Special On-line Edition for the disappearance day of
Srila Gaura-kisora dasa Babaji Maharaja
sri sri guru gauranga jayatah!
Year-5, Special On-line Edition
Posted: 24 November 2012
nitya-lila pravista om visnupada
Sri Srimad Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Gosvami Maharaja
Inspired by and under the guidance of
nitya-lila pravista om visnupada
Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja
My Master and His Teachings
(Amara Prabhura Katha)
by Sri Srimad Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada
We are presenting herein excerpts from a series of articles by jagad-guru Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada that were published under the title “Amara Prabhura Katha – My Master And His Teachings”. They first appeared in the magazine Sri Sajjana-tosani, Year 19, Issues 5–6. We are also presenting excerpts from whatever Srila Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada spoke regarding the supra-mundane and transcendental life and teachings of Srila Gaura-kisora dasa Babaji Maharaja on the occasion of his tirobhava-tithi, the day of his sacred disappearance from this world.
Srila Sarasvati Thakura’s style herein reveals a path which preserves a certain unparalleled speciality, independent of the conventional societal norm, regarding how to approach sri guru and other transcendental personalities. This bears no similarity to the approach adopted by common philosophers to describe the lives of great personalities or their own gurus. In the following article, jagad-guru Srila Prabhupada humbly yet analytically exposes the disposition with which the common people make a show of approaching sri gurudeva and great personalities. He does so in the course of discussing the accounts (katha) of his own sri gurudeva.
– The editors of the original Bengali article
Will everyone find the narrations (katha) about my spiritual master (prabhu) palatable? This I do not know. Indeed, one may even wonder, “How will listening to the accounts of your spiritual master benefit me? Am I sitting here at the cost of my time and wealth just to listen to you eulogize the glories of your master? How will listening to discussions about your master satisfy my self-interest? Why would even a slight curiosity develop in me to hear about him?”
The Realm of Diverse Self-Interest
In this realm of dvitiya-abhinivesa – where a person is absorbed in anything other than the Supreme Absolute Reality – a host of such questions and objections are bound to arise. This is because in this world, each individual is separated from every other by one thing – illusion. In such a place, one indeed distinguishes between ‘you’ and ‘me’, and ‘yours’ and ‘mine’. Consequently, one person’s self-interest cannot be reconciled with the self-interest of another. Nor does the auspiciousness of one person awaken the auspiciousness of another. In this world full of separate interests, there is even disparity of interest between mother and son, husband and wife, master and servant, and teacher and student. It therefore follows that here, where differences are plentiful, the words, ‘the account of my spiritual master’, stimulate the same feelings of separateness, or disparity, in the heart.
Such incongruity, however, does not exist in the spiritual world, where the Absolute Truth, the son of the king of Vraja (advaya-jnana Vrajendra-nandana) is the exclusive object (visaya) of interest. The sole interest of the residents of the spiritual realm, referred to as the asraya (abodes of love), is to bring Him happiness. It thus follows that in that place where everyone has one interest only and where only one person enjoys being the cynosure of that interest, the manifestation of duality would be impossible. In that realm, there is no difference between ‘your’ master and ‘my’ master, for there, to speak of ‘my’ master’s glories is to automatically speak of ‘your’ master’s glories, and vice versa: when you speak of ‘your’ master’s glories, I only hear the glories of ‘my’ master.
The countless eternal associates of Sri Krsna, who is the non-dual Absolute Truth and the one and only object of love (advaya-jnana visaya), are indeed His vaicitrya-tattva, or fundamental principle of variegatedness. Their exclusive interest is to satisfy the senses of Sri Krsna. Could there possibly be any disparity of interest among those perpetually absorbed in rousing the pleasure of Sri Krsna’s senses?
Therefore, in this world of disparity, people may or may not honour the accounts of my master. Nonetheless, since I am a lowly dog who is sustained by my master’s remnants, it is my sole constitutional duty and function (dharma) to extol his glories.
The Rightful Master of My Heart
I understand the word prabhu (master) to refer to that person who can extend his authority over me in every way, who can fully and always exercise control over my whole heart, and who in my every act, every footstep, every inhalation and exhalation and every directive of life is my sole ideal, goal and guide. That person alone is my master. Someone who controls my heart for some time and after awhile is expelled from it, who is my role model for a few moments but who, after a short time, does not remain so, is not worthy of being called my master. It therefore becomes apparent to me that such a person or thing is a mere illusion, or whim of the mind.
By nature I am critical, always looking for faults in others. My heart is so absorbed in attachment to my body and residence that the devotees call me grha-vrata, one bound by a vow to home and necessities. In my study of the life of Sri Prahlada Maharaja, I have read:
matir na krsne paratah svato va
mitho ’bhipadyeta grha-vratanam
adanta-gobhir visatam tamisram
punah punas carvita-carvananam
Having assimilated these words spoken by Sri Prahlada Maharaja, I become utterly overwhelmed with hopelessness. Here, Sri Prahlada Maharaja is referring to a person who is attached to his body and residence, in other words, to a person who is avowedly determined to tend only to the functions of his body and the needs of his residence. Since his senses are restless, he is incapable of propelling his mind in the proper direction – toward Sri Krsna. He cannot do this of his own accord nor with the assistance of someone else, especially if the person whose help he seeks is being guided by the teachings of a guru who is impulsive like him, that is, someone whose heart is not at peace. Such a person simply continues to encounter troubles and suffering, like someone who keeps chewing what others have already chewed and spat out.
Previously I went to many places, to many religious groups, and I attended many religious gatherings, but it was never my fortune to glimpse a mahatma, a great soul, who could fully capture my heart.
Diverted Toward Illusion
I have stated that only he who is my role model perpetually, at every single step, can be my master, but some may not agree with me on this matter. It seems to me, though, that those people are simply cheating themselves. I am extremely weak and cynical. If I ever see a person immersed in trying to perform hari-bhajana for half of the twenty-four hours of the day, and then, during the other half, I see him engaged in activities related to sense objects, I hesitate to accept him, to call him my master. The reason is this: it is my nature to only see faults; thus, when that person’s account of his various efforts to obtain sense objects appears in my heart, besides his efforts in hari-bhajana, I reflect on such accounts and immediately fall under the sway of sense objects even more than before. I start to reason that if this person, whom I were to have made my idol, spends some of his time engaging in serving the objects of the senses, then why should I not follow suit, since I am his disciple and he is my guru ?
These types of thoughts take command of my heart and as a result, I choose someone who is a sense enjoyer as my guru. But then I see that instead of having krsna-vastu (that is, someone qualitatively non-different from Krsna – saksad-dharitvena) as my guru, ‘illusion’ has usurped that position. It is illusion that has taken command of my heart in the form of a false guru and is now standing on my head. Therefore, in accordance with the prescription of the scriptures, I have endeavoured to take a firm vow to abandon such illusion.
mantrena nirayam vrajet
punas ca vidhina samyag
(quoted from Sri Narada-pancaratra)
If one receives mantra initiation from a non-devotee (avaisnava), one can only attain a destination in hell. Therefore, one who has done so must take shelter of a bona fide Vaisnava guru and take re-initiation in a full and proper manner, following all the prescribed injunctions.
Therefore, a guru whose form is akin to illusion (maya-rupi-guru*) is an avaisnava, a non-devotee, and initiation or guidance from him will submerge me the hellish regions. Reflecting thus, I took shelter of a Vaisnava guru as per the instructions of scripture. According to the telltale signs of a devotee as specified by Sriman Mahaprabhu, I understand the word ‘Vaisnava’ in this way:
* A guru who is not krsna-vastu, that is, who is not a direct manifestation of Krsna and qualitatively non-different from him (saksad-dharitvena) and not engaged in hari-bhajana twenty-four hours a day.
yanhara darsane mukhe aise krsna-nama
tanhare janiha tumi ‘vaisnava-pradhana’
Sri Caitanya-caritamrta (Madhya-lila 16.74)
Know that person, the sight of whom induces the holy name to burst (sphurita) on to the tongue, to be prominent among Vaisnavas. In other words, he is a foremost maha-bhagavata.
My Master’s Glories
Vaisnavas are perpetually steadfast in their attachment to the holy name. They do not waste their time even for a moment by engaging in any other activity. Therefore, just the sight of such persons causes the holy name to appear in one’s heart. In other words, the desire to perform hari-bhajana arises. It is in this way that my prabhu (master) extended control over my heart. I witnessed how day and night he never spent even a fraction of a moment in any activity other than hari-bhajana, or chanting the holy name. If I had ever observed that he performed hari-bhajana for twenty-three hours, fifty-nine minutes and fifty-nine seconds of the day, but then for the last remaining second directed his attention to some other object, then he would not have been able to exert his lordship over my heart, as I am completely attached to body and home (grha-vrata).
In my life I never heard him prescribe any activity other than hari-bhajana. His one and only instruction was this: “the living entity has no other obligation than continuous hari-bhajana, nor will he ever have any other duty. The knowledge, or conception, that an obligation exists other than hari-bhajana is indeed illusion.”
How much will a society that is madly engrossed in material pursuits and bewildered by knowledge acquired through sense perception take note of and respect my master’s words? This I do not know. Nevertheless, it is quite apparent to me that his words are the one and only directive capable of leading a jiva to his ultimate auspiciousness. In his songs, Srila Narottama Thakura Mahasaya has also condemned all ideas other than this, as follows:
ara jata upalambha visesa sakali dambha
dekhite lagaye mane vyatha
Sri Prema-bhakti-candrika (2.7)
Apart from this, whatever faulty philosophies are there, all are simply displays of arrogance. For one who respects them and makes an effort to understand them, excruciating mental pain will be the only result.
Moreover, this solitary instruction issued from the lips of Sri Bhagavan Gaurasundara Himself: “ kirtaniyah sada hari – sri harinama-sankirtana is to be performed at all times” (Sri Siksastaka 3). Here the word sada means ‘without interruption’. In other words, perpetuity is emphasized.
Tridandipada Sri Prabodhananda Sarasvati also instructs, “ sakalam eva vihaya durad caitanya-candra-carane kurutanuragam – leave all else far behind and develop attachment to the lotus feet of Sri Caitanya-candra” (Sri Caitanya-candramrta 10).
Srila Rupa Gosvami’s anyabhilasita-sunyam verse, as well as the statement by Kapiladeva found in Srimad-Bhagavatam (3.29.12): “ ahaituky avyavahita ya bhaktih purusottame – the bhakti that is performed to Me, Purusottama, is ahaituky, devoid of all desires other than to serve Bhagavan, and avyavahita, free from the obstructions of karma, jnana and so on” (which is quoted in Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu) both celebrate the fact that perpetual, continuous hari-bhajana is the ultimate form of auspiciousness for the living entities.
My spiritual master’s conduct and the kirtana he performs have indeed unceasingly established this fact. Hence, ‘my’ master is he who establishes the innermost desire of Sri Caitanya’s heart and is foremost among rupanugas. The beauty of ‘my’ master’s service attracts even Sri Madana-mohana Himself. My master can take something that is unsightly (kurupa) and make it beautiful (surupa). He can dispel my lowly perception (kudarsana) and transform it into one that is beautiful (sudarsana). My sole desire, life after life, is to long to serve such a master and to aspire for the remnants of the servants of his servants.
Translated from the Hindi book –
Four Rupanuga Vaisnava Acaryas of the Sri Gaudiya Sampradaya, by Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja, from the section on the life of Srila Gaura-kisora dasa Babaji Maharaja
Translated by the Rays of The Harmonist team
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“First Disappearance Day Anniversary Edition”, No.25 (Tirobhava Tithi 2011)
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