sri sri guru gauranga jayatah!
Year 6, Special On-line Edition
Posted: 26 December 2013
nitya-lila pravista om visnupada
Sri Srimad Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Gosvami Maharaja
Inspired by and under the guidance of
Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja
Dedicated Servants of Śrī Hari,
Guru, and Vaiṣṇavas Never Suffer
by Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktivedānta Vāmana Gosvāmī Mahārāja
Śrī Śrī Guru-Gaurāṅga Jayataḥ
Śrī Devānanda Gauḍīya Maṭha
Teghari-pāda, Navadvīpa (Nadiiya)
Dec 25, 1972
Dear recipient of my affection,*
* This letter was written to Śrī-yukta Umā Didi
Those who are in the category of guru-tattva (true representatives of the Absolute Truth) do not possess bodies composed of the five gross elements. Consequently when they appear to be in a state of ill health, it has been referred to as “abhinaya”, or a performance. Yet the custom of inquiring about the welfare of someone’s body, mind, and soul is proper etiquette. This custom of exchanging goodwill in relation to these three things with everyone – who are all the recipients of our affection and honour – is also prevalent in the society of saintly devotees. In letters and other forms of correspondence between Vaiṣṇavas, one Vaiṣṇava prays for the “physical and spiritual well being” of the other, or for their “spiritual well being in every respect”. Even though one may inquire after these three things – body, mind and soul – one must not then assume guru and Vaiṣṇavas to be in some way mundane; one must not consider them to have this shortcoming. Then there will be no chance of perceiving the transcendent as material and thus committing offence.
Who would not be in anxiety upon hearing that a loved one is sick?
Śrīla Vṛndāvana Dāsa Ṭhākura has written, “yata dekha vaiṣṇavera vyavahāra duḥkha, niścaya jānio sei parānanda sukha – if one perceives distress in a devotee’s behaviour, know with certainty that it is actually the utmost ecstatic bliss.” Only he who is imbued with true devotion – whether a householder or a mendicant sannyāsī; whether a scholar or a fool – is a Vaiṣṇava. In the course of carrying out their sojourns through the corporeal plane, various forms of distress may even come to the physical and mental functions of Vaiṣṇavas. For devotees of the Lord, however, the occurrence of such distress is momentary and invariably leads to happiness.
A temporary life full of indulgence and attachment to mundane objects is all non-devotees have. So when physical and mental afflictions befall them, even to a small degree, they are easily bewildered. To mitigate their suffering they do not hesitate even to go as far as tormenting others. “Life is full of agony, and of death there is constant fear.” Such is the dire finale of those who indulge in gross pleasures.
But those who have dedicated their lives to the service of Śrī Hari, guru, and Vaiṣṇavas are not afflicted by fear of death or other forms of suffering; they are composed and steadfast. A devotee’s life is free from distress, trouble, and calamity; and they are never the cause of another’s sorrow or difficulty. “In maintaining my life, I will not give anxiety or distress to others. I will give up my personal happiness and work for the welfare of others.” They are thoroughly established in this mentality. Giving up worldly comforts and riches, the devotees are endlessly fixed in their spiritual practice (bhajana-niṣṭha) without wasting their time. For this reason, they are fearless, undaunted, and intent on the worship of eternal truth.
Śrī guru and Bhagavān are the shelter and resort of the shelterless. This is why the practicing devotee says, “I am without shelter, O Lord of the Universe (Jagadīśa), please protect me,” and takes refuge at their sublime feet. “You are the shelter of those without shelter, my dear master. You are family for those without it. You are the solace of those in distress and grief. You are the one who rectifies mistakes.” Many people pray in this manner also.
Śrī guru and Bhagavān are affectionate to their refugees; they take care of those who are surrendered to them. Toward those under their guidance, their supra-mundane affection is natural and spontaneous. “ami vijña sei murkha viṣaya kena diba sva-caraṇāmṛta dīya viṣaya bhulibo – I know what is right for him, and he is a fool. Why should I give him material things to enjoy? I will give him the nectar of My feet (caraṇāmṛta) and make him forget these fleeting things” (Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 22.39). This is certainly how they make their divine parental affection known. The responsibility guru and Bhagavān accept in regard to the lives of those surrendered to them is not time-sensitive. This connection is eternal and everlasting. They are my close relatives for all eternal time. “cākṣu dāna dila jei, janme janme prabhu sei – He who has given me the eyes to see [absolute reality] is my master birth after birth” (Prārthanā).
Those living entities still in the clutches of unwanted habits (anarthas) tend to make offences in the course of their spiritual practices. Their mundane speech and mind is usually active. “nāmāparādha-yuktānāma namani eva haranty-gham – for those chanting with offences, the holy name Himself will gradually remove all obstacles” (Padma Purāṇa). This offers total and certain solace for them. When anxiety persists in regard to one’s spiritual practice (sādhana-bhajana), Śrī Bhagavān, the indwelling Supersoul in everyone’s heart, resolves all matters. “He is so merciful that He can turn a crow into Garuḍa (Lord Viṣṇu’s eagle carrier).” There is no comparison to His compassion and generosity. Even to those who are unqualified, He grants the eligibility to practice spiritual life (sādhana-bhajana).
Thus I conclude.
Your eternal well-wisher,
Śrī Bhaktivedānta Vāmana