by Rupa Raghunath das
Srila Gurudeva’s Love and Affection
By the causeless mercy of Srila Gurudeva, we have received his heartfelt love. We were unworthy and unqualified but he gave us grace and a very good opportunity for developing our pure love. To attract us he first sent out his near and dear followers who are very kind and sweet and then he himself came and gave us a very sweet nectar and trained us in bhakti, thus becoming our guardian and protector.
Srila Gurudeva: “Alone, a person is never able to search out a bona fide Guru…If you are going to search out your Gurudeva independently, I think that most of you will have bogus gurus who are fallen. You will choose Australian kan-guroos – nothing more than that. When you will have the association of a high class devotee you will have power to judge – not before that.”(1/21/04 Hawaii)
Srila Gurudeva is the purest of all pure devotees and the eternal loving companion of Srimati Radharani and it was our greatest fortune to have met him and had his association. In Vraja-lila he serves as a manjari under the kind and loving guidance of Sri Rupa Manjari. The greatness of his glories and how powerful he is cannot even be estimated by us conditioned souls. Conditioned souls in human bodies that don’t take to spiritual life are no better than animals because they are simply engaged in eating, sleeping, mating and defending. For millions of lives we wandered in species like hogs, dogs, asses and baboons. Even as humans, we were like dead men walking. Our lives were of no use; they were completely hopeless. For almost an eternity we’ve collected things that we thought were worthwhile, but it all turned out to be like garbage which covered our soul. We never made relationship with Krsna’s pure bhaktas. We didn’t know anything and transcendence completely eluded us. Fortunately Srila Gurudeva came to save us from this wasted and miserable life and give us nectar which will make the soul very strong. He came to give us eternal help, so we should not try to act independently, but should try to follow and serve those devotees who are fully engaged in his seva.
Is Srila Gurudeva lost to us now and gone far away? No, we should never think like this. Srila Gurudeva and all of our guru-varga are present in this world. Gurudeva has accepted us and also has love for us. That love has power and it attracts us to this Krsna consciousness. Don’t think that it is only us who think about him—he also thinks about us and wants us to be with him and the guru-varga. We should understand that he will always be there for us and will never die.
Srila Gurudeva: “Guru will never die. So you should be alert – very, very careful. Don’t mix with persons who have this idea. I want to stop that influence. I don’t want to waste your time and your life. I want only to give you bhakti. Some wrong ideas are coming, and we should try to stop this nonsense…
tam aham satatam vande guru rupa param sakhi
“Guru-rupi-sakhi-vande – I forever worship my guru, who in his form as an exalted sakhi is happily immersed in the company of Srimati Radhika and the other sakhis.”
Guru is the same person, both in his sakhi and sadhaka forms. A devotee should have firm belief that the same guru will come.” (Srila Gurudeva LA 6/8/05)
Gurudeva’s love is very sweet; when it touches your heart, you cannot forget it. On my very first intimate meeting with Srila Gurudeva, I was captivated by the way he backed everything he said with sastra and quotations from our entire guru-parampara. Although those references and corresponding devotional histories fascinated me, what impressed me the most was his humility and complete lack of airs. Like a loving father or friend, he never rushed me away or made me feel intimidated or that I was imposing myself on him, but he gave his time and energy so freely and willingly. Although he had thousands of followers and disciples, he never made me feel like I was a nobody. He made me feel like I could always go and speak with him anytime and that he loved me. I asked if there was anyone I could speak to about bhajan and he said to me that if I had any questions about it, that I could always come to him or I could ask some senior disciple. He said if I bowed down and prayed to him, the answers would come. It is not that he just left us and we are now all orphans; as a matter of fact, he is still with us and as long as we are loyal, he always will be. Srila Gurudeva is so unpretentious. Although he is the Acarya of the whole world, I observed that he made you feel comfortable in his presence and like a friend he would sometimes even put his hand on the seat next to him as if to say, “Come sit with me!”
He had no interest in money. At that time, I gave what I thought was a substantial donation but he crushed my pride by saying that what he was giving, cannot be bought. Nowhere else in this world would you find such a gift as his.
“What I am giving, no one else is giving.”
Srila Gurudeva was fully self-realized and when he spoke his hari-katha (the beautiful and sweet pastimes of Radha and Krsna and the inhabitants of Vraja) he was giving us a window into the spiritual realm. When I began to reveal to Srila Gurudeva my doubts and heartfelt questions, he unhesitatingly answered my every inquiry and gave his mercy profusely without making me feel bad about myself. This was such a stark contrast to other religious leaders and so-called ‘gurus’ that I’d met who couldn’t answer my questions saying that they were inappropriate or that minor details didn’t matter much. Well, they mattered to me. Although I am so insignificant and fallen, from our very first meeting Srila Gurudeva gave his love and tried to help by filling my spiritual needs and removing anarthas and sinful desires. Srila Gurudeva is an eternal associate of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and Sri Nityananda Rama and thus he mercifully came to me and crushed my pride and destroyed my misconceptions and doubts. Here was someone who truly cared.
Apart from a maha-bhagavat Vaisnava, no one can change your life or get you out of the endless cycle of karma. Why? Such a paramahamsa is full of the nectar of Krsna’s lila and without him, one would not be able to understand the moods of the Vrajavasis or have any realization of them. Srila Gurudeva was a spiritual physician who knew exactly how to make the soul blossom and attain its destination in the spiritual world. We all had different conditioning and He gave even the most sinful of us the treatment to change our nature. He told us that if we wanted to be happy, we should chant Hare Krsna and always hear hari-katha from the most dear and beloved servants of Krsna. By hearing from them again and again, the spiritual rasa will enter deep within your heart and your true spiritual consciousness will awaken. He said that in good association we can do bhajana easily and without difficulty. Krsna is approached under the guidance of Sri Guru and the maha-bhagavata devotees, not directly. We should try to get the association of such a sadhu-mahatma as they perpetually serve Srimati Radharani with all of their intelligence, strength, love and affection. They have so much spiritual wealth that if we associate and become attached to them, they will be able to situate us properly in our spiritual lives so that we will become very wealthy and never become spiritually bankrupt again.
Srila Gurudeva’s heart overflowed with love and affection for everyone. He went everywhere in the service of Krsna. Gurudeva gave me a chance to be with him and his party in Mauritius and another month in Florida and I saw up close how Srila Gurudeva was so humble, simple and sweet. He was always very peaceful and I could see that from morning to night, he was always busy. Externally he was busy writing books, chanting and giving inspiration for all of us to engage in bhakti, but internally he was always busy with his eternal service to Radha and Krsna. He very carefully chose his words for his books, not to impress anyone in this world, but for Srimati Radharani’s happiness and for the pleasure of Sri Krsna. He worked hard as he wanted that everyone could receive the seed of bhakti and be able to serve Krsna with love and affection. To whoever came to see him, he showed so much affection for them. Sometimes he would embrace someone, pat them on the head or touch their arm, back or shoulder. People would be in bliss when Srila Gurudeva touched them or even if he glanced at them. As he is an eternal resident of the spiritual world, that glance is imbued with transcendental mercy and when it touches someone, their heart becomes very wonderful and strong. Some came again and again and we could see that he had so much love for them. His words entered their ears and their hearts and those people changed. Their consciousness transformed very easily. By being in his presence, they got spiritual taste and energy. Some came to him in such distress but simply by hearing hari-katha from him, their suffering and blindness would dissipate. The devotees became so happy seeing Srila Gurudeva and he was also happy seeing them. Somehow he was able to alleviate the worry and sadness of all of us who came to him. I was impressed how he dealt with all kinds of people, offering all respect to everyone. Even if people came to him from other religions, his instructions and advice was always very sweet for them and from his heart.
At that time in Mauritius and Florida he had five personal sevaks travelling with him—Sripad Madhav Maharaja, Brajanath Prabhu, Madhuvrata Prabhu, Acyutananda Prabhu and Vrinda Devi—and to see their sweet mood and service attitude was amazing. Everything they did was for Gurudeva’s service. They were continuously serving Srila Gurudeva, fixed in their Guru-nistha. Gurudeva accepted it all and the affection and love he gave to them is indescribable. Srila Gurudeva told me I should be like them, serving twenty-four hours. If you have a little greed to hear or a chance to associate with any one of them, you will see that Gurudeva gave them so many treasures which they are willing to share. Approach any of Srila Gurudeva’s near and dear family members that you have faith in and you will find his treasures instilled within their heart, or just look deep within your our own heart and you will also find treasures that Srila Gurudeva has planted within. If one however becomes proud and makes offenses to the Vaishnavas and Sri Guru, he may take away these treasures and withdraw his mercy.
One of the last times I was alone with Srila Gurudeva was at Sunita’s house in Orlando in 2010. His mood was very sweet and he was so approachable and full of compassion. He broke the news to us at that time that it was his last trip to America and that devotees should now travel to see him in the holy dhama. He had such faith in the dust of Vraja and Navadvipa dhama and wanted all of his followers to get connection with and mercy of these holy abodes by going on parikrama with him. He saw us all in God’s family and had travelled around the world some thirty times wanting to help everybody and give them qualification to enter the spiritual world. With his love and affection he brought people close to him making them part of his family of Vaisnavas and then he wanted to connect them with the most powerful and purifying holy dhama. He was unhappy that we conditioned souls were way far away from our home and distant from the Lord so he came to teach and train us how to understand His glories and enter His abode. In this way he continuously served to please his guru and Krsna, making Them and all of us very happy.
Srila Gurudeva would always tell us that everything should be done ‘with love and affection’, starting with our chanting and the way we deal with his devotees and followers. We may ask, ‘Why is he always emphasizing love and affection?
Srila Gurudeva: “Suppose you are very wealthy and have many millions of dollars, but you are not getting any love and affection; and suppose that somewhere else there is no wealth, but there is love and affection. Where would you prefer to be? As long as there is love and affection, there is no loss in being poor. Similarly, there is no deficiency in Vrndavana because there is only love and affection. Vrndavana is the place of the most elevated love and affection. Krsna is the Supreme Personality, and therefore He wants to taste supreme love and affection. He is not satisfied with any second-class love… Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaja has written about all these truths in his books, and he himself has said that book distribution alone will not do; you will have to go deep and realize the nectar within. He has produced the Krsna book, which is a summary of the Tenth Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam, and everything is there, completely. There he has instructed us to learn about the gopis’ pure service to Krsna. … Once he wrote a letter to a disciple who was very lusty. The disciple had asked, ‘I am very lusty. What should I do?’ He replied, ‘You should read the Tenth Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam, especially the chapters describing the rasa-lila. Then this lust will go, and real transcendental lust for Krsna will come.’ Actually, that transcendental lust is not lust; it is prema. Unless you read and hear, you cannot realize all these truths.” (Lecture – 4/4/03 Berlin, Germany)
Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, when he first went to America, wrote to Srila Gurudeva that, “I always give my full love and affection to you … The relation between you and I is eternal. Just as my relation with my Gurudeva, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada, is an eternal relation, so in the same way the relation between you and I is eternal… Our relationship is certainly based on spontaneous love. That is why there is no chance of us forgetting one another” (Letters from America)
As Srila Prabhupada revealed above, his relationship with Srila Gurudeva is based on spontaneous love and is eternal. They are eternal associates, so they were never separated and they must also be together right now. They descended from the spiritual world just to help us and give us the love and affection of Krsna. As Srila Gurudeva said,
“Only by the mercy of Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaja, I am preaching all over the whole world. He showered on me special mercy. So I am also praying to him. He came from India and preached all over the whole world. Wrote so many books, so many authentic books. Established so many preaching centers here and there, in a couple of years. Even in the ocean, in these islands of Hawaii. Also in the mountains, Saranagati. In so many countries, even in Muslim countries also. In South Africa also, so quickly. Why has he descended to this world? Why? To help you all! Also he sent me to help you all… I know all the disciples of Bhaktivedanta Swamiji came to Swami Maharaja only for bhakti, not for money, not for good girls, not for wealth and reputation. They left everything behind to serve Swamiji. So, we should always remember this, that if you have left everything for Krishna, what are you doing now? You should always remember this. We have come for Krishna’s service, love and affection. If anyone is helping me now, he is really guru. If anyone is helping in this object then he is guru. And if a person cannot help to attain transcendental love and affection for Krishna, then he is not guru. We should try to give him up and to have the association of high-class, exalted and qualified guru. If you are not doing that, you purpose will not be solved. You cannot be happy and you cannot have the love and affection of Krishna.” (Hawaii, 12/30/ 2000)
What will make Srila Gurudeva happy? He always told us to chant with love and affection and to treat his devotees and followers in that way. Srila Gurudeva explains in The Way of Love that we must not quarrel with other religious faiths as “the one true religion is love”. Sri Krsna is the embodiment of love and affection and there is an ocean of such love where He and His transcendental associates reside. He is all-merciful and all-powerful and we are His parts and parcels, so He knows how to help us out of our distresses and sufferings. He is bhakta-vatsalya, He has affection for us and anyone who wants to serve Him. He loves and understands us and knows that we can never become happy in our material pursuits. That is why He sends his eternal associate, Sri Guru, to reveal this pure love that permeates His spiritual abode and He also sends him (or her) so that we can make a relationship with His followers.
Srila Gurudeva: “Vrndavana is the place of love and affection, and therefore it is not possible for Krsna to give it up. The gopis, Nanda Baba, and Mother Yasoda love Krsna from the core of their hearts, so how can Krsna give them up and go to Mathura and Dvaraka? Why would He go there?… Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura raises the question: A person will always stay where he gets the most affection. Although it is true that Vasudeva and Devaki have immense prema for Sri Krsna, their prema cannot equal or supersede the prema of Nanda and Yasoda, what to speak of the prema of the Vraja-gopis. Considering this, how is it possible that Krsna left Vrndavana and went to Mathura? How could He leave the place where He receives the most prema?… Krsna was thinking, “They cannot give Me full affection, because they think I am Bhagavan, the Supreme Lord.” Being slightly dissatisfied with this, He called His yogamaya potency, which made Vasudeva and Devaki forget that Krsna was the Supreme Lord. Krsna then told them, “A mother and father give so much affection to their child, and by so doing, they get great happiness. But, alas, because We went to Vrndavana We denied you that happiness.” Because Krsna’s yogamaya potency enabled Vasudeva and Devaki to forget their feelings of awe and reverence for Sri Krsna, and now being filled with a new mood of parental affection, they took Krsna and Balarama on their laps and began talking to Them with great affection. (Badger, June 11, 2010)
Sri Guru is the only one who can give us the pure nectar of the spiritual world because he is from there and is not subjected to maya. The more we hear from him, the more enthusiastic we will be. Krsna’s eternal pastimes flow from his heart like on a movie screen. He knows nothing but Radha and Krsna, thinks of Them constantly and explains Their sweet lilas to all of us. He is full of spiritual power and love for he carries Lord Krsna in his heart. He is always very happy and satisfied as everything done by him is for Krsna, and He is very pleased. He has no desire for name and fame. False renunciates, however, are conquered by their own lower nature; they are never satisfied by running after their desires for sense gratification. Sri Guru is permeated with prema thoroughly and completely and as such, no mundane desires can enter his consciousness. He is not bereft of anything but, on the contrary, is bursting with prema-bhakti. Srila Gurudeva gives this graphic example showing how the inseparable associates of the Lord are ordered to appear on this lower plane but never fall into the clutches of maya:
Srila Gurudeva: “Conditioned souls cannot find any relief except from bhakti. They cannot be happy without it. Only by achieving it will they be established in their original soul bodies. Suppose there is an object which is found only in China, and there is a conflict between India and China. Then how can one obtain this object? One has to find someone who travels in both these places. So, if one goes to Nepal where there are many such people, he might obtain that object. Similarly, bhakti lives in the spiritual world. It resides in the hearts of Yashoda Mata, Nanda Baba, Sudama, Sridama, Radharani, and all the associates of Krsna. Now how to distribute it to people in the mortal world? It can be done by those who travel in both these worlds. Essentially they belong to the spiritual world, but by the order of Krsna and Radharani they come here to deliver the fallen souls. They are the personification of mercy of Lord Kṛṣṇa. They are essentially sakti, or potency of the Lord, and they come to the mortal world sometimes in the form of a man and sometimes in the form of a woman…” (12/21/91)
Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda: “Anyone who is in the material world, he is not pure devotee. He has to become a pure devotee. But there are pure devotees. They come. They are not subjected to all this. They come for the deliverance of the fallen souls. They are above Lord Brahma, Lord Siva…” Conversations with Srila Prabhupada, pg. 327 (Morning Walk, May 11, 1975 Perth, Australia)
Srila Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Goswami: “Sri Guru and the Vaisnavas is the one and only means by which a jiva can attain the ultimate goal of life. Only by their mercy is it possible for him to obtain the merciful, sidelong glance of the most compassionate Sri Bhagavan.” (Rays of the Harmonist)
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur Prabhupada: “Only a person who has descended from the spiritual world can speak about that place. One who belongs to the phenomenal world cannot actually report on matters of the transcendental plane. However, upon receiving the fortune of hearing hari-katha from the lotus lips of a great personality who has descended from the spiritual world, one can obtain information about Vaikuntha – the infinite Kingdom of God… With good fortune, one may find a great person who has come from the other world. Sri Caitanyadeva has therefore said:
krsna yadi krpa karena kona bhagyavane
guru-antaryami rupe sikhaye apane
Sri Caitanya-caritamrta Madhya-lila 22.47
When a soul becomes extremely fortunate, Sri Guru showers mercy upon him by coming personally to teach him. He appears externally in the form of Sri Guru, and internally in the form of the Supersoul.” (Rays of the Harmonist – Year 4, Issue 12)
The more people tried to curtail or stop Srila Gurudeva’s preaching in the West, the more powerfully he spread his hari-katha. What was the reason? Sri Guru is unstoppable as he is an avesha-rupa of bhakti, the manifestation of the Supreme Lord. He and all of his guru-varga always please Krsna. They are always connected with each other and with Krsna. Where they are present, darkness cannot remain. They spread their love and shower their mercy, purifying everyone they come in contact with. If we can come under the downpour of their mercy, our material desires will become washed away and our hearts will become clean. Sri Guru first puts the desire to serve Krsna in our heart and then he purifies us so that we can come to the point where we can continuously serve. One devotee in Germany asked Gurudeva how he could serve:
Srila Gurudeva: You can serve me by engaging your body, mind, words, all your senses, and even your mood. You can serve by all means—by wealth, by distributing and reading books, and also by having great affection for others. In this way you can serve…Try to fix your mind in harinama kirtana and japa. This is first. Pray to Nama Prabhu, who is not less than Krsna and Srimati Radhika. In fact, Nama Prabhu is more powerful even than Krsna. So pray to them: “Please make me qualified to serve you in all respects.” Then, serve with your senses, mind, words and everything you possess. (Olpe 2/23/03)
Srila Gurudeva is our life and soul and he always distributes this nectar from the spiritual world. We should always hear from him and the guru-varga. He wanted us to develop this mood of love and affection. We are simply lost souls without Sri Guru, suffering various punishments in this world. May we always remember his teachings and his mood.
Praying for the association and mercy of the Vaisnavas, who have an eternal heart connection with Sri Guru, Srimati Radharani and Sri Hari,
Your aspiring servant,
Rupa Raghunath das