śrī śrī guru gaurāṅga jayataḥ!
Year-3, Issue 9
Posted: 28 September 2010
nitya-līlā praviṣṭa oṁ viṣṇupāda
Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Gosvāmī Mahārāja
Inspired by and under the guidance of
Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja
The Disposition of a Śuddha-bhakta
by Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura Prabhupāda
Question 1: Is direct service to śrīla gurudeva and direct association with him particularly essential?
Answer: Definitely. It is essential to have direct communion with śrī gurudeva. Those who do not wish to directly serve and associate with śrī guru are bound to become beguiled. Direct communion with guru is the first step on the path of divine service. Guru is to be served in every entity. If guru is not served, no one can be truly served. I must not hear anything until I am authorized to hear it by my divine master, śrī gurudeva.
Question 2: Is it our identity that we are servants of the topmost rūpānuga (follower of Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī), śrī gurudeva?
Answer: Yes. Those devotees of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu who have taken shelter of madhura-rasa (the mood of transcendental amour) proudly maintain the self-conception that they are the servants of the followers of Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī. That is, they proudly identify as the servants of the topmost rūpānuga, śrīla gurudeva.
Question 3: What is the greatest kindness?
Answer: “May your mind become absorbed in Śrī Kṛṣṇa.” This type of blessing, or well-wishing, is the only beneficence upon the world. Causing the consciousness of the living beings to become fully absorbed in Śrī Kṛṣṇa is truly the greatest kindness. And to bestow kṛṣṇa-bhakti upon all souls is undoubtedly the topmost form of altruism. A devotee’s mind is perpetually busy, solely to engender such benevolence.
To know about the Supreme Lord is the topmost knowledge. The scriptures say, “vidyā bhāgavatāvadhi – to know God is the apex of wisdom.”
prabhu kahe, “kon vidyā vidyā-madhye sāra?”
rāya kahe, “kṛṣṇa-bhakti vinā vidyā nāhi āra”
Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madya-līlā 8.245)
Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu asked, “Which form of knowledge and learning, amidst all knowledge, is the essence?” Śrī Rāmānanda Rāya replied, “Apart from kṛṣṇa-bhakti, there is no knowledge.”
The Godless education that is being offered and assimilated nowadays does not yield any well-being for the residents of this world. On the contrary, it has produced, is now producing, and will continue to produce heavy burdens for them, and nothing else. Truly, the human race will only achieve its greatest welfare through the proliferation of Sri Caitanyadeva’s compassion.
Question 4: Whose fate is bright and favourable?
Answer: The fate, or fortune, of humans is of two types. The fate of one type of person is bleak while the fate of the other is bright. Only those whose fate is favourable and bright endeavour to engage in hari-bhajana, and they alone achieve hari-bhakti in this very lifetime. They do not have to wait for a future birth.
By taking exclusive shelter at the lotus feet of Śrī Caitanyadeva, we will attain full spiritual welfare in this very lifetime. But even after taking to the path of eternal welfare, the living entity can fall down again as a result of bad association. Therefore, at every moment we must remain aloof from our covetousness of wealth, women and fame. By repeatedly hearing sermons on hari-bhakti, all forms of unfavourable thought will recede.
Question 5: Who is the most benevolent person?
Answer: The message of Śrī Caitanyadeva is so true, so great, so wonderful and so magnanimous that no other subject matter can ever come close to comparing to it. Only the faithful servants of the message of Śrī Caitanya, they who have denounced dharma, artha, kāma and mokṣa (worldly righteousness, mundane prosperity, sense gratification and emancipation from suffering) are truly benevolent. Just one time, it is essential for us to reflect with an unbiased mind upon the vast intelligence, thoughtfulness and benevolence of the devotees of Gaura. “I will command others;” “let all others serve me.” May the compassion of Śrī Caitanya-candra deliver me from these malevolent thoughts.
Question 6: Who should one give charity to?
Answer: If you want to offer your assistance to someone, or if you want to make donations, then, with a sense of duty, you should offer them exclusively to śrī guru and the Vaiṣṇavas. All credit is due to God-loving people alone. We should only place our faith in and serve those who are engaged in bhajana of the Supreme Lord twenty-four hours a day. We should never place our faith in those who do not engage in serving Śrī Bhagavān, but rather busy themselves accepting service from others. It is improper to offer such people anything.
Question 7: What is the disposition of a śuddha-bhakta (pure devotee)?
Answer: A pure devotee’s disposition is that he does not regard anything as being meant for his own enjoyment. Rather he sees that all objects in existence are meant for serving Śrī Bhagavān. All living and non-living things exist only to serve Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Therefore, all our activities should tend toward His unalloyed service. “Hṛṣīkeṇa hṛṣīkeśa-sevanaṁ bhaktir ucyate – serving the Supreme Master of the senses through all of one’s senses is called bhakti.” All our services must target Him only. It is necessary that through all of our senses we render service to Lord Hṛṣīkeśa – the Supreme Master of the senses. All are servitors of Kṛṣṇa. Therefore, we shall not deprive them of their service. Let all of them offer their service to Kṛṣṇa. Our only prayer should be that He may accept our service.
Selfishly utilizing bricks to build my own home is inappropriate, but if I utilize those same bricks to construct a temple for Śrī Bhagavān, I will be greatly benefited. Inert objects are perfectly utilized only when they are engaged in serving the Supreme Lord. When they are employed by the living entities to procure sense gratification, then they have certainly been misused. Our senses should be directed to His service. All objects are essentially properties of Godhead. They are never meant for the enjoyment of conditioned people. It is wrong and misguided to think that these things are created for us. Nothing is for our sensuous enjoyment. Everything should be properly adjusted for the service of Godhead.
The existence of every inert object in this world only becomes meaningful when it is engaged in serving Śrī Hari. For example, consider these bamboo canes. If they are used to prepare a pavilion for listening to harikatha, then they have actually been utilized properly. We must use all objects solely to serve the devotees and temple of Śrī Hari. All the actions of a devotee are designed to please Bhagavān and to serve Śrī Hari, guru and Vaiṣṇavas. A pure devotee does not do anything for his sensuous enjoyment. A pure devotee never performs any activity for himself or for his bodily relatives, but he performs all sorts of activities exclusively for the Absolute. He is always true to the service of the Supreme Lord.
Question 8: Who can attain kṛṣṇa-prema?
Answer: Only they who sincerely and subserviently accept the guidance of śrī gurudeva, who is non-different from Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī, will receive the mercy of Śrī Bhagavān. They alone will be able to attain kṛṣṇa-prema.
Question 9: Who should be served?
Answer: Śrī guru and Bhagavān are beings who exist beyond the purview of the material senses. Those who have attained harmony in adjustment to the Absolute Person see guru as īśvara, the controller, and as devatā, the divine. Śrī guru is the servitor aspect of the personality of Godhead (sevaka-bhagavān) or the embodied vessel of love of Godhead (āśraya-vigraha). This is why the guru is simultaneously Bhagavān and bhakta. Even though the guru is Bhagavān, he is also the most beloved of Bhagavān.
guru* pūrṇa-śakti, kṛṣṇa pūrṇa-śaktimāna
dui vastu bheda nāi, śāstra paramāṇa
Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Ādi-līlā 4.96)
Śrī guru is the Lord’s complete energy, and Śrī Kṛṣṇa is the almighty. The verdict reached by assessing the testimonies of śāstra is that there is in fact no difference between these two absolute beings.
* The verse ordinarily begins rādhā pūrṇa-śakti.
It is essential that we exclusively serve that God-loving guru (bhagavat-bhakta guru) who is engaged in the service of Bhagavān twenty-four hours a day. And along with our service to śrī guru, it is necessary and beneficial for us to serve those Vaiṣṇavas who have guru-niṣṭhā – that is, unshakable faith in śrī guru and determined steadfastness in serving him. But it will be of no use to serve numerous others on the assumption that they, too, are lovers of God.
Nowadays, due to the influence of Kali, we find many hypocrites and atheists masquerading as bhaktas and Vaiṣṇavas. It is for this reason that I have stated that one should only serve guru and Vaiṣṇavas, for only by serving the pure devotees will one achieve genuine spiritual benefit. However, if a devotee, in the course of time, becomes a non-devotee, then one should not continue to busily accept pains to serve him, because by serving a non-devotee one will only achieve inauspiciousness.
It is imperative that we exclusively serve a bhagavat-bhakta guru and receive guidance from him alone. And upon taking shelter at his lotus feet, one should serve him with deep faith. The essence of all scriptural injunctions is viśrambheṇa guroḥ sevā. Viśrambheṇa means ‘with deep faith and intimacy’. By rendering service to śrī guru and the Vaiṣṇavas with deep faith and profound affection, one will certainly achieve eternal welfare, and Kṛṣṇa will surely become pleased. The guru should never be considered a mortal human being. Since he is in fact flawless, one should not try to perceive any fault in him.
Time is fleeting and good fortune does not last forever. Therefore, as long as time remains in a person’s life, it is necessary for him to utilize the opportunity and facility to engage in hari-bhajana in the association of genuine devotees.
Translated by the Rays of the Harmonist team
from Śrīla Prabhupādera Upadeśāmṛta
Questions re-numbered for this on-line presentation
Śrīla Prabhupadera Upadeśāmṛta is a compilation of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura Prabhupāda’s instructions in question-and-answer form.