By the mercy of Guru-pāda-padma and the Vaiṣṇavas we are present in Śrī Navadvīpa-dhāma, nearby the lotus feet of the pañca-tattva –- Mahāprabhu, Nityānanda Prabhu, Advaita Ācārya, Gadādhara Paṇḍita and Śrīvāsa Paṇḍita. We are all very lucky. After millions of lives wandering in material existence, by great fortune we have come in the holy dhāma. Māyā-devī cheats and gives opulence, and people run here and there to enjoy in recreational centers. Without sukṛti, causeless mercy and invitation, Yogamāyā-devī will never give one entrance into the holy dhāma. Many people have wealth and health, but they don’t come to the holy dhāma. It is not possible for them. We are here in Navadvīpa-dhāma, which is the svarūpa of Nityānanda Prabhu, with all the eternal associates of Mahāprabhu. How can we make a relation with God’s family and not run back to any other place? Therefore we perform parikramā.
Parikramā means pari-kramati, or pari-bhramati, an inquiry. Śrīla Gurudeva once told me a story when he came back from the West. After he returned from his tours, he would tell me about his travels and experiences. He said how he would daily go on morning walks. He walked on the beach nearby a road. One day, Śrīla Gurudeva told how he saw a dog that was running up to different parked cars, sniffing and then going away. He moved in this way again and again. Gurudeva asked, “Why is the dog doing this?”
“It must be that a man cared for this dog,” a devotee said, “and when the dog was sick or old, the owner brought him to the beach and left it here. Now the dog is searching for its guardian.”
The dog was very despondent, having lost its guardian, and searched over and over again with the hope of finding him, but no one accepted or cared for the dog. In this way, we have moved in the cycle of birth and death for millions of lives in māyā. We have not found any friend who cared for us with love and affection. Somehow, in this life, Śrī Guru-pāda-padma brought us out of the prison of māyā. He takes cares of everyone.
Therefore we perform parikramati, pari bhramati. We should go everywhere and search—who will take care of me? Who is my guardian who will think about my welfare?
Previously, the Gosvāmīs would perform bhajana, and if anyone had a deep desire for bhajana, they could come and reside nearby. Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura said to Bhaktisiddhānta Prabhupāda, “This is not appropriate for everyone. Now open a center which will be a branch office of Vṛndāvana-dhāma. Nicely take care of anyone who comes to this center. You should care for them, feed them, and shower them with bhakti-rasa, and engage them in all limbs of bhakti, teaching them everything. Then they will become qualified and attain a close relationship with God.”
On the order of Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura, Prabhupāda Sarasvatī Ṭhākura opened the Gauḍīya Maṭha. He said, “This is the Gauḍīya hospital.” Gauḍīya means Gaurī’s hospital. Who is this Gaurī? Śrīmatī Rādhārānī’s name is Gaurī. Gauḍīyas are the followers of Gaurī, Śrīmatī Rādhārānī. The Gauḍīya Maṭha is the place where aspirants train with a hope to attain the eternal service of Śrīmatī Rādhārānī and Kṛṣṇa. The followers of Śrīmatī Rādhārānī and the Vraja-devīs are cared for in these centers. There is a nursing system for those who are materially diseased, and by steadily taking the medicine available in these hospitals, one is assured to be cured of bhāva roga, the disease of material existence. Since millions of lives, this disease has been afflicting the living entities.
punar api jananam, punar api maraṇaṁ
punarapi jananī jaṭhare śayanam
“Again birth, again death, again lying in the womb of a mother.”
By their own efforts, without mercy and help, the living entities cannot achieve salvation from this miserable cycle of birth and death.
The treatment administered in these centers is delivered by Śrī Guru. Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura therefore begins his Prema-bhakti-candrikā with a prayer to Śrī Guru –-śrī guru caraṇa padma.
Śrī means Śrī Guru has prema-sampatti, the wealth of pure love. If one has no prema sampatti, he is not a bona fide guru; he has no love and affection. If he neglects, avoids and abuses others with the attitude that he is a great scholar and all others are useless, bogus, sinful, full of anarthas, and foolish, he is not a guru. This is not the symptom of a pure guru.
Śrī guru caraṇa padma. Śrī means prema, love; Śrī Guru has this love. He gives this love to the living entities; this is nectar and food for the soul. Taking this nectar, the conditioned souls come to the lotus feet of Śrī Guru. Then Śrī Guru’s caraṇa, lotus feet, give them a very nice treatment. Guru caraṇa means that there are many sevakas who are very close to Śrī Guru and know his desire. The sevakas near Śrī Guru’s lotus feet are very qualified, humble and sweet. They help the conditioned souls make a relationship with Guru-pāda-padma.
Param Gurudeva (Vinoda Bihārī Brahmacārī), Paramānanda Prabhu and Narahari Sevā-vigraha Prabhu were the first three people with Prabhupāda. Param Gurudeva was from a high-class landlord family and was very qualified. If anyone came to the holy dhāma, being ignorant of its glories, he would care for them continuously, teaching them and providing for all their needs. He helped engage them in service to Prabhupāda Sarasvatī Ṭhākura. Then they could come close to Prabhupāda.
A guru-sevaka has all the wealth of Śrī Guru in his heart. That is spiritual wealth. When the guru-sevaka gives that wealth to a sādhaka, the sādhaka can then understand Sri Guru, and by understanding Śrī Guru, it is possible to understand God. Prema-sampatti comes from Śrī Guru through his sevakas. Like a canal comes from a powerful river, and a smaller channel connects to the canal and from there to a pipe, from where the water flows into a field, nourishing all trees, plants and creepers. If too much flood of water comes at once, it will wash away everything; and if there is no water, the plants will also be dry.
Therefore this process is śrī guru caraṇa padma. Padma means a lotus. Śrī Guru’s lotus feet are full of the nectarful honey of prema. If one drinks too much honey at once, he won’t be able to digest. And if one takes in regulated amounts, his desire to relish it will increase more and more. By first taking a little bit of this medicinal nectar, one’s disease will be cured and one will be hungry for more. Taking more, one will gradually become strong and healthy.
In this world, at the time of parikramā, all conditioned souls come to the Vaiṣṇavas, who take them to Śrī Guru. When they come close to Śrī Guru, Śrī Guru engages the sādhakas in the service of God. How can one understand God?
Is the Deity a statue of God? Some say that even if one worships the Deity life after life, one’s material nature will never change. Māyāvādīs say that worshipping the Deity is helpful for a practitioner, and when one’s mind is fixed, the Deity is cast aside and one realizes God is without form or attributes and then merges into the impersonal light. This is not Vaiṣṇavism. Vaiṣṇavism teaches that the living entities’ souls and the Supreme Soul, God, are not zero. Both the soul and God have spiritual figures and qualities.
The Deity of Guru and Vaiṣṇavas are present before us. These bodies are not mundane.
acaryam mam vijaniyan
“Know the ācārya to be as good as Myself. He is My very svarūpa. At no time should one, out of envy or neglect, disrespect the Guru as an ordinary mortal, nor should he be considered to have any faults, for the Guru is the sum total of all the demigods.”
Don’t think Śrī Guru is mortal and the Vaiṣṇavas mundane, their bodies being the same as ours. Gold is a metal, as are silver and platinum, and also a cheap metal like iron, but all do not have the same value or qualities. Gold has high value, and platinum is more valued. In this world, don’t think Guru and Vaiṣṇavas are the same as ordinary people. All these things must be understood.
First one takes harināma and dīkṣā, and then śikṣā. Śikṣā-guru, or a tutor, teaches. After teaching, how can one practice? The śikṣā-guru instructs this. Simply by practice, God will not be happy with you. If you don’t teach or help any others, you have not served God. Serving God means acting for His pleasure, doing anything for His happiness. All living entities are the parts and parcels of God. Hence, first one takes dīkṣā and harināma, and practically follows the process —
bhārata bhūmite haila manuṣya janma jāra
janma sārthaka kari kara para-upakāra
Caitanya-caritāmṛta Ādi-līlā 9.41
“One who has taken birth as a human being in the land of Bhārata (India) should make his life successful and work for the benefit of all other people.”
First, practice yourself, and then, when you are realized, help everyone. If you help others, you will progress more and more, and taste greater sweetness and a more intimate relation with God, Guru and Vaiṣṇavas. God’s heart will melt.
Caitanya Mahāprabhu Himself went to meet with Rūpa and Sanātana. He met with them four or five times. Afterwards, they resided in Vṛndāvana and wrote all scriptures for the pleasure of Mahāprabhu. By this, they helped all living entities, and thus Mahāprabhu was extremely pleased with them.
This is the perfect way of bhajana. If you help jīvas, changing their hearts, then with them you can perform nāma-saṅkīrtana, hari-kathā and service of Hari. You will then have a large family of God.
For this reason, Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura instructed Prabhupāda Sarasvatī Ṭhākura to open branch offices of Vraja. Śrī Guru will be present at all times there, and everyone who comes is offered to his lotus feet. This is our process of Vaiṣṇavism.
Kevala bhakati sadma — Śrī Guru gives bhakti, the mercy and service tendency of svarūpa-śakti, Śrīmatī Rādhārānī. Śrī Guru gives sac-cid-ānanda tattva. The living entities will then be active in positive engagement.
Vando mui sava dāna — be careful. Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura explains, “Don’t give the seat of your own guru to any other person.” If the entire guru-varga is present before you, up to Lord Brahma, still, if your own Śrī Guru is directly before you, offer praṇāma first to him. If he so instructs you, then offer praṇāma to Param Gurudeva, Paratpara Gurudeva, and the guru-varga. If he so instructs you, then serve Gaurāṅga Mahāprabhu, Nityānanda Prabhu, or Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa. Don’t do anything independently; otherwise, you will go far away from Śrī Guru. Because of independent desire, all living entities have fallen in this material world, going very far away from Kṛṣṇa. Now, if having been so fortunate to come to Śrī Guru the sādhakas do anything independently, again they will go far away from him. Who then will take care of them? Who will be their guardian?
Upon coming to Śrī Guru and offering oneself, he gives the mantra to chant. By chanting this mantra, one will develop a good relation with Śrī Guru. Guru’s mercy will continuously help one. While chanting guru-mantra every morning, worship Śrī Guru. He puts on tilaka, takes ācamana, chants āhnika and so forth. Offer him flowers, Tulasī, sandal paste, water to bathe with, an āsana to sit on, a toothbrush and all necessary paraphernalia. Bathe and dress him, and offer him something to eat. If one doesn’t perform dadāti pratigṛhṇāti, giving and taking with love, then no relationship is established.
guhyam ākhyāti pṛcchati
bhuṅkte bhojayate caiva
“Offering pure devotees items in accordance with their requirements and accepting prasāda, remnant items given by pure devotees; revealing to devotees one’s confidential realizations concerning bhajana and inquiring from them about their confidential realizations; eating with great love the prasāda given by devotees and lovingly feeding them prasāda –- these are the six kinds of association that symptomize love and affection.”
These are the six symptoms of love. The sādhaka must daily first serve Guru-pāda-padma. This is favorable. On the other side, don’t perform any unfavorable action. Don’t sit on Guru’s seat or bed, don’t take Guru’s bhoga, and, without Guru’s desire, don’t independently go anywhere or do anything. Don’t make a relation with any of his sevakas more than Śrī Guru. Then both the sevaka and sādhaka will go far from Guru. Also, don’t read many books like novels, or anything opposed to scripture. Any book that Śrī Guru recommends is favorable for the disciple.
If anyone performs guru-pūjā, very easily one will realize everything by the mercy of the Divine Master.
jāhāra prasāde bhai, e bhava toriyā jāi,
kṛṣṇa-prāpti hoya jāhā ha’te
Jāhāra prasāda. Prasāda means mercy, but this is not enough; it is not the complete meaning. Guru-prasāda means all the devotees with Śrī Guru. They are his prasāda, his remnants, his mercy is present with them. If you don’t respect Vaiṣṇavas and don’t serve them but, rather, you always fight, abuse and insult them, Gurudeva will not be happy with you, God will not be happy. Anywhere Guru’s prasāda is, with those who have love for Guru-pāda-padma, respect and serve all appropriately.
How should one serve? If any godbrother or godsister comes to you, if you are qualified, you can distribute Śrī Guru’s teachings to them. If you have an āsana, then give them a seat. If you have water, give them water. If you have any food or place to reside, give that. If you have nothing, then at least speak sweetly, not duplicitously or bitterly and with a fighting mentality. Endeavor to tolerate everything. If you have patience, you can conquer over everything.
E bhava toriyā jāi — if you accept and have a relationship with Śrī Guru’s prasāda, you will cross māyā and never have any problem in life. All will bless you, and give you mercy and help. You will then never be afraid.
Kṛṣṇa-prāpti hoya jāhā ha’te — by staying with Vaiṣṇavas, attaining Kṛṣṇa is very easy, very easy. But no guru-prasāda, then no Kṛṣṇa.
Guru-mukha-padma-vākya, cittete koriyā aikya — when Gurudeva sees his disciple has a sweet relation with all of his family, the Vaiṣṇavas, Gurudeva will speak and reveal his heart and the confidential secrets of prema-bhakti. How will the flow of nectarful hari-kathā come? One must be a snigdha-śiṣya, a dear disciple who is the abode of Śrī Guru’s affection. If one is very close with Śrīla Gurudeva, his heart will automatically open up.
tasmin mahan-mukharita madhubhir-caritra-
piyusa-sesa-saritah parith sravanti
ta ye pibanty avitrso nrpa gadha-karnais
tan na sprsanty asana-trd-bhaya-soka-mohah
“My dear King, in the place where pure devotees live, following the rules and regulations and thus purely conscious and engaged with great eagerness in hearing and chanting the glories of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, in that place if one gets a chance to hear their constant flow of nectar, which is exactly like the waves of a river, one will forget the necessities of life — namely, hunger and thirst — and become immune to all kinds of fear, lamentation, and illusion.”
Kṛṣṇa says —
pārtho vatsaḥ su-dhīr bhoktā
dugdhaṁ gītāmṛtaṁ mahat
“The Bhagavad-gītā is like a cow, and her udder contains great quantities of milk. Her calf is also with her, but all that milk is not for the calf. The milkman shows the calf to the cow, only so that she will give milk. Similarly, Arjuna was standing with Kṛṣṇa only so that He would recite Bhagavad-gītā, which is really for the benefit of humankind. Meanwhile, Arjuna was quietly lamenting, “Why has Kṛṣṇa said, ‘You should surrender to Me’? I am already surrendered. What is more, I am His intimate associate, His friend. I cannot say how many lives ago I surrendered to Him.”
The Upaniṣads are like a cow, but without a calf they don’t give any milk. Kṛṣṇa told Arjuna to be the calf, and He would be the milkman. When the calf came, milk would come from the cows’ udders and Kṛṣṇa would distribute that to all. This milk is jnanamrtam, the nectar of divine knowledge. Arjuna was in front of Kṛṣṇa, and Kṛṣṇa gave him transcendental teachings.
Guru-mukha-padma-vākya. For whom does Gurudeva give his nectar, heartfelt love, and everything? Snigdha-śiṣyasya — if anyone is very humble, quiet and peaceful, this is not everything. If one has already surrendered everything to Gurudeva, then also no. If one always endeavors again and again to fulfill the heart’s desire of his Gurudeva, without announcing to all or doing in front all, Śrī Guru gives his mercy. One need not be directly with Śrī Guru. Anywhere one is, if he has a strong desire and mood to serve and please Śrī Guru, he will be very close to Śrī Guru, and will be the embodiment of Śrī Guru’s love and affection, and he will distribute this to all others. Gurudeva will help such a disciple from wherever he is.
Ācārya Rāmānuja had many disciples. One day, his lady disciple came and said, “Gurudeva, my parents married me off to a cruel family very far away. They beat and punish me, and make me work hard throughout the day and night. When I can’t do everything, they torment me so much. Now what can I do, Gurudeva?”
Ramānujācārya called his own personal servant who was very qualified, “Come here! Serve in this mataji’s house.” This is guru-sevā. If Guru tells one to do anything, that is guru-sevā. Then the disciple went to the mātāji’s house and performed all menial tasks, cooking, washing cloth, massaging their feet, cleaning and doing everything. Did Ācārya Rāmānuja reject him, become angry with him, or throw him out? No. Anywhere he was, because he was following the instruction of his Gurudeva, always desiring to please his Gurudeva, all the glories of his Guru Mahārāja became present with him. We have heard this story many times from Śrīla Gurudeva. After sometime, the glory of this disciple was revealed.
Āra nā koriho mane āśā. Don’t think about yourself, me or others. Consider, “How can I follow the advice and instructions of Śrīla Gurudeva throughout my entire life?” Then guru-mukha-padma-vākya ¬-–everything will come nonstop to you. This flow of nectar from Śrī Guru will never stop. This is
satam prasangam mama virya-samvido
bhavanti hrt-karna-rasayanah kathah
taj-josanad asv apavarga-vartmani
sraddha ratir bhaktir anukramisyati
“In the association of pure devotees, discussion of the pastimes and activities of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is very pleasing and satisfying to the ear and the heart. By cultivating such knowledge one gradually becomes advanced on the path of liberation, and thereafter he is freed, and his attraction becomes fixed. Then real devotion and devotional service begin.”
Completely fix your faith in the advice of Śrī Guru. Imbibe Śrī Guru’s vāṇī, transcendental instructions. Don’t look or run here and there. If Guru’s heart melts, all his love and affection will come to you. You are the calf of Śrī Guru. A calf will not go to any buffalo, goat, pig, elephant or camel for milk. When a calf is born, he will not even take milk from any other cow. He drinks from his own mother’s breasts.
If Guru’s disciples have deep faith, love and loyalty to Śrī Guru, then his heart will melt and all transcendental knowledge will appear in the disciples’ hearts.
śrī-guru-caraṇe rati, ei se uttamā-gati
je prasāde pūre sarva āśā
This rati comes after bhāva. Should one have rati for Gurudeva? Yes. Gurudeva is very close and dear to Kṛṣṇa. He is the expansion of Kṛṣṇa. In the Gauḍīya line, Śrī Guru has the svarūpa of a mañjarī, personal maidservant of Śrīmatī Rādhārānī. When one is near Gurudeva, this rati, love, will automatically come.
Ei se uttamā-gati — this is the highest line, process and attainment.
Remember, āra nā koriho mane āśā — have hope for no other thing. If any problem or disturbance comes in one’s guru-sevā, should one leave it and run away? No. How can one understand what is guru-sevā? One’s godbrothers and godsisters will come to help without any condition or invitation. As a farmer plants flowers in a field. . . when they blossom, honeybees come without his invitation. He doesn’t have to say to customers, “Come and buy my flowers and fruits.”
Guru-pāda-padma opens this center for performing pure bhakti, and people automatically come. This line is nonstop. Never become disturbed, and never think Gurudeva is not present.
To make a relation with Śrīla Gurudeva now, when he is not physically present, if anyone chants mantra and worships the deity, he will be related to Gurudeva. If anyone chants and worships Gurudeva, Gurudeva will be present with him. That disciple’s heart is the temple of Śrīla Gurudeva. Śrī vigraha is there. Also, if anyone arranges a festival or program for Śrī Guru, God will send people to get benefit there. The guru-paramparā, and God Himself with sad-guru, will be there with you. So never be hopeless.
[CC-by-NDNC Bhakta Bandhav]