sri sri guru gauranga jayatah!
Year 2, Issue 12, Amāvasyā Special Edition
Posted: 14 December 2020
Dedicated to and Inspired by
nitya-lila pravista om visnupada
Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Māhārāja
Serving Śrī Guru with Heartfelt Affection
Appearing in English for the first time
Service performed to śrī guru is of two kinds: as a duty and not as a duty, due to it being performed with heartfelt anurāga (affection). In this verse, anurāga is being referred to, not duty. That indeed is known as viśrambheṇa guroḥ sevā.
Now, properly understand how such service is performed. A sādhaka, who is niṣkapaṭa (free from duplicity), left his home and eventually met his gurujī. He received dīkṣā from him and gradually started receiving śikṣā also. He thus began to progress in bhajana, practising śravaṇaṁ kīrtanaṁ viṣṇoḥ smaraṇaṁ pāda-sevanam arcanaṁ vandanaṁ dāsyaṁ sakhyam ātma-nivedanam (Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 7.5.23). Try to understand this thoroughly. He gave prominence to sādhana, or practising the nine limbs of bhakti. He used to offer praṇāma to gurujī in the morning, touch his feet, recite stava-stuti as per the custom, and at his utmost, offer flowers to his feet. This is ordinary service to guru.
Another type of service to śrī guru is as follows: “I’ll perform śravaṇa, kīrtana and other limbs of bhakti as a secondary preference, not as my primary preference. If, after performing service to gurujī, there is any time left, I'll sit in an assembly and hear hari-kathā, chant harināma, practise smaraṇaṁ and so forth. If there is no time left after serving him, I’ll do those activities later. Let me first serve gurujī.” This is the special kind of service to śrī guru.
“Yasya deve parā bhaktiḥ yathā deve tathā gurau – the bhakti one has for Śrī Kṛṣṇa is equal to one’s bhakti for śrī gurudeva.” This is the principle. In the preliminary stages, however, one should possess more bhakti for one’s guru than for Bhagavān. But the guru should be of that kind [a pure guru] and so should the disciple. Then that [equal devotion to Kṛṣṇa] happens naturally.
How did our Śrī Govinda serve Mahāprabhu? Viśrambheṇa guroḥ sevā. This is how he served, and this is how service to guru should be done. This viśrambheṇa guroḥ sevā is a special type of service to guru. At our current stage, it is not advised that we serve Kṛṣṇa only, as we haven’t yet developed that much of a relationship (sambandha) with Him. Śravaṇa, kīrtana and other limbs of bhakti are performed in relation to one’s worshipable object. Understand gurujī to be sarva-devamayo guruḥ (the embodiment of all the devas – Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 11.17.27). If one has niṣṭhā like this for guru, then bhakti will automatically manifest.
There are lākhas of examples of this. Kṛṣṇa and Sudama underwent so much hardship, observing which their guru blessed them, “May you perfectly master all [your lessons].” Even if they studied for thousands of years, they couldn’t have attained that much. Therefore, if one’s guru is an uttama-bhāgavata, all-capable, he can control Bhagavān due to his matured relationship with Him. Just by his desire, he can transmit bhakti from his heart into the heart of his disciple.
If one tries to perform service to such a guru independently and whimsically, it is not sevā. Understand the nature of the service you are performing to gurujī. Our Śrī Govinda, who is Mahāprabhu’s sevaka, performed sevā to his gurudeva – Mahāprabhu – so ardently, that he thinks, “Why does Svarūpa Dāmodara come and make Mahāprabhu cry all night?” Do you understand? Govinda was not a fool. He wrote a kārikā (doctrine in verse form), which is known as Govindajī’s kaḍacā (notebook). He was not foolish like we are. He could compose verses in Sanskrit. He penned-down Mahāprabhu’s pastimes in his kārikā, which Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī referred to, to write Caitanya-caritāmṛta.
Therefore, what cannot be accomplished by guru-sevā alone? If one’s guru is of that kind [a pure guru], then, solely by performing service to him in this way, sarvaṁ siddhyati (all perfection is attained) by his mercy and all anarthas are removed. By guru-sevā only, it will be done. And those anarthas will never return. Guru gives sādhu-saṅga, speaks hari-kathā, and engages one in service to Bhagavān. By continually hearing hari-kathā [from him], all anarthas such as lust, anger, greed and the intoxication born of pride disappear completely. This is the significance of this special way of serving.
Translated by the Rays of The Harmonist team