sri sri guru gauranga jayatah!
Year 10, Special On-line Edition
Posted: 11 November 2017
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
The Sole Support for the Sādhaka
śrī śrī guru-gaurāṅgau jayataḥ
Śrī Vāsudeva Gauḓīya Maṭha
P.O. Vāsugāon (Gowālpāḍā) Assam
12 June 1971
Dear recipient of my affection,
It is natural for the heart to become restless when there is no news of a dear one.
As long as the body, which is made of five elements, remains, both its health and illness remain. For one situated in a [human] body, endeavouring for the well-being of the embodied self is indeed the symptom of intelligence. “Yāvat jīvo nivasati dehe, kuśalaṁ tāvat pṛcchati gehe – A person’s well-being is inquired about in his own house for as long as his soul resides in his body.” The soul bound by māyā, however, cannot know, nor does he have the capacity to understand, what is best for the self. One who is absorbed in the cultivation of the self (ātmānuśīlana) is truly learned and a seer of truth (tattva-darśī).
The merciful glance of guru and Vaiṣṇavas is cast upon the spiritual practitioner (sādhaka) always. Their blessing makes possible everything that is impossible. It can enable even a cripple to cross mountains and can render a mute voluble. By eagerly engaging in service to Śrī Hari, guru and Vaiṣṇavas with a simple heart, and continuously performing śrī nāma-bhajana, all anathas are driven far away. By daily chanting the holy name with care and attention, regularly deliberating upon the devotional scriptures and seizing any opportunity to hear hari-kathā,one makes advancement on the path of devotion.
By performing worship through processes such as arcana, one’s consciousness is purified and the fickle mind becomes tranquil. Someone puffed up with false ego cannot, despite trying, approach the substantial reality (tattva-vastu) by their own endeavour alone. For this, the grace of guru and Vaiṣṇavas is also required. Perfection is reached through a combination of endeavour (sādhana) and grace (kṛpā). Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s pastime of being bound around the waist (dāma-bandhana-līlā) is evidences of this.
When a mood of humility (dainya-bhāva) enters the heart of the sādhaka, he is considered a suitable recipient of guru and Vaiṣṇavas’ grace. The magnanimity of great souls is celebrated by all. The twenty-six qualities of sādhus are indeed the radiant illustration of this magnanimity. Even though these qualities – such as mercy (dayā), magnanimity (vadānyatā), compassion (karuṇā) and respecting all without expecting respect in return (amānī-mānada-dharma) – are ideal for the people of this world, the quality of one-pointed surrender to Kṛṣṇa (kṛṣṇaika-śaraṇatā) is foremost among them.
Only he who is fully reliant on the grace of the Lord and who is the embodiment of the six limbs of surrender can give instructions on service to Bhagavān (the Lord) and to bhāgavata (devotional scriptures and devotees), and he alone can be called Gosvāmī. Such a bona fide guru sees all the people of the world as servants of the Lord, and even considers those who have exclusively accepted grace and shelter from him [his disciples] as opulence meant for serving Bhagavān.
The bona fide guru does not make anyone his disciple. Rather, his heart is pervaded with a desire to become a true disciple himself. Those who consider themselves qualified to discipline their attendants (sevakas) are conceited and can never be called guru. However, that person is a true Vaiṣṇava and a bona fide (sad) guru when, concealed within his natural respect for all and lack of any expectiion of respect in return (amānī-mānada-dharma) and his mood of feeling lower than straw (tṛṇādapi sunīca), is the mood of vajrādapi kaṭhorāṇi mṛduni kusumādapi – being simultaneously harder than a thunderbolt and softer than a flower.
By the mercy of such a great soul, even those who are devoid of bhakti and who are sinful and godless attain complete, eternal auspiciousness. We have heard from the lips of sādhu-guru-vaiṣṇavas that even the demigods do not have the capacity to recognize a Vaiṣṇava – vaiṣṇava cinite nāre dever śakati. How should we behave toward someone who exhibits envy toward bona fide gurus and Vaiṣṇavas? The Vaiṣṇava mahājanas have informed us of the following: “vaiṣṇava-caritra, sarvadā pavitra, ĵei ninde hiṁsā kôri’ bhakativinoda nā sambhāṣe tāre, thāke sadā maun dhôri – Bhaktivinoda never converses with those who, out of envy, criticise and harm Vaiṣṇavas, who are always of pure character. Instead, he remains silent” (Kalyāṇa-kalpataru, Prārthanā Lālasāmayī). This is the meaning of giving up bad association (asat-saṅga tyāga).
Devotees welcome simple faith in devotion (śraddhā), or a devotional mood, but others greatly revere formality, or the etiquette of proper social dealings. Formality and frankness are complete opposites. People in general love worldly social customs. For them, this defines the word civilization, and they use the word ‘barbarian’ to ridicule others [who do not observe the same formalities]. Nowadays, simplicity is taken to mean stupidity. In this way, the difference between the material and the spiritual worlds is like the difference between heaven and hell.
yā niśā sarva-bhūtānāṁ / tasyāṁ jāgarti saṁyamī
yasyāṁ jāgrati bhūtāni / sā niśā paśyato muneḥ
[Spiritual intelligence, which is directed toward the soul, is like night for materialistic common people, who are enchanted by the material energy. One who is stitha-prajña, however, remains awake in that intelligence. And when intelligence is absorbed in sense objects, the common person remains awake. For the sage who perceives transcendental Reality, that consciousness is the darkest night. In other words, such a person accepts sense objects in an appropriate way, without being attached to them.]
By deliberating on this verse, you can understand this comprehensively. Bhakti is the mood, or language, of the heart. The presence of bhakti in a stanza or expression gives it success and meaning. Without devotion, any charming verse or composition is meaningless and like a pilgrimage place for crows. “Bhakti-puṣpa kothā pāi, bhakati candana nāi, ki diye pūjibô āmi? – Where can I find the flower of devotion? Without the sandalwood paste of devotion, with what shall I perform worship?” In this way, the practitioner aspiring for bhakti submits his offering of faith at the feet of the Lord.
By the causeless mercy of guru and Vaiṣṇavas, linguistic knowledge and fine speech manifest. Dhruva, upon attaining the audience of Śrī Hari, whose eyes are like lotus petals, desired to offer prayers to Him. The Lord touched His conch, which is imbued with all the knowledge of the Vedas, to the cheek of Dhruva. Thereafter, Dhruva was no longer lost for words and proceeded to sing to his heart’s content an unstoppable stream of verse in praise of Śrī Hari’s transcendental qualities.
Hence, great Vaiṣṇava personalities have sung [in the concluding stanza of “Vaiṣṇava-vandana”]: “tathāpi mūkera bhāgya manera ullāsa doṣa kṣami’ mo-adhame karô nija dāsa – yet, even one who is dumb [such as me] is greatly fortunate and joyful at heart [to have an opportunity to glorify Vaiṣṇavas]. [O Vaiṣṇavas,] forgive the faults of this fallen soul and make me your own servant.”
And: “śrī guru-caraṇa-padma, kevala bhakati-sadma, vandõ muĩ sāvadhāna-mate – the lotus feet of śrī guru are the treasure house of unalloyed prema-bhakti. I worship those lotus feet with great care.”
Moreover: “guru-vaiṣṇava guṇa gāna, korile jīver trāṇa – by glorifying guru and Vaiṣṇavas, the jīva is delivered from material existence.”
It is natural for everyone to feel eager to sing these glories and to feel capable of doing so. Still, be careful of offences that are caused by a lack of eloquence – or, in other words, foolishness. It is necessary to take shelter of caution. However, if a person’s nature is simple, guru and Vaiṣṇavas do not consider any of his offences, faults or shortcomings. This alone is our hope and refuge.
Through the indwelling Supersoul (antaryāmi), Śrī Hari, guru and Vaiṣṇavas fill the practitioners heart with inspiration. There is no reason to not believe this. To submit [unto guru and Vaiṣṇavas] all the feelings in one’s heart, without duplicity, is indeed complete surrender (śaranāgatī) and is what is meant by fully following in their footsteps (anugatya). In this way, one’s life becomes truly blessed, and the jīva’s life is fulfilled and successful. The assuring words of guru and Vaiṣṇavas lift a devotee to the highest summit of sādhana-bhajana.
By performing one’s sādhana with niṣṭhā, one attains grace (kṛpā). That grace, which is the living being’s good fortune, arises in the sky of his spiritual destiny. Only in the radiance of guru and Kṛṣṇa’s grace may one happen to attain their audience (darśana) in actuality. For this, also, one needs patience and steadfastness.
“Nitāiyer caraṇa satya, tā̃hāra sevaka nitya – the lotus feet of Nitāi are eternal truth, and His servitors are eternally His.” Similarly, the relationship between guru and disciple is eternal truth. The relationship between the one pointed servant (sevaka) and the master (sevya) is demonstrated in the following dealings:
seī bhakta—dhanya, ĵe nā chāḓe prabhur caraṇa |
sei prabhu—dhanya, ĵe nā chāḓe nija-jana ||
durdaive sevaka ĵadi ĵāya anya sthāne |
sei prabu dhanya, tāre cule dhôri' āne ||
That devotee is blessed who never leaves the feet of his master. That master is virtuous who never abandons those who are his own. If, by bad fortune, the servant leaves him and goes elsewhere, that master is glorious who drags him back by the hair.
Thus, I conclude
Your ever well-wisher,
Śrī Bhaktivedānta Vāmana
This letter was written to Śrī-yukta Umā dīdī.
Translated from Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Vāmana Gosvāmī Mahārāja’s Patrāvalī
by the Rays of The Harmonist team