Dead Mantras

So, the very gist of the guru parampara the disciplic succession, is siksa, the spiritual teaching, and wherever it is to be traced, there is guru. One who has the transcendental eye, the divine eye, will recognize the guru wherever he appears. One who possesses knowledge of absolute divine love in purity – he is guru. Otherwise the guru parampara is only a body parampara: a succession of bodies. Then the caste brahmanas, the caste goswamis, will continue with their trade, because body after body, they are getting the mantra. But their mantra is dead. We are after a living mantra, and wherever we can trace the living tendency for a higher type of devotional service, we shall find that there is our guru. One who has that sort of vision awakened will be able to recognize the guru wherever he may appear.

Initiation into the mantra means to impart real knowledge and devotional sentiment from one to another. And that must be genuine. Nothing can be known about a homeopathic globule by an outer physical inspection, but the potency is within. So also within the mantra the important thing is the type of thought or sentiment which is imparted through that sound. The impersonalists have got the same mantra, and are also chanting, the holv name of Krsna, but that sort of name will vanish in the brahmajyoti. They won’t be able to cross the Viraja, the river between the material and spiritual world. When the mayavadi chants the name of Krsna, Bhaktivinoda Thakura says that his chanting of the name of Krsna is just like thunder to the holy body of Krsna. It does not produce any soothing effect.

The Gaudiya Math deals with reality, not with the frame. We are trying to understand what is what in the spiritual thought-world. We are not enchanted or captured by the mere form. We are interested in the step by step development in spiritual thought. In his Upadesamrta (10), Srila Rupa Goswami has said, karmibhyah parito hareh priyataya vyaktim yayur jnaninas, tebhyo jnanavimukta bhakti-paramah premaika nisthas tatah. “Out of many materialists one may be a philosopher. Out of many philosophers, one may become liberated and take to devotional service. Out of many devotees, one may attain pure love of Krsna. He is the best of all.” We are interested in understanding this gradation: what is the Viraja river, what is the spiritual sky, the planet of Lord Siva, the Vaikuntha world of Visnu, Lord Rama’s Ayodhya, and then Krsna in Dwaraka, Mathura, and Vrndavana? We want to know the realistic view of the whole gradation of devotional thought. Krsna shows this gradation in the Srimad-Bhagavatam (11.14.15) where he says:

na tatha me priyatama
atma-yonir na sankarah
na ca sankarsano na srir
naivatma ca yatha bhavan

“Neither Brahma, nor Siva, nor Sankarsana of Vaikuntha, nor the goddess of fortune Laksmidevi, nor even my own self is as dear to me as you. You are my favorite, Uddhava.”

We have to follow the spirit; otherwise after Jahnava devi, the wife of Lord Nityananda, up to Vipina Goswami, from whom Bhaktivinoda Thakura took initiation, there are so many unknown lady gurus. Through them, the mantra came to Vipina Goswami, and from him Bhaktivinoda Thakura received the mantra. We accept Bhaktivinoda Thakura, but should we count all those ladies in our disciplic succession? What was their realization?

[Excerpted from the Chapter Three: “Descent of the Revealed Truth” of “Sri Guru and His Grace.” From Srila Bhakti Rakshak Sridhar Maharaja’s Folio]

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