śrī śrī guru gaurāṅga jayataḥ!
Year-1 & 14, Number 7
Posted: 21 August 2008 & 27 August 2021
nitya-līlā praviṣṭa oṁ viṣṇupāda
Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Gosvāmī Mahārāja
Inspired by and under the guidance of
Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja
by Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Gosvāmī Prabhupāda
Question 1: Is it necessary to be in the association of saintly persons (sādhu-saṅga) at all times?
Answer: We must be in sādhu-saṅga at every moment. I am weak. Without sādhu-saṅga I cannot possibly save myself. If I remain far away from sādhu-saṅga, then I will fall pray to the ill-mentality that “I am the master”. If we do not live in accordance with the instructions of the sādhu or the guru, then we will be plunged into great calamity. The moment we are without shelter, māyā will capture us. Consequently, we will roam here and there in this material world as a servant of māyā.
Question 2: How is one delivered from the cycle of material existence (saṁsāra)?
Answer: Without the mercy of Bhagavān, no one can ever be delivered from material bondage. We are the eternally purchased slaves of Kṛṣṇa. As soon as we forget this, we must become the slaves of māyā. Only service to Bhagavān constitutes bhakti. The desire for sense gratification is not bhakti (abhakti); it is entanglement in material existence. The only way to be delivered from this disastrous material existence is to hear kṛṣṇa-kathā from śrī guru and the Vaiṣṇavas, accompanied by self-surrender, submissive inquiry and a service attitude. By hearing hari-kathā with affection (prīti), the tendency to get entangled in material existence will come to an end.
Question 3: Should one accept disciples?
Answer: Without becoming a śuddha-bhakta or a mukta (liberated soul), a person should not accept disciples. First, he should become a disciple himself by taking shelter of a bona fide guru, and he should also hear hari-kathā from his lips. Then in his own life he should practise all he has heard from śrī guru. Thereafter, by humbly performing kīrtana – that is, repeating to others what he has heard – gradually he may also become a guru himself.
It is self-deception to think “I will intentionally remain laghu (insignificant) forever.” One must become guru. This means one has to become a true devotee of Kṛṣṇa, fully engaging all one’s senses in service to Kṛṣṇa, at every moment.
This does not necessarily mean that one must accept disciples. Still, by the desire of Bhagavān, some śuddha-bhaktas impart instructions for the welfare of the people in general. They are devoid of any selfish motive in doing so. Their purpose is to make those who are laghu (insignificant) become guru (significant); to make those averse to Bhagavān inclined towards Him; and to make everyone a devotee of Kṛṣṇa.
Question 4: Is Kṛṣṇa the wealth of the guru?
Answer: Śrīla gurudeva is the proprietor of Bhagavān. Bhagavān Śrī Kṛṣṇa is the wealth of śrī gurudeva, so only śrī guru can give us Bhagavān. It is solely by the mercy of śrī guru that one will attain Kṛṣṇa’s mercy and have darśana of Him.
Question 5: What does “darśana of Bhagavān” mean?
Answer: To have darśana of Bhagavān means cent-per-cent engagement of the senses in the service of Godhead. In other words, it means to serve Bhagavān with all of one’s senses throughout the twenty-four hours of the day. To be thus engaged is in fact to be established in ātma-dharma (the constitutional function of the soul) and is actual bhagavat-darśana. Internal and external sphūrti (transcendental vision) of Kṛṣṇa, which arises by śrī guru’s mercy as well as by the influence of one’s bhajana, is indeed darśana of Kṛṣṇa.
Question 6: Is it especially necessary to have antar-darśana (internal darśana)?
Answer: Certainly. To relinquish external vision – vision aimed at enjoying this world – along with the physical forms therein, it is especially necessary to have internal vision. Someone who does not have internal vision will surely have external vision, in which he sees everything as meant for his own enjoyment. Indeed, external vision means seeing māyā, or illusion.
When someone is extremely eager to see the contents of the letter, he will not waste his time staring at the external envelope. If we can perceive the whole universe as engaged in the service of Bhagavān, our external vision of it will be dispelled.
“Bhagavān pervades the whole universe; everyone’s heart is His place of residence. He constantly resides in the temple of my heart to bestow upon me the opportunity to serve Him.”
When this realization intensifies and becomes strong, we will see the whole world as His residence, just as we see our heart – ātmavat manyate jagat. We will perceive the presence of our worshipful Lord everywhere. At that time there will be no question of having bahir-darśana, external vision; itara-darśana, separate vision from the interest of Kṛṣṇa; laghu-darśana, insignificant vision; viśva-darśana, objective vision of the phenomenal universe; and so forth. Only then will we perceive the whole world to be full of transcendental happiness.
Question 7: Can I protect myself?
Answer: Never. To think, “I will protect myself,” is a fiendish, non-devotee mentality. As soon as this type of ill-thought comes, one is endangered.
“Śrī Kṛṣṇa is my sole protector. What do I have to fear?” We should exclusively imbibe this exalted conception, just as Bhakta Prahlāda Mahārāja did. If we become indifferent to the narrations and instructions of Śrī Bhagavān, then soon after, our reliance on Him will lessen. As a result of this, our various ill-thoughts and our false egos will place us in a calamitous situation.
We will constantly busy ourselves in service to Bhagavān without wasting even a single moment. We have to serve, remaining exclusively in the association of sādhus. By constantly remaining in such sādhu-saṅga, our aptitude for service will continuously be enhanced.
Bhagavān fulfils every desire of His surrendered bhaktas without fail, and He never rejects them – kṛṣṇa sei satya kare, jei māge bhṛtya (Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā, 15.166). Only Śrī Bhagavān has the ability to protect us by giving us shelter. Other than He, no one else has such power. With such resolute faith, we can become free from fear and anxiety, and become happy and successful. Kṛṣṇa is the embodiment of auspiciousness, and therefore, if we have complete faith in His nature to bestow auspiciousness, we will certainly attain such auspiciousness. Words cannot express the kind of great auspiciousness that is obtained by surrendering fully at the lotus feet of Bhagavān.
Question 8: Who will be delivered?
Answer: It is only when we do not engage ourselves in service to Bhagavān that other thoughts, characteristic of the enjoying mentality, grasp us. The embodiment of compassion, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, is always ready to protect us from this danger, but how will we be protected if we do not entirely depend upon Him? As the guru, Kṛṣṇa protects the jīva. Śrī guru is the embodiment of Kṛṣṇa’s mercy. Śrī gurudeva, the representative of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, descends to this world to deliver the jīva from material existence and bring him back to Kṛṣṇa. Only those fortunate seekers of the Truth who whole-heartedly accept the mercy of śrī gurudeva can be delivered from this material existence and enter into the abode of transcendental peace and happiness.
Answer: It is only when we do not engage ourselves in service to Bhagavan that other thoughts, characteristic of the enjoying mentality, grasp us. The embodiment of compassion, Sri Krsna, is always ready to protect us from this danger, but how will we be protected if we do not entirely depend upon Him? As the guru, Krsna protects the jiva. Sri Guru is the embodiment of Krsna’s mercy. Sri Gurudeva, the representative of Sri Krsna, descends to this world to deliver the jiva from material existence and bring him back to Krsna. Only those fortunate seekers of the Truth who whole-heartedly accept the mercy of Sri Gurudeva can be delivered from this material existence and enter into the abode of transcendental peace and happiness.
Translated by the Rays of The Harmonist team
from Śrīla Prabhupādera Upadeśāmṛta
Questions re-numbered for this on-line presentation
Srila Prabhupadera Upadesamrta is a compilation of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada’s instructions in question-and-answer form.