Pundarika Vidyanidhi would not go to the Ganga during the day. He would go during the night. Why? During the day, people wash their feet, smoke, drink alcohol, cover their bodies with soap and throw their filth in the Ganga. By seeing this, the transcendental nature of the dhama will not be understood. Our consciousness will become like theirs. We will also see the Ganga and Yamuna as they do. Therefore, Pundarika Vidyanidhi would not go to the Ganga in the day. He would go during the night when no one was there, and he would offer his obeisances from a distance. He would offer stava-stutis and he would pray to the Guruvarga that “May I not commit any offenses to the Ganga and Yamuna.” Caitanya Mahaprabhu would go to the Ganga every day.

One day, Mahaprabhu told Saci Mata, “Mother, quickly give Me flowers, bhoga, mala, and sandalwood paste.”

Saci Mata replied, “Okay. Sit down and I will prepare the paraphernalia.”

“Why are you delaying? You have time for everything; but you don’t have time for this.”

Mahaprabhu then took a stick and broke everything in the house. He broke pots of oil, ghee, and dal. Breaking everything, Mahaprabhu then finally started swinging at the mud. Mahaprabhu did not become calm and then, He started rolling on the earth. His body was scratched. Mahaprabhu then fell fast asleep and forgot everything. When He awoke, Saci Mata had everything ready.

She told her son, “My dear son, everything is ready. Now go and worship and take a bath in the Ganga.”

Mahaprabhu silently went and bathed in the Ganga. Saci Mata saw how everything in the house was broken. But, she quickly made something for Mahaprabhu and offered bhoga. When Mahaprabhu was taking prasada, Saci Mata asked, “Son, why did You break everything? You got everything Yourself and You broke everything Yourself. What could I do?”

Mahaprabhu became shy and collected some gold coins and gave them to His mother. Saci Mata went to the shops of many jewelers and asked, “Do these gold coins belong to you?” But all the owners said no.

Saci Mata thought, “Where does Nimai bring these gold coins from? Gold is not fragrant, but these golden coins are fragrant. The jewelers are ready to pay so much in return for these coins.”

Mahaprabhu had so much faith in the Ganga; He would take bath in her waters every day. In this way, Pundarika Vidyanidhi and Mahaprabhu would take birth in the Ganga. How can you get Yamuna’s mercy? Will you get mercy by jumping into her waters or by washing your feet in her waters? How will you get any mercy if you don’t offer any prayers, worship, or anything? By bathing like this, a person will become a sudra or a pig in his next life. Or the person may become a buffalo, fish, or tortoise. Why?

gaur amara, ye-saba sthane,
koralo bhramana range
se-saba sthana, heribo ami,
pranayi-bhakata-sange

—Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura (Suddha bhakata carana renu)

We should go with the premi-bhaktas or else not. The premi-bhakta doesn’t care for worldly people. He will offer sastanga-pranama, he will pray to the Guru-varga, and he will pray that he will not commit any offenses. Why does our heart remain like a thunderbolt despite going to the Dhama? Why doesn’t our heart melt despite remaining with Guru-Vaisnavas? What is the reason? By associating with evil people, the heart is polluted. By going with a premi-bhakta like Pundarika Vidyanidhi, then how will you do acamana? You will not go to bathe your body. If you go to bathe for yourself, then you are being selfish. Firstly, you should do tarpana for Guru-Vaisnavas. You should give the water of the Yamuna to Guru Maharaja. You should offer the water to Guru Maharaja, Param Guru, Paratpara Guru, Paramesthi Guru, and to the Guru parampara. You should offer the water to everyone; even to Caitanya Mahaprabhu. You should also offer the water to Krsna, Radharani, Lalita, and to the Sakhis and Manjaris. Offering the water to them, you should then bathe. Then, you will obtain Yamunaji’s mercy and her shelter.

A person who only bathes for himself is like an elephant. An elephant takes a bath, but only emerges out and sprays itself with dirt and mud again. By bathing like this, all kinds of impurities will enter us. At that time, we cannot be clean? Why? A sinner takes a bath in the tirtha. But what does he do? He commits the same sin again. If one drop of a dye is put on a clean cloth, then the color will never go away. If a person does something wrong, then on being punished he will come to his senses. But if a good person does something wrong intentionally, then he may be awarded. How? If a person kills many people for his country, then the government will honor him. But if another person slaps another person or humiliates him, then he will be taken to the court and he will be imprisoned. If he kills someone, then he will be imprisoned for life. But another person gets an award for killing people. Do you understand this?

If a soldier kills thousands of soldiers of another country for his own country, then he will receive much honor. But if a dacoit kills everyone in a house, and is caught, then he will be in jail for his entire life. If a son kills his father, he will also go to jail for his entire life. But, the soldier receives an award for killing others. They performed the same actions externally. Similarly, when one person bathes in the holy rivers, he gets Bhagavat-prema, while another person is repeatedly punished for his actions even after bathing. Someone reads the Bhagavat and is ruined for the rest of his life, while another reads the Bhagavat and gets Krsna prema. So, Guruji would say that if a person commits an aparadha to the Dhama or to Guru-Vaisnavas, then he will never be forgiven. But, even if a person has done many wrongs; yet, if he prays for forgiveness from Guru-Vaisnavas, then he will be forgiven. But the other person doesn’t even desire to ask for forgiveness. He will not accept his fault. He will hide his fault.

A person goes to a house and asks, “What have you made?”

“I have made a spinach preparation.”

“But I just saw you cutting a fish.”

“No. I made a spinach preparation.”

“Oh you have covered the fish with spinach!”

Guruji would say, “You cannot cover fire with wood. You come to the tirtha, do parikrama and bathe there, but prema doesn’t arise in your heart. You don’t get bhakti-bhava and you don’t have faith in Guru-Vaisnavas. You also don’t have a service tendency. What is the meaning of this? Are you in the tirtha or anywhere else? Are you Jalada or Prahlada?”

Prahlada would chant harinama, and even when the demons tried killing him, nothing happened to him. But another person experiences much pain and is being burned to death. Similarly, a person comes to the tirtha, but if he doesn’t do parikrama under the guidance of Tirthesvara Sri Hari’s devotees, then his stay in the tirtha is fruitless. Hence, it is said:

gaur amara, ye-saba sthane,
koralo bhramana range
se-saba sthana, heribo ami,
pranayi-bhakata-sange

—Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura

tirtha-yatra parisrama, kevala manera bhrama

—Srila Narottama das Thakura

Therefore, Guruji would say, “What will you do bathing like this?” I would go to bathe in the Ganga and Yamuna every day. Or, I would go for mangala-arati darsana. I would go to the different temples. I would be undeterred even if there was a flood. One day, Guruji asked me, ‘Why are you going to bathe? Will the Yamuna deliver you?’ I was silent. I did not say anything. Guruji said, ‘Who will deliver you? Yamunaji or me?’ Therefore, always go and perform service, and go with Sadhu-Guru-Vaisnavas; even if you have to go to hell with them. But if you go independently, then you will be bound.”

But the conditioned soul doesn’t understand this. He thinks, “By going to the tirtha, I will be delivered because I will take darsana and bathe there.” But what will happen by bathing there? What will you see there? You don’t know what sraddha is and how bhakti will enter your heart. By going on parikrama alone, you will only see monkeys and other animals engaged in their affairs. You will see girls and boys talking to each other. You cannot avoid these sights even if you close your eyes or ears. Your consciousness will become like this. If this is not so, then why hasn’t prema-bhakti anuraga entered our hearts yet? Why hasn’t rasa entered our hearts yet? Therefore it is said:

bahu janma kare yadi sravana, kirtana
tabu ta’ na paya krsna-pade prema-dhana

—Sri Caitanya Caritamrita Adi 8.16

 

[If one is infested with the ten offenses in the chanting of the Hare Krsna maha-mantra, despite his endeavor to chant the holy name for many births, he will not get the love of Godhead that is the ultimate goal of this chanting.]

hena krsna-nama yadi laya bahu-bara
tabu yadi prema nahe, nahe asrudhara
tabe jani, aparadha tahate pracura
krsna-nama-bija tahe na kare ankura

—Sri Caitanya Caritamrita Adi 8.29-30

 

[If one chants the exalted holy name of the Lord again and again and yet his love for the Supreme Lord does not develop and tears do not appear in his eyes, it is evident that because of his offenses in chanting, the seed of the holy name of Krsna does not sprout.]

A conditioned soul may bathe in the Ganga or Yamuna every day, but what is the fruit? Lust, anger, and other anarthas are still existing and increasing. He still hankers for wealth, and prestige. These desires are always increasing. Why? Therefore, the Guru-varga remove all these thorns first. They strictly tell us, “Don’t go.” I stopped going after Gurudeva told me. I never went for many years. I would offer my obeisances from a distance. I would go on parikrama for Guru Maharaja. I would pray that he would remain in this world for many more years. I would pray for Maharaja’s health. We should not do parikrama for ourselves. But who will say this now? And who is ready to listen? If there is no one who can instruct us on this, then we will do what we want and we will make our way along the path to hell. We will not know the glories of the tirtha even after going there. Hence, it is said that you should learn to bathe in the right way.

For some days of the 1978 Vraja-mandala Parikrama, we stayed near Vimala Kunda. The water was so pure. There were many fish and tortoises also in the water. Srila Trivikrama Maharaja would swim and float on the water like Sesasayi Visnu. My Guru Maharaja would quickly bathe and emerge. He wouldn’t eat until everyone else came out. He had put on tilak and was waiting while Srila Trivikrama Maharaja and Srila Gurudeva were still swimming. They were racing with the other sannyasis like Sripad Visnu Maharaja of Assam, Sripad Vaisnava Maharaja, and others. The brahmacaris were relishing the fun. All the householders and everyone else were bathing in Vimala Kunda. It seemed that there were more devotees than fish. There was a race and Guru Maharaja said, “What are they doing?”

After some time, Srila Gurudeva emerged from the Kunda while Srila Trivikrama Maharaja was still swimming. Trivikrama Maharaja and Srila Gurudeva would tease each other and lovingly quarrel. Everyone would relish the fun and then, my Guru Maharaja would tell everyone to honor maha-prasada. One should not judge Guru and Vaisnavas in a worldly way.

acaryam mam vijaniyan
navamanyeta karhicit
na martya-buddhyasuyeta
sarva-deva-mayo guruh

—Srimad Bhagavatam 11.17.27

 

[One should know the acarya as Myself and never disrespect him in any way. One should not envy him, thinking him an ordinary man, for he is the representative of all the demigods.]

Guru-Vaisnavas were bathing and swimming in Vimala Kunda during that day of the 1978 Vraja-mandala Parikrama. If you look at them from a mundane perspective, then you will be ruined. One day, Gurudeva went to see some whales in the ocean when he was in Hawaii. When he went there, someone told me, “What need is there for Gurudeva to see whales?”

I replied, “Gurudeva has delivered lowly people like you. You are worse than the whales. You are more dangerous than the whales. Gurudeva has only gone there to deliver the whales and other animals. Being unfortunate the souls have taken birth there, but Gurudeva has mercifully gone there to give them his darsana and to deliver them. He has gone there to make them listen to harinama. If Gurudeva would not have come to the West, then what would have become of you? You will be destroyed if you doubt Gurudeva.”

And then, those who doubted Srila Gurudeva were ruined. Therefore, it is said:

yata dekha vaisnavera vyavahara-duhkha
niscaya janiha sei parananda-sukha

—Sri Caitanya Bhagavat Madhya-khanda 9.240

 

[Know for certain that whatever worldly distress is seen in a Vaisnava is actually spiritual happiness.]

visaya-madandha saba kichui na jane
vidya-made, dhana-made vaisnava na cine

—Sri Caitanya Bhagavat Madhya-khanda 9.241

 

[People blinded with pride over material enjoyment do not know anything. They cannot recognize a Vaisnava due to pride born of education and wealth.]

Srila Gurudeva said, “Vimala Kunda has given us shelter. Vimala Devi has given us her shelter. We should always bathe this body in this rasa. Even after obtaining many things of this material world, the body is always sad. Hence, by bathing in the Kundas, Sarovaras, Yamuna, and in other places of Vraja, and by offering abhiseka, every part of this body should become immersed in Krsna. When a flood comes, everything is filled with water. Water is in excess. But the trees and the houses don’t become water. Will you see Siya-Rama in all places? No. You will see that everything is related to Siya-Rama, while still maintaining its individual existence. Similarly, Bhagavad-Bhakti should be predominant. You should offer you pranama to everyone.”

Despite coming to the tirtha, one doesn’t get darsana of this Bhagavat-mahatmya and he is unable to offer any prayers; then who will give him the fruit of coming to the tirtha? Some people complain about the Dhama after seeing it in a mundane way. They see the dirt, ditches, and other things. But where are they really at? Hence, by going with the devotees, who have bhakti in their heart; then by their association, you will also enter the realm of bhakti. Or else bhakti will not be obtained. Therefore, whatever you do—do so under the guidance and association of devotees—or else everything will be in vain. A person experiences more difficulty when he dies from excessively eating. While dying, a hungry person experiences lesser pain. Therefore, even while going to the tirtha, one should behave accordingly by which his auspiciousness is assured. This is Siksa. If Guru-Vaisnavas did not instruct us on transcendental subjects, or if we are unable to understand their conceptions, or if we are not made to understand; then we will act inappropriately.

“Do or die, I will surely do this.”

“What will you do? Will you remove your hair and do so? What is your qualification? What qualification do you have in the spiritual world? You may offer your obeisances and do parikrama a thousand times, but what will you achieve? You will be unable to obtain that prema.”

A servant would do so much hard work. The master was happy, but the servant could not please the master as much as the master’s son did. The master’s son didn’t do anything; yet he was dearly loved by his father. His father gave him as much money as he desired. Can the servant be like this? So, until Guru-Vaisnavas think of you as their own, or until you have become theirs, then how can you be used as an instrument in their service?

You think, “I work so hard, but no one loves me.”

Why will they love you? To whom do you belong? Ask yourself, “Whom do I belong to? Am I Gurudeva’s? Do I belong to the Vaisnavas?” If you belong to the Vaisnavas, then it is their choice if they want to love you or not. You should become theirs. When the Vaisnavas see your sincere service tendency and degree of surrender, then they will automatically take you on their lap and have love and affection for you. You cannot demand love from them.

You cannot say, “Why don’t you love me?”

Once, a devotee came from Rupa-Sanatana Gaudiya Math, Vrndavana. When I was in the room after cooking, I was talking with someone. The devotee from Rupa-Sanatana sat for some time and then, exclaimed, “Why do I come to you? I am hungry for love. Why don’t you show me any affection? Why don’t you speak to me? Why have I come here?” He started shouting in front of everyone. When I started laughing, he said, “Why are you laughing? Why don’t you speak lovingly to me? My blood is boiling!”

I started to laugh more and the devotees also started to laugh. They said, “Has he become crazy?” The devotee was very upset because I was talking with everyone except him. So, can anyone make someone his servant forcibly? By making someone your servant, will you receive that person’s love? Therefore, Guruji said, “Until Dhama-svarupa—Baladeva Prabhu, Guru-Vaisnava, have not accepted you in their service; than even if you try a thousand times, the fruit will be zero. Nothing will be achieved because you are independent. Doing everything independently, you want to make Guru-Vaisnavas happy. You should serve according to their desire. They will be happy even if you serve a little. If Guru-Vaisnavas see that a person is trying to follow their advice despite being unable to do so, then they will encourage him.”

A person used to come to listen to hari-katha, but he would quickly fall asleep every day. Despite being chastised, he would still fall asleep. One day, he said, “Guruji, I will not come to hari-katha.”

“Why?”

“I always fall asleep and then, you chastise me. I cannot tolerate being chastised in front of everyone, so I will no longer come.”

“No. You must surely come to hari-katha even if you fall asleep.”

One day, the devotee thought, “I fall asleep every day. What should I do?” The devotee would start snoring as soon as hari-katha would begin. He would sleep in such a way that it seemed that he was unconscious. After many such days, he would sit at the end because no one would hear him snore when he was there. Although his eyes were open, he was still sleeping and snoring. One day, he said, “Guruji what can I do? I will not come anymore.”

“No you must come.”

One day, the devotee got some chili powder. He applied it on his eyes as soon as hari-katha began. As his eyes were burning, he bit his tongue. While his tongue became bloodied, he said, “Now I will see how I sleep.” Tears were flowing from his eyes and blood was emerging profusely from his tongue. His clothes became stained. Yet he said, “Now I shall see how I sleep.” He was very stubborn. After hari-katha ended, Guruji called him and put his hand on his head.

He told the devotee, “Now, you will no longer have trouble with sleep in your life. You will understand hari-katha now. Why? Not because you have punished your senses. You have endeavored to engage your senses and follow my instructions. Now, my love will enter your heart on its own. Up until now, you were following your senses, but you have punished them now. You told yourself, ‘You don’t listen to Guru-Vaisnavas. You sleep for the entire day.’ You punished your senses. Now, you have become mine.”

A person may come to the Dhama with Guru-Vaisnavas. But his devotion is an external show. He serves very much and displays his so-called service to everyone. He does parikrama and chants many rounds. But for whom is he doing this? What is the cause? Are we practicing devotion for the happiness of Guru-Vaisnavas and the Dhama? A person chants one lakha harinama; but for whom? A devotee does Govardhana parikrama, Vrndavana parikrama, and does service also in that same day. His feet crack because of the cold. He goes on parikrama even when there is heavy rainfall. But what is the fruit? He falls in love with a lady and desires a job. He doesn’t desire the happiness of Guru-Vaisnavas. So, where did the fruit go? What is the fruit of coming to the Dhama? One may do parikrama everyday. One may do Vrndavana parikrama two times a day—in the morning and in the evening. One will also do Govardhana parikrama. The same devotee also does service in the temple while also attending hari-katha and bhajan-kirtana. But what is the fruit of these endeavors? Another devotee only follows bhakti a little; but as a result, all forms of tattva-jnana enter his heart. When I was in the Matha with Gurudeva, I had never seen where Holi-gate was. I never stepped out of the temple gate. I would go to the market and do bhiksa. After coming from bhiksa, I would never keep a single penny for myself. Neither would I keep anything that I had collected from bhiksa. Srila Gurudeva knows everything.

Some days before his departure from this world, Gurudeva told me, “I could not give anything to you.”

I replied, “You gave everything to me. What else do I need? What will I do with the wealth and property of this world? Everything of this world pales in comparison to what you have given to me.”

So, if Guru-Vaisnavas use us in their service and if they consider us to be their own, then know that this is the greatest wealth. The Holy Dhama will also bestow mercy on you. This should be the only goal of our lives. The fruit of sadhana is the same for all—what is it? It is a place for us at the lotus feet of Guru-Vaisnavas. If Guru-Vaisnavas use us in their service and if they remember us, then our lives are successful. We try remembering Guru by doing mantra-japa. But what do we remember? When you try remembering Guru, only maya will come. When you chant guru-mantra, you will remember the entire world; but you will not remember Guru. When you chant Krsna-mantra, you will not remember Krsna. You will only remember the world of maya. Why? You desire to remember Guru-Vaisnavas. But do Guru-Vaisnavas think about you? Have you made a place for yourself in their hearts?

I will tell you what happened one day during a morning of Sri Radhastami. I would cook with the boys of Mathura. Some of them were Rakesh, Akhilesh, Purusottama, Madhu Pandit, Hari Om, and others. By Gurudeva’s desire, many of them would help me. These boys would help me cook.

Gurudeva told me, “If you cook or perform any service without chanting harinama, than the person who eats will die and you will also die. You should first chant harinama and Guru-mantra.”

I became anxious. I would start cooking even before Mangala-arati began. I prepared breakfast as soon as Mangala-arati ended. I would make rotis from fifteen kilos of wheat flour along with dal and sabji. I would then go to the market. After returning from the market, hari-katha would finish by seven and I would distribute breakfast prasad. Then, I would go to bhiksa. I would return from bhiksa at two in the afternoon and then, I would distribute lunch prasad. Afterwards, I would wash pots. So, when would I chant harinama? But Gurudeva chastised me on that day and I decided that I must chant harinama. I would chant near Srila Param Gurudeva’s bhajan-kutira. There was a three foot long room, where I would chant. I would lock the room and chant sixteen rounds. But on that day, Srila Gurudeva started shouting after Mangala-arati. He was loudly calling out for me. When Gurudeva was angry, no one would dare come in front of him. Gurudeva tried to light a fire, but was unable to. He called everyone, but no came because they were scared. Gurudeva then broke the fire pit and put two-three buckets of water in it. He then went to his room and locked the door. He was anxious because so many people would come to honor prasad on that day of Radhastami. At least five hundred people would come on that day. When Gurudeva was shouting, I didn’t come. I only emerged out of the room after I finished chanting sixteen rounds.

When I saw that there was water in the fire pit, I became very angry. I started shouting, “Who has put water in the fire? I have to cook now, but the fire pit is broken and watered.”

Some devotees were laughing from a distance. Kalacanda Prabhu, Sesasayi Prabhu, Mangala Maharaja, Ranganatha Prabhu, Nanda-dulala Prabhu, and others did not come because they were scared of what Gurudeva would say. But I continued shouting. I then cleaned the water, and started cooking. I put rice and dal in the pots and meanwhile, the boys came with vegetables and other items. Gurudeva then came out of the room after 8 o’clock.

He asked me, “Where did you go?”

Gurudeva was not angry anymore. Gurudeva was never angry with me at any time of my life. His anger would be pacified whenever he would see me, just as Nrsinghadeva would become pacified on seeing Prahlada. Gurudeva never became angry at me. He asked me, “Where did you go?”

I replied, “You told me to chant harinama. So, I was chanting.”

“Oh but on special days, you should do the many services first and then, you should chant,” Gurudeva said in a very calm voice.

“But shouldn’t you teach me this also. Did I learn everything and come from the heavenly abodes?” I would speak to Gurudeva this way. Why? Because there was so much love between us. I knew that Gurudeva would not become upset. I had the right to speak to him in this way.

Gurudeva teasingly said, “I tell you to go forward, but you go backwards. Then when I tell you to go back, you go forward. You should understand that today is Radhastami. Now it has become late; it is 9 o’clock.”

I said, “Everything is prepared already. Now you may do abhiseka, Gurudeva. I will prepare everything. I will make puris because I have already kneaded sixty kilos of wheat flour.”

You have not eaten the puris I have made. Nitin and others have eaten the puris I used to make. All the devotees from ISKCON and everywhere else would think, “How does he make such delicious puris?”

Srila Gurudeva had himself taught me how to make puris in Delhi. Once, we were going to Assam, and when we were in Delhi, Gurudeva told me to make puris. I didn’t know how to make puris so I started crying. I had never made puris before in my life. Then, Gurudeva taught me how to make puris. After learning to make puris, I would make thin, beautiful, soft, paper-like puris. You could eat these puris even after two or three days and they would still be soft. The rotis I would make were also like the puris. I would knead the wheat flour four hours early and soak the dough for some time in water. I would then remove the water and add oil. The wheat flour would not stick to one’s hands. We would make rotis without using any wheat powder. There was no need of adding any ghee or oil. We would knead the flour in such a way. Gurudeva taught us in such a way. If the rotis were improperly made, then Kunjabihari Prabhu would take the plate and throw the rotis away. Baba, there was so much discipline and regulations in those days! If we would not knead the flour by exactly four in the evening, then Kunjabihari Prabhu would come and ask, “Why haven’t you kneaded the atta yet?”

We would then add water and make rotis for bhoga during the night. We would make such floppy, thin rotis. As the Vaisnavas would sit for prasad, we would immediately make hot rotis and distribute them. If you would eat even four rotis, then how would your stomach or mind ever be spoiled? I would make rotis for Gurudeva after ten in the night.

Gurudeva told me, “You should always be careful and discerning.”

I said, “I have always been like so. You would always tell me, ‘You don’t chant harinama. You don’t chant harinama. You don’t chant harinama.’ ”

“Than where were you hiding?” Gurudeva asked.

“I was hiding in the bathroom near Parama Gurudeva’s bhajan-kutira.”

“I will break that room. Now where will you hide?”

Then, there was another room above the bathroom. I would sit there and chant. No one would go to Gurudeva out of fear. So, mostly everyone would come to me for whatever they needed. They would not let me chant harinama. By Gurudeva’s mercy, I started to chant sixty-four rounds effortlessly. During Navadvipa parikrama, I would return after eleven in the night after massaging Gurudeva. I would wake at one or two in the morning and chant. I would then go to bathe in the Ganga and return by four. Then, I would start my services. I would never be tired. There was no time when there is such a big parikrama to manage. But now, uninitiated people cook and distribute prasadam. They eat fish and other things. Now, there are no rules and regulations. But it wasn’t like this during our time.

By Gurudeva’s causeless mercy, everything will be achieved. Gurudeva would always say, “If Guru-Vaisnavas use you in their service and consider you as their own, then this is sadhana.”

If the Dhama has engaged you in service, then why will Krsna and Mahaprabhu not do so also? Why won’t tattva-jnana enter your heart? Therefore, the sadhakas should be very careful when their faith is weak. You should not commit offenses. You have already done many offenses in your previous lives. Hence, acting independently from Guru-Vaisnavas is not a limb of bhakti. But, who will explain this or make one understand this? Even if this is taught, who will agree? Gurudeva would always teach us slokas from Tulasi dasa’s Rama-caritra-manasa.

bina hari krpa mile na santa
santa krpa bina viveka na hoya

—Rama-caritra-manasa

Without Krsna’s mercy, the association of devotees will not be had. If the association of devotees is not obtained, then one will not be enlightened about bhakti. What will we do if we are not enlightened? Therefore, if we cast aside our independence and work under the guidance of Guru-Vaisnavas, then Guru-Vaisnavas will become happy. Becoming happy, they will give us responsibilities. At that time, without being proud, if you carry out these responsibilities while considering them to be the mercy and service of Guru-Vaisnavas, and if you work for their happiness, then Krsna will give you everything. Therefore, if you have come to the Dhama to obtain the Dhama’s mercy, then you should be humble and meek. Without committing offenses, you should always be in sat-sanga.

Therefore, Gurudeva would always tell me, “Don’t meet with ordinary people.”

Although many devotees would come to parikrama, I don’t ever remember going to any devotee’s house independently. I would never go wandering with them and I would never take anything from them. Gurudeva would tell me, “Take them for darsana,” then I would take them. I would take them for darsana and they would give me five or ten rupees. I would give whatever money I had to Srila Gurudeva.

On the day of Ekadasi, Gurudeva would tell me, “Make rotis, puris, and sabji for these people.”

I would do as Gurudeva would tell me. I wasn’t scared of anyone. Therefore, we should always think, “For whose happiness am I doing these services?” We chant mantras and do seva, but for whose happiness? Who will be happy and what will they give us? If you go to bathe, then for whom are you going? What will happen by bathing, eating, or clothing yourself? You should always live for the happiness of Guru-Vaisnavas. Ask yourself this. Hence, I remember that the person who bit his tongue and put chili powder on his eyes, became so qualified. He is no longer with us, he is somewhere else. He is Gurudeva’s godbrother. He became a sannyasi and an acarya. How qualified he became. Everyone should know this. Gurudeva would ask, “What is the meaning of anyabhilasita-sunyam? What is the meaning of jnana-karmady-anavrtam? What is the meaning of sarva-dharman-parityajya?”

Although we have forsaken all dharmas, Krsna is not with us. So, you should take shelter of Guru-Vaisnavas. Work for the happiness of Guru-Vaisnavas. Leave aside all separate desires and knowledge. Real knowledge is whatever Guru-Vaisnavas say. This is all right. You should be of the conviction that “I will only do what Guru-Vaisnavas tell me to. I will not do anything else. Jnana-karmady—Gurudeva would say that bhukti, mukti, and other separate desires are like witches.

You should not think, “I desire to act in this way.”

You should only do what Guru-Vaisnavas tell you to do. Even their orders are against your desires; you should still do the services. Then, your auspiciousness is assured. This auspiciousness will give you a transcendental fruit. You will realize your svarupa and Guru-Vaisnavas will consider you as theirs. Then what else is left to achieve? Therefore, Gurudeva would tell us this during the Vraja-mandala parikrama. There were only thirty or forty of us. Then the number of devotees gradually increased and then, thousands came for parikrama. But, we would never think to go on parikrama independently. I would cook, distribute prasadam, and wash pots. Then, I would go to the market.

One day, Gurudeva told us, “Nowadays, you get ten rupees; but now you will not get this. Why? Our manager, Kunjabihari Prabhu has departed.”

Kunjabihari Prabhu would give us two rupees first. With two rupees, we were told to either bring turmeric powder, rice, oil, salt, wheat flour, or vegetables. Only then, would twenty or twenty-five of us eat. Then, four rupees was offered to us. Then, six rupees, followed by eight rupees and when ten rupees was offered to us, Kunjabihari Prabhu departed from this world.

Then, Gurudeva told us, “I cannot give any of you money. Now you should manage for yourselves.”

At that time, we anxiously thought, “Where will we get ten rupees from? How will the Matha run? We cannot leave the service of Guru-Vaisnavas.”

Now we are used to serving Guru-Vaisnavas. Besides, we don’t have anyone else in this world. We cannot get a job also. I used to think that, “I will work in the Govindadeva temple in Jaipura. There, I will get some money and food. I will return after I earn some money. Or else, I will work anywhere else.”

But by Gurudeva’s mercy, everything ran smoothly. By his mercy, everything could be maintained. There will never be a shortage for the service of Guru-Vaisnavas. So, Gurudeva clearly explained to us about what bhakti is. Where is bhakti found? Bhakti is independent. If you see bhakti in any devotee, whose heart is melting in ecstasy, then by his association, you will get everything. But if a devotee’s heart is not melting, then how will Bhakti-devi come? She will not come.

[CC-by-NDNC Bhakta Bandhav]

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