śrī śrī guru gaurāṅga jayataḥ!

Rays of The Harmonist On-Line Edition

Year 16, Special Edition
Posted: 27 February 2024

Dedicated to
nitya-līlā praviṣṭa oṁ viṣṇupāda

Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Gosvāmī Mahārāja

Inspired by and under the guidance of
nitya-līlā praviṣṭa oṁ viṣṇupāda

Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja

Special On-line Edition for the disappearance day of
Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Gosvāmī Mahārāja

Śrī Guru-pūjā

by Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti-prajñāna Keśava Gosvāmī Mahārāja

A summary of a talk given on the śrī vyāsa-pūjā of
Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākūra Prabhupāda
at Śrī Uddhāraṇa Gauḍīya Maṭha, Chuṅchurā
3 Feburary, 1961

Dīkṣā-guru and śikṣā-guru

Another name for śrī guru-pūjā is śrī vyāsa-pūjā. Vyāsadeva delivers śikṣā (teachings), so he is śikṣā-guru. Guru is of two types: śikṣā-guru and dīkṣā-guru. From the perspective of the path of arcana, worship of guru-pādapadma [or one’s dīkṣā-guru] is to be performed first.

Even though śikṣā-guru and dīkṣā-guru are one, “I know the śikṣā-guru to be Kṛṣṇa’s own nature – śikṣā-guruke ta jāni kṛṣṇera svarūpa,” at the same time, it is one’s duty to worship one’s dīkṣā-guru before any other.

If one deliberates on this minutely, one can see that the guru who gives mantra is topmost. He who rescues one from manana-dharma (the tendency of the mind to accept and reject) or the very means by which he rescues, is mantra. Because śabda-brahma alone delivers us from manana-dharma, the mantra-guru [dīkṣā-guru] is certainly topmost. It is one’s duty to worship the mantra-guru first because he bestows the mantra to attain Kṛṣṇa. Veda-vyāsa has been accepted as śikṣā-guru. The śikṣā-guru is he who assimilates all teachings and then imparts them.

Śikṣā-guru gives instruction on how to serve the dīkṣā-guru. One who is averse to giving instruction on service to the dīkṣā-guru cannot be called a śikṣā-guru. He cannot even be a Vaiṣṇava, as he has not learned how to honour the dīkṣā-guru. Imagine how such so-called teachers would treat their dīkṣā-guru! Those not qualifying to be called a real guru is a separate topic. A false (asad) guru is always to be given up.

Vaiṣṇava-sevā is guru-sevā

Service to the Vaiṣṇavas is service to guru: “chāḓiyā vaiṣṇava-sevā nistāra peyeche kebā – who has ever gained deliverance by abandoning the service of Vaiṣṇavas?” Doing what the Vaiṣṇavas want, acting in accordance with their desires, is vaiṣṇava-sevā. Service means pleasing the object of one’s service. If one has not done that, one has not performed service. Therefore, scripture mentions: “guror ājñā hy avicāraṇīyāguru’s order is to be followed without deliberation.” The disciples’ sole duty is to follow the guru’s orders without deliberation. “Mārabi rākhabi ĵo icchā tohārā | nitya dāsa prati tuyā adhikārā – Slay me or protect me; whatever you wish. You have full rights over your eternal servant.” A disciple’s sole desire should be the guru’sdelight. To please him, a genuine disciple is ready to accept all manner of difficulties.

A true disciple gives his life in the service of Hari, Guru, and Vaiṣṇavas

The servant who is determinedly dedicated to spiritual welfare is compared to one who, in the corporeal realm, gives his life to serve his country. For the disciple to give his life in the service of Hari, Guru, and Vaiṣṇavas is the greatest vow. If the disciple is not prepared to do this, he must know he has not honoured his discipleship.The real symptom of a disciple is that he has offered everything at his guru’s lotus feet. “May everyone in the world, not just me, become the servant of my guru.” A genuine disciple should desire such an attitude. To serve śrī guru, a real disciple gathers the best flowers in the world and places them on his offering tray. It is this self-surrendering tendency that is guru-pūjā, or sevā. Such a tendency is not of this world, being born of Vaikuṇṭha ideals.

Excellent service to gurudeva is possible only for those who are jīvanmukta (liberated in this life). Guru-sevācannot possibly be rendered by those ensnared in the mundane flow of thought that is characteristic of materially conditioned living entities. When Śrī Sūta Gosvāmī was discussing the Bhāgavata in Naimiṣāraṇya, all the ṛṣis (great personalities who had realization of transcendence, brahma) gathered there to listen. Even those with realization of brahma pray for the mercy of a guru-sevaka. It is not the servant of Hari who is topmost; it is the servant of guru. That is why sixty thousand ṛṣis surrendered to guru-sevaka Sūta Gosvāmī and became thirsty to hear Bhāgavata from him. Even ṛṣis revere and worship a guru-sevaka.

Shining examples of guru-sevā

Those bathed in the current of impersonalist thought quote, in relation to guru-tattva, the following statement, which is written in Ajñāna Bodhinī*: “anavagata svātguru is unacquainted [with brahma].” In this way, the impersonalists teach and learn how to disrespect śrī guru. They think of guru as a-guru, or laghu [meaning “light” instead of weighty, or significant]. How can a person be worthy of the title “guru” if he is anavagata,“unacquainted”, if he is atattva-darśī, “not a seer of the Truth”?

* The book by Śaṅkarācārya is Jñāna Bodhinī, or “knowledge awakener”. Since here, “knowledge” refers to knowledge of Bhagavān’s impersonal feature, and “awakening” refers to an attempt to become one with that feature, Śrīla Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Gosvāmī Mahārāja has referred to the book as Ajñāna Bodhinī, or “ignorance awakener.”

The account of Śaṅkara’s display of yogic power in the case of Ānandagiri is worth noting.[See endnote] Padmapāda disrespected guru-sevaka Ānandagiri, thus acting improperly. By Śaṅkara’s wish, Ānandagiri praised his guru(Śaṅkarācārya), astounding everyone. Padmapāda prayed for forgiveness from that guru-sevaka. Service to guru is the cause of all auspiciousness. We must indeed remember this. Padmapāda himself exhibited the ideal of service to guru when he rescued his gurudeva from the clutches of the Kāpālikas.

Rāmānujācārya’s disicple Kureśa perceived King Kṛmikaṇṭha’s enviousness of his gurudeva’s preaching and that he was planning to kill Rāmānujācārya [because King Kṛmikaṇṭha had summoned Rāmānujācārya to a debate]. [Risking his life,] Kureśa went to the debate in his guru’s place and defeated that king. Only disciples with such a disposition are successful in their service to guru.

Jagad-guru Śrīla Prabhupāda also experienced a similar incident. Since Prabhupāda propagated Śrī Rāmānuja’s system of tridaṇḍa-sannyāsa, he is referred to as a second svarūpa of Rāmānuja. For the service of guru, it is necessary to give everything, including oneself. Once in Kuliyā, during Navadvīpa-dhāma parikramā, there was a dreadful attack on Śrīla Prabhupāda and the pilgrimage party, and the pastime of Rāmānuja and Kureśa again took place. Śrīla Prabhupāda embodied Rāmānuja at that time, and the mood of Kureśa manifested in one wretched and lowly akiñcana*. The ideal of service to guru is visible in the pastimes of all celebrated ācāryas.

* Akiñcana means “one whose sole possession (desire) is Kṛṣṇa’s happiness”. This sentence reflects Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Gosvāmī Mahārāja’s humility, as it was he in whom the mood of Kureśa manifested.

Becoming the servant of guru does not mean serving one’s own aims

“Service to guru will provide me conveniences. I will find an excuse for my laziness by exerting dominion over other servants.” This is not the mentality of a sevaka. The confidentialities of bhajana are only to be discussed with Bhagavān’s [or gurudeva’s] dear ones. It was from Sūta Gosvāmī, therefore, that Śaunaka and other ṛṣisinquired about topics of supreme auspiciousness. Real knowledge is not attained even after studying Veda, Vedānta, and the Upaniṣads. Hence it is said, “āviriñcād-amaṅgalam – even up to the realm of Brahmā, inauspiciousness prevails.” The ideas expressed in Prabodhānanda Sarasvatī’s kaivalyaṁ narakāyate verse evidence the futile nature of [impersonal] knowledge.

The knowledge of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is real knowledge, and therein lies the culmination of knowledge. And it is solely on the strength of guru’s mercy that Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is realized.

Harau ruṣṭe gurus-trātā, gurau ruṣṭe na kaścana | tasmāt sarva-prayatnena gurum eva prasādayet – If Hari is displeased, guru will save you. If guru is displeased no one will save you. Therefore, let all of your efforts be to please guru.” [The true disciple thinks:] “Let the Earth sink to Rasātala, my resolute vow is to dedicate myself to bring satisfaction to Gurudeva.”

Ananta Vāsudeva, Sundarānanda, and others are glaring examples of the disciple’s dire predicament when he acts in opposition to gurudeva. In the end, Ananta Vāsudeva had to change his name to Purīdāsa.

“The servants of guru are always objects of my greatest respect – gurura sevaka haya mānya āpanāra.” Sevakas who have taken shelter of a bona fide guru surely honour other sevakas.

The nature of nirguṇa-vastu, the transcendent reality

Today is the day of śrī guru-pūjā. Śrī gurudeva is nirguṇa-vastu, brahma-vastu, an entity transcendental to the modes of material nature. Only the servant of nirguṇa guru is worthy of the title of brahmacārī. The supremely benevolent nirguṇa guru’s glory is such that though he descends within the modes of material nature, his supramundane (aprākṛta) transcendental nature remains always and everywhere. In service to Bhagavān’s devotees, prakṛti (nature) and all the basic elements assume a favourable disposition. If the genuine disciple can somehow establish a connection with that transcendental guru-pādapadma, then the modes of the material energy can attack him no longer.

Nirguṇa-vastu Śrī Kṛṣṇa appeared in this earthly realm. A transcendental, or nirguṇa, entity is neither born nor destroyed. The functions of birth and death exist only within material nature. If one utters the word janma(birth), a stream of mundane thoughts floods the canvas of the mind. Uttering the word avirbhāva(appearance) is somewhat of an improvement, but that too creates doubts in the heart. There is something contemptible, inferior, in birth and death. Nirguṇa-tattva, or truth that is not of this world, appears in this realm specifically to deliver the conditioned living entities from the current of Earth-bound conceptions. It is for this reason that Śrīla Prabhupāda appeared in Puruṣottama-kṣetra, the nirguṇa-kṣetra (the realm beyond the modes of material nature). A transcendental entity only wanders within the realm of transcendence.

Worldly rules or ideals do not aid in the attainment of transcendental reality, aprākṛta-vastu. That which is the ultimate impropriety and the opposition of morals in the eyes of the world, is, in the worship of Bhagavān, considered to be of particular merit. The best example is the gopīs’ exclusive mood of bhajana of Śrī Kṛṣṇa. The seekers of ultimate benefit, the pāramārthika-gaṇa, in full harmonious service to Bhagavān and His devotees relinquish mundane precepts in every instance.

Śrīla Prabhupāda endlessly displayed an attitude of non-cooperation with demoniac worldly society. He could never tolerate transgression of Vaiṣṇava maryādā, or covenant. Hence, he did not hesitate to refute face-to-face worldly seminal gurus in their behaviour with liberated personalities. He never compromised with untruth.

It is thus essential for us to wait to encounter that guru-pādapadma who is dedicated to Truth, who is fearless and powerful. It is inappropriate to accept as one’s guru a person who himself is under the sway of illusion and lowly. It is only by the touch of a transcendental entity (nirguṇa-vastu) that the jīva’s contemptibility is demolished. Destroyed are all the vices of that living entity who is sheltered at the lotus feet of a mahāpuruṣa. The appearance as well as the places of appearance of Bhagavān and His devotees are beyond the modes of material nature (nirguṇa) and transcendental (aprākṛta). We are to align ourselves wholly and without deliberation with the spirit of the mahājanas, great personalities who have gone before us, and follow their teachings and instructions. Only then will auspiciousness await us. Else, “we will have to remain in our current state of darkness – ĵe timire, se timire-i.”

Translated from Śrī Gauḍīya Patrikā
Year-13, Issue-2

[Endnote:] There was a certain disciple of Śrīpāda Śaṅkarācārya who was illiterate. Śaṅkarācārya used to give class on the bank of the Ganges, on the Bhagirathi River in Badarikasrama. There was such a strong current in that part of the river that even an elephant could not cross it. Śaṅkarācārya used to give class daily, and his disciples in attendance were very learned and eager to hear his teachings. He especially had four very scholarly, renounced and famous disciples [of which Padmapāda was one].

That illiterate disciple [Ānandagiri] used to engage in many menial services, like washing his guru’s clothes and cooking his meals. He was once washing clothes on the opposite side of the Ganges from Śaṅkarācārya’s class. Class time came, and all disciples were present except him. Śaṅkarācārya was waiting to give class. He had not started speaking, and all the scholarly disciples asked him, “Gurudeva, why are you waiting?” He replied, “I am waiting for that disciple.” They said, “He is not literate. He will not understand what you say anyway. Please begin class. We do not want to waste our time.” Still, Śaṅkarācārya continued to wait.

Soon that illiterate disciple came, running very fast, and bowed down to the lotus feet of Śaṅkarācārya. At once, he began to pray to him with very elevated philosophical stava and stuti. His prayers were so scholarly, in fact, that the four highly qualified disciples could not understand what he was saying.

They now realized the glories of their gurudeva. By the mercy of the bona fide gurudeva, an illiterate person can become a very high-class, learned devotee, knowing all siddhānta (established philosophical conclusions).

From a class given by Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja, 8 February, 2005, Hawaii.

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