śrī śrī guru gaurāṅga jayataḥ!
Year-4, Issue 1
Posted: 22 February 2011
nitya-līlā praviṣṭa oṁ viṣṇupāda
Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Gosvāmī Mahārāja
Inspired by and under the guidance of
nitya-līlā praviṣṭa oṁ viṣṇupāda
Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja
Calling God's Name
by Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura Prabhupāda
Question 1: Who can protect me from mundane absorption (jaḍa-abhiniveśa)?
Answer: Only Śrīla Gurudeva, who is the personal associate of Śrī Gaurāṅga, can protect me from the clutches of this material existence, which is like death. However, I will have to carefully consider who is guru (heavy, or profoundly significant) and who is laghu (light, or insignificant). He who engages in constantly serving that most complete entity (pūrṇa vastu), the sole worshipful object of all gurus, is alone, a true guru. I am not speaking of the worldly gurus, or masters, who teach sitar or physical exercise. They cannot save us from the clutches of death.
There is a verse in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam that explains that if someone cannot protect me from the clutches of death by giving me eternal life, or keep me from being absorbed in this material world due to my ignorance, which is the same as being dead, then that person is not fit to become my guru, a demigod or my father, mother or any other relative.
It is solely our ignorance that makes us fall prey to death, and it is solely transcendental knowledge that prevents the same. The knowledge we have acquired in this material world becomes useless if we happen to become mad, or if we suffer paralysis or die. If we do not investigate the Real Truth, then we become as inert as lifeless matter. Those who cannot deliver us from death can only facilitate some ephemeral enjoyment, lasting but a few days. Those who attract our attention by enticing our senses – our tongue, our hands, our legs or our genitals – are cheaters. But having met that śrī guru who can protect us against all such cheating, it is imperative to serve him at the beginning of every year, every month, every day and every moment.
Question 2: How should we call out for Bhagavān?
Answer: In the words of Śrī Gaurasundara, if you want to call out for the Supreme Lord, Śrī Bhagavān, you must become more humble than a blade of grass. Unless a person realizes how insignificant he is, he cannot call for someone else to help him. When we pray for someone else’s help, it is because we feel helpless and unable to perform any task on our own. In that state, we see no other means than to seek the help of others.
If a particular task can only be carried out by five people, then it cannot be carried out single-handedly. We have heard from Śrīla Gurudeva that Śrī Gaurasundara instructed us to call out for Bhagavān. In other words we must pray, seeking help from Him.
However, when I call out for Bhagavān, if my plan is to make Him my servant or if I seek His help just to accomplish some personal task, then where is the humility in my mood? Where is my feeling of being more insignificant than a blade of grass? External humility, too, is not tṛṇād api sunīca bhāva (the mood of being more insignificant than a blade of grass); it is simply duplicity. If I call out for the Supreme Lord as if I am calling for a subordinate to answer me, then my call will not reach Him. This is so because He is supremely independent. He is that being who comprises the totality of consciousness (pūrṇa-cetana vastu). He is not controlled by anyone. Unless someone establishes his self-conception in a mood of selfless humility, his request will not reach that absolutely independent Supreme Lord.
There is another important point: if we do not possess the virtue of patience when we call, even if we call out to Him with the greatest humility, feeling more insignificant than a blade of grass, then, too, it will not be considered a true call. If we become greedy and impatient, our mood will be the opposite of tṛṇād api sunica bhāva.
However, if we become fully confident that by calling out for Bhagavān – who is the Supreme entity – we will have no lacking, then we will not even lack such patience. But if we become greedy and impatient, and display our restlessness while harbouring thoughts of accomplishing our task on our own strength and capacity, then our calls to Bhagavān will not be genuine.
We often suppose that we are doing Bhagavān a favour by offering Him our prayers, for, we suppose, we have other pressing activities to tend to, instead of calling out for Him. This mentality also exposes our impatience. In order to protect ourselves from such mental dispositions and to prevent ourselves from being deprived of tṛṇād api sunica bhāva, we need a protector. It is essential to receive proper shelter from such evil propensities. Therefore, Śrīla Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura has said,
āśraya laiyā bhaje tāre kṛṣṇa nāhi tyaje
āra saba mare akāraṇa
One who takes shelter of Kṛṣṇa’s dear devotees is never abandoned by Him. All others perish for no reason.
Question 3: Is it particularly essential to render service to Śrī Guru?
Answer: Our foremost objective is to render service to Śrīla Gurudeva. In this world, we require a master even if we simply wish to engage in karma, acquire knowledge, or fulfil any other desire. But the education imparted by all such teachers begets only insignificant results. The transcendental guru does not bestow such insignificant results. Śrī guru grants us true welfare.
The moment we are deprived of the mercy of śrī gurudeva, who is āśraya-jātīya bhagavān, is the very moment our minds start to fill with many types of disparate desires. If the Vaiṣṇavas who have guru-niṣṭhā do not teach us how to take shelter of the lotus feet of śrīla gurudeva and how to behave toward him then we may very well lose that most precious jewel even after having finally attained him.
Question 4: Who should one associate with?
Answer: It is not appropriate to associate with anyone besides the devotees of Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Only the devotees of Śrī Kṛṣṇa are auspicious, admirable and eternal. Bad association – that is, association of anything unrelated to Śrī Kṛṣṇa – is truly harmful to us. Therefore, one should not show respect or appreciation to anything unrelated to Śrī Kṛṣṇa or kṛṣṇa-bhakti.
I am amazed to see that even after hearing so much hari-kathā, you still have such great regard for the material world and are still so attached to it. This is a sign of great misfortune. When we are in bad association, we cannot achieve Śrī Kṛṣṇa, so we should always keep in mind that we can only achieve Lord Hari when we give up all such association in favour of associating with the devotees.
When the jīva perceives that all sense objects are established in relation to Śrī Kṛṣṇa, then the sense objects cannot cause him any harm. This whole material world is an instrument for the service of its Supreme Master. On the other hand, to consider any object related to Śrī Hari to be meant for one’s own gratification greatly intensifies the jīva’s gross attachment to material objects and leads him to remain in the continual cycle of repeated birth and death (saṁsāra).
Question 5: Is everything the mercy of the Lord?
Answer: All things are indeed the mercy of the supreme embodiment of mercy. Śrī Gaurasundara keeps us in different kinds of discomfort and among different people to test us in various ways. Success in all such tests depends on one’s fortune.
Śrī Gaurahari, as the indwelling Supersoul, mercifully reveals the eternal truth to the honest and sincere (niṣkapaṭa) person. Faith in the illusory words of someone traversing the wrong path never arises in those who have sincerely and honestly taken shelter of the lotus feet of śrī guru and Śrī Hari. Only the unfortunate jīvas get bewildered by hearing deceitful words. The lotus feet of Śrīman Mahāprabhu are the only shelter.
We should always read Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta and listen to the commentary of a Vaiṣṇava who knows its true purports. We should constantly engage in chanting the holy names of the Lord without offence, and remain far away from the association of non-devotees. And we should also continuously read Prārthana, Śaraṇāgati and so on.
This alone will be beneficial and auspicious for us. Śrī Gaurahari will bestow His mercy upon us when we engage in chanting the holy names in the association of His devotees.
Translated by the Rays of the Harmonist team
from Śrīla Prabhupādera Upadeśāmṛta
Questions re-numbered for this on-line presentation
Śrīla Prabhupādera Upadeśāmṛta is a compilation of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura Prabhupāda’s instructions in question-and-answer form.