From: The Harmonist. No 15. Kartika 2005
Excerpts from a lecture delivered by:
Sri Srimad Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada
in the Sarasvata Assembly Hall, Sri Caitanya Matha, Mayapura
Saturday, 9.00 pm, on the 28th day of the month of Magha (January) 1931
caksur unmilitam yena
tasmai sri-gurave namah
A Golden Opportunity to Serve Collectively
Today I have an opportunity to worship my Sri Gurudeva. Last year, also, I had
the good fortune of worshipping him, and today that auspicious occasion has come
again. By the mercy of Bhagavan, I had the fortune of being able to serve Srila
Gurudeva for another year. If Srila Gurudeva had wanted to deprive me of service
to him, I would not have survived this past year. Since I have been granted this
one year, I must again, today, contemplate whether I have properly taken
advantage of that opportunity and served him accordingly.
Srila Gurudeva said that we shall collectively engage in the service of Bhagavan.
He used the word &q uot;we" which means he was not referring to one person
alone. Many persons egotistically profess, "I am Bhagavan's exclusive servant"
or "I have been selected to perform a particular service to Him because no one
else is qualified to do it." But Srila Gurudeva's words issue from a heart
melted with loving compassion: "Come! Let us forget our tendency to block each
other's spiritual progress; this is violence. Service to Bhagavan is superior to
By saying "superior to all else" he is not implying, "No one can do this service
but me; I will not allow anyone else to do it." My Srila Gurupadapadma's nature
contains no such violence.
Humbly Praying for Help
"Bahubhirmilitva yat kirtanam tadaiva sankirtanam sankirtana means
Glorification and prayers are included in sankirtana. From an external
perspective, one who offers stuti (Ve dic prayers) holds a lower position than
the object of the prayers. A third party however, can best understand the
glories of a person by hearing his prayers.
Sri Gaurasundara explained that to genuinely call out for Bhagavan, one has to
more humble than a blade of grass (trnad api sunicena). We cannot cry out for
someone until we have accepted our own insignificance in relation to that
person. We beg for assistance when we are forced to acknowledge our
helplessness. Whenever we find ourselves incapable of completing a task on our
own, we are left with no choice but to seek another's help. Alone I cannot
complete a task that requires five people to accomplish.
Sri Gaurasundara has instructed us to genuinely cry out for Bhagavan, which
means He has urged us to solicit Sri Bhagavan for help. This we have heard from
Srila Gurudeva. However if I cry out to Him with the intention of involving Him
in service to me, or if I petition Him for the purpose of accomplish ing any
task, my cries lack the real humility of trnad api sunicena. Real humility is
never found in an external show of humility, which is actually mere duplicity.
Calling out to Bhagavan in the mood of being His master, expecting Him to obey
like a servant, is ineffective. He does not hear such a call because He is
supremely independent and fully conscious. Consequently, He is not controlled by
anyone. Until a person's egoism establishes roots in sincere, non-duplicitous
humility, his prayers will not reach Bhagavan, who is fully independent.
A person who is more humble than a blade of grass may cry out to Bhagavan, but
unless he is endowed with the qualities of patience and tolerance, his calling
out will still not bare fruit. If we show impatience by hankering after our own
interests, our behaviour is in direct opposition to the mood of trnad api
sunicena. If we are fully confident that Bhagavan is the Complete Being, and
that our calling out to Him will never result in scarcity, we will not
experience any dearth of patience. But if I become greedy, intolerant and
restless, and if I remain adamant that I will accomplish my task on the strength
of my own ability and competence, I will not be able to call out to Bhagavan in
the true sense.
If we are excessively vain, we cannot properly call out to Him. And also if we
try to annihilate our real self-interest, then we will not be able to cry out to
Bhagavan properly. Often, I think that I am obliging Him by my prayers, and
therefore I engage in other activities in which I don't need to ask for His
help. This mentality also indicates the absence of tolerance.
We therefore require a guardian to save us from such tendencies until we become
qualified to sincerely pray in the mood of trnad api sunicena. His shelter and
support are necessary to shield us from such unfavourable inclinations. Srila
Narottama dasa Thakura says: "asraya laiya bhaje, tanre krsna nahi tyaje, ara
sabe mare akarana one who performs bhajana under the shelter of personalities
who are the abode of love for Krsna, is not neglected by Krsna; everyone else
lives in vain."
We are Incompetent to Proceed Without a Bona Fide Guru
Serving the lotus feet of Srila Gurudeva is our foremost necessity. In this
world, we even need a guru to perform karma (material activities), to acquire
jnana (knowledge) or to fulfill any anyabhilasa (desires not connected to
serving Krsna). The guidance of such worldly gurus engenders insignificant
results, which are the antithesis of the results bestowed by the lotus feet of a
bona fide guru. Srila Gurudeva is the source of our genuine welfare. The very
moment we become bereft of his mercy, diverse worldly desires manifest in our
hearts. And if the vartma-pradarsaka guru, who is the first to tell us about
spiritual life, does not tell us how we should take shelter of the lot us feet
of Srila Gurudeva, we may end up losing the gem in hand.
Nama-bhajana (chanting Krsna's names) is the sole method of performing bhajana,
and it is the only method Srila Gurudeva confers upon us. Consequently, our
responsibility is to worship his lotus feet at the beginning of each year, that
is, every guru-puja. Srila Rupa Gosvami says:
visrambhena guroh seva
[The first four limbs of sadhana-bhakti are: to accept the shelter of the lotus
feet of a bona fide guru, to take diksa and receive instructions on service to
Krsna from him, to serve him with intimacy and affection and to follow the path
of the sadhus, under his guidance." (Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu 1.2.74-75)]
In a realm that is concealed and mystifying, it is impossible to proceed by
depending on one's own multitude of competencies. Just as it is impossible to
foresee the future or making plans for the future on the strength of one's own
ability, similarly, mundane conceptions cannot help one penetrate or attain the
supra-mundane realm. My senses have experience something of the time that has
already passed, and therefore I have knowledge of it, but I remain ignorant
about the future. In the same way, our current senses are incapable of informing
us about that realm that is complete and inconceivable. Our eyes can only see a
few miles into the distance, and our ears can only hear words spoken nearby.
If we depend on our own competence to proceed in such a realm, we will never
reach the far end, the Ultimate Reality. Such an attempt is likened to Ravana's
efforts to build a stairway to heaven. Construction may begin, but it will
eventually crumble to the ground. It cannot exist in a void where no support is
present. Similarly we desire to ascend to that unknown realm, and we try to do
so on the strength of our own competence, but we always fail. Furthermore, if we
consider an ordinary mortal who is laghu (spiritually impotent and not at all
grave) to be guru (weighty with potency), we face failure.
We will have to recognize who is guru and who is laghu. A guru is engaged in
service to that Complete Entity whom all real gurus honour as their sole object
of worship. This does not refer to a guru (teacher) of sitar or physical
exercises. Such a guru cannot save one from the clutches of death.
gurur na sa syat sva-jano na sa syat
pita na sa syaj janani na sa syat
daivam na tat syan na patis ca sa syan
na mocayed yah samupeta-mrtyum
["That guru is not a guru, that father is not a father, that mother is not a
mother, that demigod is not a demigod and that relative is not a relative who
cannot protect us from the clutches of death, cannot bestow eternal life upon us
and cannot protect us from ignorance, because of which we are deeply engrossed
in this material worl d." (Srimad-Bhagavatam 5.5.18)]
Ignorance is the sole reason a person falls into the clutches of death; a person
with knowledge does not. All the education in the world is immediately
dispensable for one who becomes mad or paralysed or who meets with death. Unless
we are searching for the ultimate truth, we tend to become unconscious, or
devoid of real consciousness.
When we are impelled to enjoy our senses, like the tongue, hands, legs, arms and
genitals, we are enchanted and then deceived. It is therefore imperative upon us
to remember Srila Gurupadapadma at the beginning of each year, each month, each
day and at every moment, for he can protect us from all such deception.
Remember Sri Guru Every Day, Every Moment
Our Gurudevas forms are manifold. If he did not manifest himself in various
ways, then who else would protect us? That person whom my Gurudeva has accepted
as his own i s my saviour. I do not want to see the faces of vile persons who
criticize my Gurudeva or who support those who criticize him. They are the cause
of all inauspiciousness.
The very instant I deviate from or forget the lotus feet of Srila Gurudeva, who
is continuously attracting me to his lotus feet, at that very moment I am
unquestionably deprived of the Truth. Upon such deviation, I became engrossed in
contemplating countless scarcities. I hurry to bathe in a holy place, and I
become busy protecting myself from the cold. In this way I chase after
activities other than service to Srila Gurudeva.
My Gurudeva constantly protects me from dvitiya-abhinivesa, becoming absorbed in
activities separate from the interest of Bhagavan. If I do not remember my
Gurudeva at the beginning of each year, each month, each day, and at every
moment, I will surely fall further away from the path of bhakti. Consequently, I
myself will wish to be recognized as guru, and the sinister contemplation of how
others will worship me will invade my mind.
This alone is dvitiya-abhinivesa. We have not assembled here to perform guru-puja
just for today, but to begin performance of it at every moment, forever.
Sri Gaurasundara is Krsna Himself who came to this Earth as jagad-guru, the
spiritual master of the whole world, and spoke Siksastaka. May the mahanta-gurus
(exalted, manifest gurus) and all great Vaisnavas who are surrendered to their
lotus feet, impart all aspects of the teachings of Siksastaka to us. May they
deliver us from our calamitous situation.
My Gurudeva Appears to Me
Our spiritual masters (asraya-jatiya guru-varga)
are the abodes of love. They appear to us in different forms to bestow their
mercy upon us. They are reflected in all objects and in every entity. Indeed,
they ar e the special manifestations of Srila Gurudeva, he who imparts
divya-jnana, transcendental knowledge. The object of love, Krsna (visaya-jatiya),
is one half of the equation, and the abode of love, Sri Guru (asraya-jatiya), is
the other half. Their combination results in a complete whole through vilasa
vaicitrya (wonderfully variegated pastimes). Sri Krsna is the complete
manifestation of the object of love, and Srila Gurudeva is the complete
perception of the abode of love. When the transcendental reflection of
asraya-jatiya tattva falls upon any conscious being, he is to be understood as a
manifestation of my Gurudeva. Gurudeva is that person whose behaviour at every
moment instructs us that our entire life is meant for serving Bhagavan. That
very Gurudeva is reflected in the heart of every living being and is situated in
every entity as asraya-jatiya tattva.
ye nye parart ha-bhavaka yamunopakulah
samsantu krsna-padavim rahitatmanam nah
[O mango, priyala, jackfruit, asana and kovidara trees! O trees of jambu, arka,
bilva and bakula! O amra, kadamba and nipa trees, as well as all other plants
and trees growing along Yamunas shores whose lives are devoted to benefiting
others, we have lost our minds in the agony of separation from Sri Krsna, so
please tell us where He has gone. (Srimad-Bhagavatam 10.30.9)]
Sri Krsna disappeared from the rasa-sthali (the place of the rasa-lila), and the
gopis, who are eternally liberated souls, approached each and every living
entity in search of Him. Did the gopis simply depend upon the knowledge acquired
through their senses to find Him? We receive the opportunity to hear about these
subjects from our Gurudeva. The variegated transcendental pastimes of
Nanda-Govinda, Yasoda-Govinda, Sridama-Sudama-Govinda, Citraka-Patraka-Govinda,
Vamsi-Govinda, Go-Govinda and Kad amba-Govinda are accounts of the rasa-laden
pastimes of Sri Sri Radha-Govinda.
If a person is blessed with the darsana of Sri Guru in his heart, or if he makes
a place in his mind where Sri Guru can wander, then such pastimes are revealed
in his heart. The one and only way to attain service to the Complete Being is to
worship that person who, by his every activity, encourages us to serve the
Complete Being. Our Gurudevas image, reflected in many different ways,
constantly manifests newer and newer lessons for us.
My Gurudeva manifests in various repositories and, upon seeing their attitude of
service to Bhagavan, I pray that I may spend thousands and thousands of
lifetimes serving Sri Hari in their association, and that my aversion to serving
Him, which has prevailed for millions of lifetimes, is finally destroyed.
Everyone is Advancing Except Me
Once I went to Mangala-giri in South Ind ia to establish the sacred impressions
of Sriman Mahaprabhus footprints. A devotee amongst us raised this doubt: When
I first came to the matha, I noted the character of the matha residents and
their attachment o serving Bhagavan. This impressed and inspired me and I
cherished a high aspiration to be like them. But now, the standard I once
envisioned attaining has lessened considerably. I am engrossed in various
mundane thoughts such as thinking about the many brahmacaris who have turned to
their homes and entered household life.
In reply I said, I cannot say that they have left hari-bhajana just because
they have returned to their homes. In fact I see each and every one of those
brahmacaris as amazing Vaisnavas and that their Vaisnava qualities and devotion
for the Lord have increased manifold. What a wicked atheist I used to be, but my
wickedness substantially abated in their association. I see that I am averse to
Bhagavan, but they a ll are engaged in hari-bhajana. By the mercy of Srila
Raghunatha Bhatta Gosvami, I have come to know this verse:
vaisnavera nindyakarma na pade kane
sabe krsna bhaje tinha ai matra jane
[Gossip about Vaisnavas indulging in abominable activities should never enter
my ears. I should only see that all persons are serving Krsna.]
From my perspective, everybody is advancing in hari-bhajana, and this universe,
which was created by Bhagavan, is prospering in every respect. Everyone except
me is receiving spiritual benefit. You have become restless without due reason,
and because you are intensely eager to serve Bhagavan you want the devotees who
left to also be increasingly keen to engage in hari-bhajana. They are, however,
engaged in hari-bhajana. Still you are dissatisfied and want their exuberance to
serve their beloved Lord to increase a million-fold. My heart, on the contrary,
is meager and unable to accommodate the magnitude of their bhajana of Sri Hari.
They exemplified living according to an astonishingly high ideal. The only
person who is incapable of performing hari-bhajana is me, because I busy myself
with finding faults in others. How, then, can I ever make progress?
Enthusiastic to Find Faults
Who finds faults in the Vaisnavas? Those
who depend on their senses to acquire knowledge. Their senses the eyes, ears,
nose and so forth are their sole support; hence external objects deceive them.
In other words, those who are averse to hari-bhajana find faults with the
Vaisnavas. When a person tells me that someone has stopped chanting his harinama,
I think, He must have become highly elevated at heart as a result of so much
chanting. This is why he has left the path of bhajana, which is the sole source
of ones welfare, a nd become engaged in other activities. Only a rich man is so
content that he does not care to earn more.
In Srimad Bhagavad-gita, Bhagavan says: na me bhaktah pranasyati My devotees
never perish or face misfortune.
api cet su-duracaro
bhajate mam ananya-bhak
sadhur eva sa mantavyah
samyag vyavasito hi sah
[If even a man of abominable character worships Me with single-pointed focus,
he is still to be considered a sadhu because he is rightly situated in bhakti.
ksipram bhavati dharmatma
name bhaktah pranasyati
[He quickly becomes virtuous and attains eternal peace. O Kaunteya, declare it
boldly that My devotee never perishes. (Bhagavad-gita 9.31)]
Can anyone who is one-pointed and unflinching in his performance of hari-bhajana
ever become degraded? They have doubtlessly attained full auspiciousness. Our
attitude, however, is defective, and this is why we do not attain our own
na prasamsen na garhayet
visvam ekamakam pasyan
prakrtya purusena ca
[Sri Bhagavan said: Do not criticise or praise the conditioned nature and
activities of others. View this world as a combination of material nature and
souls who have an enjoying propensity, both based on the one Ultimate Reality.
If I depend on my sense-perception for information I will remain deprived of
service to the Lord, who is beyond the perception of the senses (adhoksaja), and
of Srila Gurudeva. I have not attained my own welfare, but still I meditate on
the auspicious behaviour of others, and although I myself am full of
shortcomings, I am enthusiastic to find faults in others. If I ever began to
really focus on my own welfare, would I have time to obse rve anothers
krsneti yasya giri tam manasadriyeta
diksasti cet pranatibhis ca bhajantam isam
susrusaya bhajana-vijnam ananyam anya-
nindadi sunya-hrdam ipsita-sanga-labdhya
[One who chants Krsnas name just once is a neophyte devotee (kanistha-adhikari).
One should consider him to be his family member and silently respect him. One
who, fully understanding the principle of diksa, has accepted initiation from a
qualified guru and performs bhajana of Bhagavan in accordance with Vaisnava
conventions is an intermediate devotee (madhyama-adhikari). One should respect
such a devotee who is endowed with the correct understanding of reality and
illusion by offering him pranama and so forth. One who is adept in the science
of bhajana as described in Srimad-Bhagavatam and other Vaisnava scriptures, and
who performs exclusive bhajana of Sri Krsna, is a maha-bhagavata devotee. Due to
his undeviating absorption in Krs na, the pure heart of such a devotee is free
from faults such as the tendency to criticize others. He is expert in bhajana,
meaning that he mentally renders service (manasa-seva) to Sri Radha-Krsnas
pastimes which take place during the eight segments of the day (asta-kaliya-lila).
Knowing him to be a topmost devotee whose heart is established in the particular
mood of service to Sri Radha-Krsna for which one aspires, and who is
affectionately disposed towards oneself, one should honour him by offering
dandavat-pranama, making relevant inquiry and rendering service with great
love. (Upadesamrta, verse 5)]
Our lives are short. Last year we gathered here to worship Srila Gurudeva. Since
then, those who received the mercy of Bhagavan have departed from this world.
However, for the purpose of finding faults in others and to show an example of
the absence of trnad api sunicena, we are in this material world absorbed in
The s lightest tendency to find faults in others is completely absent in Srila
Gurudeva. At the same time, his sole function is to kindly point out our
hundreds and thousands of faults, which are the cause of our misfortune. May we
not lose sight of this quality of Srila Gurudeva.
If I live for one more year, then I will absorb myself in the service of
Gurudeva at every moment from today onward and give up my tendency to criticize
others. I will not say, I am valorous, scholarly and a gifted speaker; he is
foolish, ignorant and cannot express anything. On the strength of exclusive
absorption in hari-katha, I will not foster an attitude of aversion to Bhagavan,
and thus I will become truly benefited.
Sadhaka and Siddha are Not the Same
kalo mayatigamitah kila sampratam hi
tamce krpam mayi vidhasyaci n aiva kim me;
pranairvrajena ca varoru vakarinapi
[O Varoru (girl with beautiful thighs), I am passing my time with the sole hope
of being able to serve You. If You withhold Your mercy, what value to me are
this life, the land of Vraja, and Sri Krsna, the enemy of Baka? (Vilapa-kusumanjali,
Some people ask me, Why dont you give siddha-pranali (the identity of ones
eternal relationship with Krsna)? However, I cannot understand how a sadhaka
and a siddha can be on the same level. How can one in the stage of sadhana that
is full of anarthas cultivate the activities of sadhana that is free from
anarthas or that of siddhi (the stage of perfection)? If someone is siddha,
self-realized, and he mercifully reveals his svarupa to me, then only can I come
to know his eternal constitutional form.
In madhura-rasa Srila Gurudeva is Varsabhanavi (Sri Radha). According to a
persons eternal natu re, he will see that same Sri Gurudeva as a certain
absolute reality (vastu). One in the mood of a parent sees him as Nanda-Yasoda.;
one in the mood of a friend sees him as Sridama-Sudama and one in the mood of a
servitor sees him as Citraka-Patraka.
The truth of who is visaya and who is
asraya appears in the heart of one who remains engaged in service to Srila
Gurudeva. This truth does not manifest in the heart by an artificial means. When
the tendency to serve arises in a fortunate soul, this truth automatically
appears in his heart. We are not obliged to serve anyone other than our Gurudeva.
The nature of nitya-lila (Krsnas eternal pastimes with His devotees), which
even Sesa, Siva, Brahma and others cannot conceive of, will never be realized by
one whose consciousness is polluted with mundane conceptions.
I offer my obeisances unto the lotus feet of you all, my guru-varga.