Mathura, India: Feb. 27, 1994
Tomorrow is the appearance day celebration of our nitya-lila-pravista om visnupada astottara-sata Sri Srimad Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Gosvami Maharaja. On this day my guru would show his deep faith towards the entire guru-parampara, starting from his own guru.
The process to worship on Vyasa-puja day
Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura had discovered a process of Vyasa-puja worship when he was staying in Puri, which he had collected from the Sankara Sampradaya. Within this ceremony there is worship of guru-pancaka, krsna-pancaka, vyasa-pancaka, acarya-pancaka, and panca-tattva pancaka.
There are seven pancakas (groups of five personalities), and the method for worshiping each groups have been given. Within Vyasa-pancaka we find Vyasadeva and his four disciples – Paila, Vaisampayana, Sumanta, and Jaimini. In the upasya-pancaka there are Krsnacandraji, Radhikaji, Gauraji, Gadadharaji, and Gurudeva – these five tattvas. In Panca-tattva pancaka we find Sri Krsna Caitanya, Prabhu Nityananda, Sri Advaita, Gadadhara and Srivasa. For guru-pancaka there are five gurus in our lineage, and when Guruji would do this worship; he would select Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada, Srila Gaurakisora dasa Babaji, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, and Srila Jagannatha dasa Babaji, and in the center would be Sukadeva Gosvami or any of the bhagavat-parampara gurus coming from Brahma.[*see endnote 1] In this way, 5 x 7 = 35. My gurudeva worshiped thirty five personalities on this day.
Why do our acaryas worship all these gurus? If one only accepts one’s own guru and does not accept the guru-parampara, he will not make tangible advancement in bhakti. It is stated in Srimad-Bhagavatam (1.1.3):
nigama-kalpa-taror galitam phalam
pibata bhagavatam rasam alayam
muhur aho rasika bhuvi bhavukah
[“O expert and thoughtful men, relish Srimad-Bhagavatam, the mature fruit of the desire tree of Vedic literatures. It emanated from the lips of Sri Sukadeva Gosvami. Therefore this fruit has become even more tasteful, although its nectarean juice was already relishable for all, including liberated souls.”]
Krsna-prema is not a thing of this world. It is of Goloka Vrndavana. It comes from Krsna to Brahma, from Brahma to Narada to Vyasadeva, and from Vyasadeva to Sukadeva Gosvami. In this way, it comes like a current that is flowing even today.
If this current’s path is blocked at any one point, the flow will not come. Therefore we have to accept all our gurus. If you accept one but not another, that is like accepting the half-hen logic. “I will only accept what my gurudeva has spoken and written. I don’t believe in any other acarya. I only depend on my gurudeva – on what he has written and on what he has done. I believe in him, not the guru-parampara.” In this case, what will happen? Everything will be spoiled. There will be no link from Krsna to this realm. Such a person will not have the real thing.
For example, in the material world there is a family lineage. Suppose we accept our father, but not our grandfather. Where did our father come from? Similarly, in the realm of bhajana, we have our guru and he is the link. But the link to what? My link is Srila Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Gosvami Maharaja, and he connects me to Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, Srila Gaurakisora dasa Babaji Maharaja, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Jagannatha dasa Babaji Maharaja, Srila Baladeva Vidyabhusana Prabhu, Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura, Syamananda Prabhu, Narottama dasa Thakura, Srinivasa Acarya, Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami, Sri Krsna Caitanya, Prabhu Nityananda, Sri Advaita, Gadadhara, Srivasadi-gaura-bhakta-vrnda, Isvara Puripada, Madhavendra Puripada, Laksmipati, Madhvacarya and his disciples, and then Vyasa, Narada, Brahma, and ultimately Krsna.
This is how we reach the spiritual realm. Therefore guru, on his birthday, is not eager to have others perform worship to him. The ceremony is not called vyasa-puja if it is performed for one’s own worship. Vyasa-puja means ‘worship of Vyasadeva and Vyasadeva’s lineage.’ He who fails to do this has no knowledge of the guru-parampara, and if he does not know the guru-parampara he cannot do bhajana. The bhajana of those who do not accept this link is useless.
Ordinary people think, “We can be anywhere and just chant Hare Krsna – or any mantra of Krsna, like “Sri Krsna sarana mama.” Such persons live independently and think, “There is only my guru; beyond that there is nothing. What is the use of a guru-parampara?” Such persons may think their bhajana will reach perfection, but it does not.
“Sampradaya-vihina ye mantras te nisphala mata – if one does not follow the four recognized disciplic successions, his mantra and initiation is useless (Padma Puraṇa).” Without sampradayas and the parampara, all mantras are useless. Why are they useless? They will be mundane, just as the money from your job is useless in the sense that you can attain only worldly things.
On the other hand, by doing real bhajana you will receive real results. You can get mundane things by business and other means, but you cannot have Krsna or supra-mundane krsna-prema. Anarthas will not leave you. Rather, they will remain prominent. Our bhajana itself will not remain if we do not come under the parampara. We will simply quarrel and fight.
What did Sukadeva Gosvami, Rupa-Sanatana, and others like them do? They completely left all worldly things; worldly things meant nothing to them. If we have attachment for these things, we will become antagonistic towards others and bhajana will be very far away. Therefore, real devotees never gave attention to that direction. Rather, they sent those attached people to the parampara of Sukracarya, the acarya of sukra, or semen, from which come birth, death, etc. If you like, you can also go there and remain entangled in these things. No need to come here. Our path of guru-parampara is completely straight.
Who is Vyasa?
What is the meaning of vyasa? If we take a single point and continue to enlarge it, it becomes a circle. This expansion is called vyasa. Similarly, if from one point something is taken and expanded to such an extent that it reaches Krsna, the cause of all causes and the creator of the universe, that expansion is Vyasa. So Vyasadeva expanded, or spread everywhere, the name, qualities, forms and pastimes of Krsna throughout the world.
He who takes the lila-katha (narrations of the pastimes) of the Supreme Godhead and spreads this throughout the world, who dispels the ignorance of the jivas and helps them attain prema – he is Vyasa. He who is able do this accepts the role of Vyasa. He is acarya. This type of acarya may sit in the place of Vyasadeva (the vyasasana) and be worshiped. Thus, his worship is also said to be vyasa-puja.
Just see what Vyasadeva has done. Before him there were many self-realized sages, like Kapila, Vaisesika, and Jaimini, who have also given advice. A rsi named Charvaka has said, “Caru aag.” Caru means ‘beautiful’ and aag means ‘fire.’ “Very beautiful very sweet. Eat, drink, and be merry; eat, drink, and enjoy. The association between young boys and girls, riches and wealth, eating many sweets and things made of ghee – this is life. Eat a lot, sleep a lot, and enjoy a lot. This is life, and there is nothing beyond this.
“Most people accept this, but these other rsis said, “Oh, should we die doing this? That thing which you think is sweet is not actually sweet; it is not beneficial. It seems to be so sweet, but in the end it is not. All worldly desires – up to svarga, heaven – none of these things are good.” They have therefore advised, “Practice, yoga – yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, dharana, dhyana, samadhi (Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra). By this we can attain atyanta dukha nivrtti, a cessation of unlimited material miseries.”
However, Srila Vyasadeva came and declared, “No! Even these things are not good. One will receive results from these activities according to the extent of his efforts; and although these results are beneficial, they are not the ultimate objective. Why? Because the jiva is cit, cetana, spiritual consciousness. He is a part and parcel of Bhagavan, The Supreme Lord.”
These yoga philosophies are all somewhat true – true to some extent – but not to the full extent. Everyone is miserable, and therefore by these processes atyanta dukha nivrtti will not be achieved. The cessation of all material miseries will not occur. Rather, they give only unhappiness.
Vyasadeva has explained that the living entity (jiva) is the Lord’s (Bhagavan’s) parts and parcels, and he has explained that forgetting Bhagavan, the jiva has come to this world. The jivas will be truly happy only when they are favorably disposed towards Bhagavan, and this occurs by service to guru.
bhayam dvitiyabhinivesatah syad
isad apetasya viparyayo ‘smrtih
tan-mayayato budha abhajet tam
[“Fear arises when a living entity misidentifies himself as the material body because of absorption in the external, illusory energy of the Lord. When the living entity thus turns away from the Supreme Lord, he also forgets his own constitutional position as a servant of the Lord. This bewildering, fearful condition is influenced by the potency of illusion, called maya. Therefore, an intelligent person should engage unflinchingly in the unalloyed devotional service of the Lord, under the guidance of a bona fide spiritual master, whom he should accept as his worshipable deity and as his very life and soul.”]
How did the jiva come to this world? He came due to forgetfulness of Bhagavan. By forgetting Bhagavan, all his intelligence was covered and he was cast far away from the Lord. He was thrown far away and his atma was covered. Thus, being far away, he came under spell of dvitiyabhinivesatah. Leaving the service of Bhagavan, one becomes inclined to one’s own happiness. He thinks he will be happy in this way, but if he has good samskaras (impressions on the heart gained by previous lives’ spiritual pious activities) he will go to sad-guru (bona-fide self-realized guru) and take shelter.
Under Guru’s shelter
First of all, one must offer himself to the lotus feet of guru. For that person who gives up all his material desires and surrenders unto guru, guru helps him by giving him tattva-jnana (knowledge of all established truths) and situates him at the lotus feet of the Lord. What will be the destination of such a soul? Up to which position will he attain? For such a person, atyanta dukha nivrtti will automatically come, just by being on this path. After this, one reaches Vaikuntha. Then, above Vaikuntha is Ayodhya dhama, even higher than that is Dvaraka, and then entrance into Goloka. Inside Goloka there is santa-rasa (a neutral relationship with the Lord), dasya-rasa (a relationship as servant), and higher than that, upon reaching Vrndavana, there is sakhya (a friendship and sense of equality) and vatsalya-rasas (a parental relationship). Finally, above all, that jiva can attain madhurya-rasa, an amorous relationship, by the mercy of guru.
What Vyasadeva did in Srimad-Bhagavatam
In order to increase people’s desire and taste for pure bhakti, Vyasa has especially given the tenth canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam, in which he has narrated Krsna’s pastimes – and in the other cantos he gave jiva-tattva, maya-tattva, krsna-tattva, and all other truths. He also described the nature of this material world. Then, in the tenth canto, in order to increase the jivas’ taste for the service of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Sri Krsna, he described the Lord’s special pastimes. In the middle of the tenth canto (chapters 29-33) we find the panca-prana (the chapters that are the life-air of all truths), which he has described in such a beautiful way. This is not available in any other sastra, and it is understandable only by a very fortunate jiva.
These chapters are experienced in two ways; through meeting with and serving Krsna, and through separation, when Krsna is apart from the Vrajavasis. To taste these things is our true purpose in life, but we become absorbed in worldly matters and thus remain deprived of the association of pure devotees (sadhu-sanga).
Separation (viraha) and attachment to Krsna before meeting (purva-raga) have been shown in Venu-gita, and it has been shown in Uddhava-samvada and Bhramara-gita of the tenth canto. Then, in the eleventh and twelfth cantos, Srimad-Bhagavatam describes how we can realize these things. There it explains what is sadhana (the practice that brings the practitioner to perfection). In the 10th canto, sadhana has not been shown. Rather, whatever is told in the tenth canto is to arise spiritual greed within the yiheart, and the eleventh and twelfth cantos explain how to perform sadhana.
We can see an example of this in the eleventh canto, nineteenth chapter. All the members of the Yadu dynasty had been destroyed by quarreling amongst themselves. Baladeva Prabhu had left for the spiritual world in the shape of a white serpent, and Krsna was sitting under a pipal tree in a very grave mood. At that time Uddhava and Maitreya Rsi approached Krsna, who described to Uddhava His own transcendental tattva. Krsna Himself was explaining all these things. Uddhava knew that Krsna was going to end His pastimes in this world, so he asked appropriate questions and Krsna replied. This short conversation is called Uddhava-samvada, wherein Krsna explains sadhana, the process to realize Him.
Actually, Srimad-Bhagavatam itself is the essence of all essence. There is nothing irrelevant there. Srimad-Bhagavatam itself gives the verse beginning “Nigama-kalpa-taror. [“O expert and thoughtful men, relish Srimad-Bhagavatam, the mature fruit of the desire tree of Vedic literatures. It emanated from the lips of Sri Sukadeva Gosvami. Therefore this fruit has become even more tasteful, although its nectarean juice was already relishable for all, including liberated souls.”]
Thus, everything in Bhagavatam is essential. It is the cream of all Vedic literature. For example, milk is the essence. Still, that milk is churned and butter is extracted. When that butter is boiled and becomes ghee, then even if we eat the parts that have not become ghee (fully purified butter). there is some benefit – but that ghee is the essence. In the same way, nothing is un-useful in Srimad-Bhagavatam. At the same time, Srila Sanatana Gosvami has taken the essence of Bhagavatam in his Sri Brhad-bhagavatamrta. And what is that essence of that? It is gopi-prema.
Vyasadeva has written that everything is fulfilled by performing bhakti to Bhagavan. How is bhakti performed? It is performed by those who serve the sweet, nectarean narrations of the Lord’s pastimes (lila-katha). Those who chant harinama on their own, but do not hear the Lord’s sweet katha from superior Vaisnavas, remain far away from bhakti. They become stagnant. We should therefore remain under the shelter of pure devotees who are svajatiya snigdha asraya (devotees who are more advanced than ourselves, who are of the same disposition (svajatiya), who taste the meaning of rasa (rasika), and who are affectionate (snigdha) to us.)
Why are these narrations called amrta, or nectar? Amrta means ‘giving deathlessness,’ because one who listens to it does not die; he becomes immortal. The amrta of the demigods will increase one’s lifespan, but it cannot save one from death. The demigods also repeatedly experience unhappiness. Moreover, their lust, anger, greed, and illusion continually increase. Thus, their nectar is not amrta. Moksa, or liberation, is also called amrta, but in moksa there is no experience of real happiness. In truth, real amrta is the stage of permanent happiness – and this stage is service to Krsna.
Although all the types of service to Krsna are amrta, still, sakhya, vatsalya, and madhurya are the topmost, and within these rasas, madhurya-rasa is the truest form of nectar. This has all been told in Raya Ramananda-samvada.
It is therefore said that those who serve this nectarean katha will certainly attain bhakti, and those who hear Bhagavan’s madhurya pastimes from guru – first listening, then grasping it, and then describing it – will certainly attain bhakti. Bhakti means worship in full love for Bhagavan, especially referring to the divine couple Radha-Krsna.
Intimate Service to Guru
Only few are qualified for this, but from the beginning we can endeavor to come to the perfection of prema-mayi seva. Especially in regards to guru-seva, this should be ‘visrambhena guroh seva,’ intimate service to guru. However, at the stage of sadhana, such high intimacy is not possible. Who is this intimacy prescribed for? It is for those sadhakas who are liberated from anarthas. In our preliminary stages of sadhana, when we are full of offenses, our ‘visrambhena guroh-seva’ may actually hinder our relation to guru.
A person may appear to perform visrambhena guroh-seva, but then chastises his guru, saying, “Gurudeva you should do this. You should do that.” Then, if the guru does not accept his words or does not agree with him, what will the so-called visrambhena sevaka do? He will say, “I will leave such a guru.” And everything is finished.
Therefore, be very careful in this regard. Don’t serve like this right now. For now, follow guru’s orders and instructions strictly and with diligence. Know that by this service, our anarthas will go far away and we will naturally attain visrambhena-seva.
Question: What is the meaning of visrambhena?
Srila Gurudeva: Visrambhena refers to the words vigata sambha. Sambha refers to a respectful attitude toward guru, an attitude that, “Guru is worshipable for us and he is much greater than us; there is a very far distance between me and him. He is very intelligent, and I am very ignorant. He is endowed with all opulence and I am a conditioned soul.” We should serve guru just like Isvara Puri served his guru, and in the same way Govinda served Mahaprabhu.
To do actual visrambha-seva as Jagadananda sometimes performed, we must first reach this stage. If we attempt to do so in our present stage, there will be problems. Therefore, let us pay attention to these principals and follow what our previous acaryas have shown according to each situation. If we have not attained that very advanced stage and we try to practice visrambha-seva, then we will fight and argue, thinking, “He is guru and I am also guru. I am like this. He is like that.” Thus there will be disturbances. We must give up our desire for honor and respect.
What Guru Can Give
If we want bhakti, we must leave all aspirations and desires other than to please the bona fide guru. How will we leave our material desires? This has been shown in Satya-yuga. There was a rsi named Aruni. In what way did Aruni leave his own desires and serve his guru? How did Udalaka serve his guru? In which way did Krsna, Sudhama, and Baladeva serve their gurus? Even an ordinary karmi like Ekalavya served his guru. How did Ekalavya serve? He cut off his own thumb as an offering.
Have you heard of Upamanyu? His guru once told him, “Oh, you go out to graze cows all day and you do not bring with you anything to eat, and yet you are very healthy and fat. Why is that? Do you drink milk from the cows’ udders?” Upamanyu replied, “Yes I do.” His guru told him, “Don’t drink it anymore,” but he did not tell him what he would be allowed to eat or drink. During the next days, Upamanyu continued to go out. After some days his guru said, “You still look very fat. Are you drinking milk? What are you doing?” Upamanyu told him, “I am only eating the foam that accumulates on the mouth of the cows – nothing else.” His guru then asked him, “Have I told you to eat that? Don’t eat it.” Then, without Upamanyu asking what to eat and without his gurudeva telling him what he would be allowed to eat, his gurudeva went away. His gurudeva was not actually displeased with him. He was only acting displeased in order to test his disciple’s obedience.
On the next day the cows returned without Upamanyu, and his guru went out in search for him. His gurudeva called out, “Upamanyu, where are you? Where are you?” Gurudeva heard a sound from the well, and that sound was the voice of Upamanyu, calling out, “Gurudeva, I am here in this well.” Gurudeva asked, “What are you doing in there?” Upamanyu replied, “Gurudeva, you told me not to take milk or foam. So I became so hungry that I drank the milk of a leaf of an ekwan plant – and then I discovered that it was poisonous. By drinking it, I became totally blind.” Now showing his pleasure, Upamanyu’s guru said, “You have followed my instructions!” He took him out of the well and blessed him by saying, “All the knowledge of the Vedas will now enter your heart.” Then, at once, all the scriptures (like Srutis, Vedas, Upanisads), and all varieties of knowledge, were inspired in his heart.
The purport of the Vedas in guruji’s heart was transferred in the disciple’s heart. And what was that? “Aham brahmasmi (I am spirit)” and “Sarvam khalvidam brahma (there is nothing existing but the Lord).
But what did Vyasadeva give to his disciple Sukadeva? Sukadeva had already been reciting “Aham brahmasmi.” Vyasadeva told a wood-cutter and bird-catcher disciple of his: “Go and call out this mantra, and that very nice suka (parrot) will fall in your net. Just recite this mantra:
barhapiḍam nata-vara-vapuh karṇayoh karṇikaram
bibhrad vasah kanaka-kapisam vaijayantim ca malam
randhran veṇor adhara-sudhayapurayan gopa-vrndair
vrndaraṇyam sva-pada-ramanam pravisad gita-kirtih
[Wearing a peacock-feather ornament upon His head, blue karnikara flowers on His ears, a yellow garment as brilliant as gold, and the Vaijayanti garland, Lord Krsṇa exhibited His transcendental form as the greatest of dancers as He entered the forest of Vrndavana, beautifying it with the marks of His footprints. He filled the holes of His flute with the nectar of His lips, and the cowherd boys sang His glories.]
That day the bird-catcher did catch a bird – Sukadeva Gosvami – who came near to him and said, “Please ask your gurudeva, ‘What are the qualities of one who has such a beautiful form?’” So, on another day, Vyasadeva taught the bird catchers:
aho baki yam stana-kala-kutam
jighamsayapayayad apy asadhvi
lebhe gatim dhatry-ucitam tato ‘nyam
kam va dayalum saranam vrajema
[“Alas, how shall I take shelter of one more merciful than He who granted the position of mother to a she-demon (Putana) although she was unfaithful and she prepared deadly poison to be sucked from her breast?”]
When the bird catcher recited this verse, that same ‘bird’ [in Goloka Vrndavana, Sukadeva Gosvami is the parrot of Srimati Radhika -ed] automatically came to him, and brought him to Vyasadeva. Vyasadeva then gave Sukadeva the nectar of Srimad-Bhagavatam. This is Vyasadeva’s mercy, to whom the entire world is indebted. Bhakti towards the Lord should be ahaituki, causeless devotion to its highest limit. To this day, no one else has described bhakti like Vyasadeva. Therefore, the entire world is indebted to him.
Thus, on a guru’s birthday, gurudeva worships Vyasadeva and his parampara. This is necessary for everyone. If one only respects his own guru and not the parampara, then he will in fact be rejecting his own guru as well.
Gurudeva is extremely merciful, but we cannot understand this right now. We don’t realize his mercy. If we knew his mercy, there would be no quarrel with gurudeva for only farthings. One would not become opposed to gurudeva simply for material facilities. Gurudeva gives such a great thing, but only a very few, rare persons understand this: Therefore, the great sages renounced everything and gave themselves in guru’s service.
Previously, Sukadeva Gosvami was always absorbed in brahman (the impersonal absolute truth), but he abandoned that, condemning it, and came in the service of Vyasadeva. Those who do not understand these things – what kind of guru-seva can they do? Even if we give our life for guru, that is nothing; nothing at all. Birth after birth we remain indebted to him. In fact, after we reach perfection, we still remain indebted to him. Our debt to mother, father, brother, and friends can be repaid, but we can never repay our debt to guru.
Therefore, every guru, on his birthday, worships his guru and the entire parampara, and we do this as well. It’s not that all of you will become acarya after me and then engage your disciples in your own worship. Everyone should learn these things. In the very first chapter of the Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, the relation with guru is given. In this verse: Srila Krsnadasa Kaviraja has given the five tattvas of guru.
vande gurun isa-bhaktan
tat-prakasams ca tac-chaktih
[“I offer my respectful obeisances unto the spiritual masters, the devotees of the Lord, the Lord’s incarnations, His plenary portions, His energies and the primeval Lord Himself, Sri Krsna Caitanya.” (Caitanya-caritamrta Adi-lila, 1.1)]
Who is Guru Really?
Many people become confused about guru-tattva. Especially nowadays, some are confused about the topics of siksa-guru and diksa-guru. Also, there is particular confusion in that some people think, “The guru I have in this life will be my guru in my next life.” This has become a controversial subject, but there is no reason for confusion in this matter. Guru is Krsna’s svarupa (intrinsic nature), is he not?
guru krsna-rupa hana sastrera pramane
guru-rupe krsna krpa karena bhakta-gane
(Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila 1.45)
[“According to the deliberate opinion of all revealed scriptures, the spiritual master is non-different from Krsna. Lord Krsna in the form of the spiritual master delivers His devotees.”]
siksa-guruke ta’ jani krsnera svarupa
antaryami, bhakta-srestha, – ei dui rupa
(Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi -lila 1.47)
[“One should know the instructing spiritual master to be the Personality of Krsna. Lord Krsna manifests Himself as the Supersoul and as the greatest devotee of the Lord.”]
Since guru is Krsna’s svarupa and rupa (intrinsic nature and form), how is it that he can be changed? Will there be a change in any lifetime? Guru will stay the same, but because of our gross material intelligence, we cannot understand this. People often question in this way: “In my next life, will I have my present guru, or not?” Krsna is not changeable, and guru is like Krsna, so how can guru be changed? Certainly, he is not changed.
Guru says, “I will come for you, birth after birth until you are delivered.” He can come in one form or in different forms. In whatever form he assumes, we should understand that he is Krsna’s svarupa – so there is no need to worry. We should just perform sadhana and have strong faith in our guru. Understand this, and perform sadhana and bhajana properly. Then you will see that everything is okay.
Krsna Himself comes as guru; there is evidence for this. Otherwise He sends His empowered associates, or Radhikaji arranges for this. Therefore, we should remain on the path of our guru. We should be like Rupa-Raghunatha, doing bhajana and giving respects to all. Was there ever quarreling between Rupa and Sanatana Gosvami for disciples? “This is my disciple and that is yours.” Actually, the Six Gosvamis barely made any disciples.
We see that Gopala Bhatta Gosvami made some disciples, but only upon the request of the other Gosvamis. Lokanatha did not want to accept any disciples. Only by the request of Jiva Gosvami did he take one disciple. At the same time, anyone can be his disciple. If we live our life according to their examples, teachings and behavior, we are also their disciples. We take their instructions and act accordingly. This is called “siksa-guru.” If someone is sitting here in Vrndavana near to where Rupa Gosvami used to sit, and that person always discusses about him and follows his instructions, will Rupa Gosvami not be his siksa-guru? He surely will be. Therefore, it is said:
“vande’ham sri-guroh sri-yuta-pada-kamalam sri-gurun vaisnavams ca sri rupam sagrajatam saha-gana-raghunathanvitam tam sa-jivam sadvaitam savadhutam parijana-sahitam krsna-caitanya-devam sri-radha-krsna-padan saha-gana-lalita-sri-visakhanvitams ca.”
[“I offer pranamas to the lotus feet of Sri Gurudeva (who includes sri diksa-guru and bhajanaa-siksa-guru), guru-varga (our entire disciplic succession) and all other Vaisnavas, to Sri Rupa Gosvami, his elder brother Sri Sanatana Gosvami, Sri Raghunatha dasa Gosvami, Jiva Gosvami and their other associates, to Sri Advaita Prabhu, Sri Nityananda Prabhu, Sri Krsna Caitanya Mahaprabhu and His associates, and to the lotus feet of Sri Radha and Krsna accompanied by Sri Lalita and Visakha and all the other sakhis.”]
The guru from whom diksa has been taken is called diksa-guru and all others are called siksa-guru, but are they all less than our diksa-guru? No. Caitanya Mahaprabhu is our siksa-guru. Is He less than our diksa-guru? Therefore, don’t be bewildered by always seeing differences. Accepting guru as akhanda-guru-tattva, (manifestation of the complete, undivided principal of guru) practice bhajana accordingly. In this connection, there is no envy or hate.
In Sri Caitanya-bhagavata there is a description of Vyasa-puja. Nityananda Prabhu performed Vyasa-puja by offering a flower garland around Mahaprabhu’s neck. Contained within this pastime are many beautiful instructions. Understanding all these instructions, we proceed.
Yesterday I spoke about my gurudeva, nitya-lila-pravista om visnupada astottara-sata Sri Srimad Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Gosvami. We should understand that gurudeva’s life history and the life history of his gurudeva are one. They are mixed together. If we are talking about Krsna, does that exclude Radha? If we are offering pranama to Krsna, what will be the best type of pranama? That which is related to Radha will be the best. For example:
he krsna! karuna-sindho!
radha-kanta! namo ’stu te
[“I offer my unlimited pranamas unto You, O Krsna! You are the ocean of mercy, friend of the fallen, Lord of creation, and master of the cowherd community! You are Gopi-kanta, beloved of the gopis, and above all You are Radha-kanta, the beloved of Srimati Radhika!”]
We should not leave one aside, thus separating Them. Similarly, while describing my gurudeva’s glories, Srila Prabhupada Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura’s glories will also come automatically, and the Vaisnavas’ glories will also come automatically.
The Bhagavatam’s narration of Krsna’s eternal pastimes actually culminates in glorification of Radha and the gopis. Their glories are described even more than Krsna’s, but those who are blind see that Radha’s name is not there.
Ultimately, Krsna is not the one glorified:
[“I repeatedly offer my respects to the dust from the feet of the women of Nanda Maharaja’s cowherd village. When these gopis loudly chant the glories of Sri Krsna, the vibration purifies the three worlds.”]
asam aho carana-renu-jusam aham syam
vrndavane kim api gulma-latausadhinam
ya dustyajam sva-janam arya-patham ca hitva
bhejur mukunda-padavim srutibhir vimrgyam
[“The gopis of Vrndavana have given up the association of their husbands, sons and other family members, who are very difficult to give up, and they have forsaken the path of chastity to take shelter of the lotus feet of Mukunda, Krsna, which one should search for by Vedic knowledge. Oh, let me be fortunate enough to be one of the bushes, creepers or herbs in Vrndavana, because the gopis trample them and bless them with the dust of their lotus feet.”]
Wherever we look, the gopis’ glories are present. Krsna does not leave His devotees, His svarupa-sakti, Radhaji, and the sakhas. He is never alone – and the same applies to gurudeva. How is gurudeva’s glorification available to us? How is it manifested? The servants of gurudeva are guru’s glory.
He who does not serve his own guru is never qualified to become guru himself. That person who considers himself a guru is actually not a guru. Who is guru? He who fully surrenders unto his guru, serves him, and fulfills his inner desires. He alone is a guru-sevaka.
This is a very prominent quality in my gurudeva; that he has done everything for his guru. He even risked his life. Throughout his life he did not consider anything outside of guru’s service. He had that type of nistha, firm faith, for his guru. If anyone said anything even slightly antagonizing his guru, what would he do? He could never remain quiet. Some people remain tolerant. In general we should not become upset or angry. But even in a worldly situation, if someone’s mother is slandered and that person remains quiet, he is considered to be a eunuch. In the same way, if someone is hearing slander of bhakti, Bhagavan, or bhakta and one does not become angry, then he is like a eunuch of the spiritual realm. He has no relation with spirituality. Don’t be neutrally disposed.
Don’t tolerate that. At that time, one’s blood should boil. Vrndavana dasa Thakura has written:
eta parihare o ye papi ninda kare
tabe lathi maroṅ ta’ra sirera upare
(Caitanya-bhagavata Adi-Khanda 9.225)
[“Therefore I kick the head of any sinful person who disregards the glories of Lord Nityananda and dares to criticize Him.”]
Hanuman and his associates determined: “We will burn Lanka to ashes.” This determination is trnad api su-nicena (applying to a person who is more humble than a blade of grass).
Some Pastimes of Srila Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Gosvami Maharaja
If someone criticizes our guru, or we hear criticism of Vaisnavas or criticism of bhakti – and we simply sit and hear – this is not the etiquette of a Vaisnava. We have seen many times that during Navadvipa parikrama, the smarta brahmanas, the gosvami caste, were against Gurudeva and created obstacles for the devotees. Why did they become against him? They thought, “We are Gosvamis in parampara. We are not actually educated and we don’t know anything; still, people worship us. But now people will not worship us. They will worship these Vaisnavas. These Vaisnavas are taking Mahaprabhu’s birthplace out of Navadvipa and proclaiming it to be in Mayapura. If people accept a Gosvami only by his qualities, then no one will worship us. These Vaisnavas are saying:
catur-varnyam maya srstam
tasya kartaram api mam
viddhy akartaram avyayam
[“According to the three modes of material nature and the work associated with them, the four divisions of human society are created by Me. And although I am the creator of this system, you should know that I am yet the non-doer, being unchangeable.”]
If one has no good qualities, don’t accept him as Gosvami.
The smarta brahmanas thought, “These Vaisnavas take the young boys and girls from society and give them diksa, and thus increase their bhakti to Bhagavan. Thus, the people of the society become upset. They are taking all these nice boys and spoiling them, telling them: ‘Why will you marry, becoming ruined, sinking deep into material life?’ Instead, they are bringing them to bhakti.”
Prabhupada replied to this challenge: “Those people who do not understand properly, consider me their enemy; but one day they will understand and their mood towards me will change.” In fact, later on that is what happened; they understood.
When the smarta brahmanas once tried to kill Prabhupada, at that time gurudeva gave him his own cloth and wore his cloth. His guru did not want to give his cloth, so our guru took it by force and ‘became’ Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati [they looked alike]. He then took Prabhupada from there and sent him to Mayapura. No one could understand what was happening. In the meantime, the police arrived on the scene and at that time Gurudeva also left.
Once, while I was in Mathura, someone from the Nimbarka Sampradaya wrote that Mahaprabhu was a disciple of Kesava Kasmiri. They claimed that Kesava Kasmiri defeated Mahaprabhu and after defeating Him gave Him yugala-mantra and entrance to the worship of madhurya-rasa. When I read this to Gurudeva, he began to tremble in anger and said, “Bring a pen now.” I brought a pen and paper, and he said, “Write.”
He then spoke only ten to fifteen lines, in Bengali: “There was no person named Nimbarka. Rather, in our sampradaya we see that there was someone called Nimbaditya. If there was a person called Nimbarka, his name would have been mentioned. Such a scholar like Jiva Gosvami, or those scholars of the Madhava sampradaya, or any other sampradaya, would have mentioned his name. Therefore, this is cheating. What they say is against Caitanya-caritamrta. There was only a person called Nimbaditya, a great sampradaya-acarya.
So, after Gurudeva dictated this, he sent the writing directly as a registered post to them, and also published it in our well known magazine.
When those people read this short article, they became very upset and opened a court case worth four lakhs [over $8,000], for character degradation. Gurudeva replied, “I will stand my ground and support my statement that there was no person named Nimbarka, and we will see if you will win your four lakhs or not.” He wrote this, and published it, and sent it to them. Upon receiving it, one of their prominent advisors gave them good advice: “Do not engage with this personality. Otherwise you will be trying to put your hand in a turtle hole and a snake will come out and bite you. Better to sit in your room and be silent; otherwise your position will diminish.”
In a similar way, some sahajiya babajis who were against Srila Prabhupada Bhaktisiddhanta said: “This person doesn’t know anything about rasa. He only sucks on a dry seed. People suck on the seed and throw it away. He only takes the seed and peel, and has no connection to rasa. But we narrate and discuss Rasa-pancadhyaya and perform rasa-lila and allow others to hear as well. This Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura did not know anything.” [See endnote 2]
In response Gurudeva, said he would write Prabhanda-pancaka and give a befitting answer, and in this way he presented five articles. The babajis from top to bottom became completely burned by the fire of anger and they made a case against Gurudeva. I myself was afraid. I said, “Gurudeva, you are the author of these articles but the case has been filed against us, as well as Nrsihma Maharaja, Vamana Maharaja, and Trivikrama Maharaja because we are the editors.” Gurudeva then brought a prominent lawyer from Kolkata, and like a roaring lion he proclaimed “We will prove this.”
They all became fearful. When Guruji was asked to apologize and not write in such ways, he said: “I must write, I am a sannyasi, I will not follow the opinions or requests of mundane persons. This is not why I have come, I have come to perform bhajana.”
In this way, Guruji was very fierce, and therefore Bhakti Saranga Gosvami Maharaja, who was very dear to Srila Prabhupada, gave Guruji the title ‘pasanda ghajaya ka singha,’ meaning ‘he who punishes the atheists as a lion attacks an elephant.’ This is truly how he was.
He was a wonderful speaker, and his writings, such as his articles in the Gaudiya Patrika, were amazing. He used very beautiful decorative language. We may be able to write a little, using even ten books as references, but he did not require any books. He wrote Mayavada-ki-jivani, Acintya-bheda-bheda, and so many wonderful articles. This was all his guru-seva. This type of guru-seva is not possible for ordinary people, he performed this seva throughout his life.
Today we are celebrating the Vyasa-puja of such a gurudeva. May he be merciful to all of us so that we can do bhajana with this type of guru-nistha and help others to do so as well. What is the meaning of puspanjali (externally meaning offering palmfuls of flowers at the lotus feet of Sri Guru)? Puspanjali means taking the teachings and personal examples from his life and, then practicing this in our own lives. It refers to determination that “The way he did bhajana, we will also do bhajana.” This is the best of all puspanjalis. This is real puspanjali at his lotus feet.
This is enough for today.
[*Endnote 1 – Nowadays, we see that, in the name of Vyasa-puja, so-called gurus everywhere accept puspanjali and arcanjali offered to their own feet and they hear and accept praise given to them by their own disciples. However, those who only accept puspanjali and arcanjali offered to their own feet and who do not follow Sri Vyasa-puja-paddhati which was collected by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura and edited and developed by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Prabhupada, are not actually performing Vyasa-puja. On Vyasa-puja day an acarya will worship guru, guru-parampara and upasya. According to this puja-paddhati, on that day one should worship the following:
1) guru-pancaka (Sri Guru, Parama-guru, Paramesthi-guru, Paratpara-guru, Paramparatpar-guru); 2) acarya-pancaka (Sri Sukadeva, Ramanuja, Madhva, Visnusvami, Nimbaditya); 3) vyasa-pancaka (Sri Vedavyasa, Paila, Vaiçampayana, Jaimini, and Sumanta); 4) sanakadi-pancaka (Sri Sanak, Sanatkumar‚ Sanatana, Sanandana, and Vinvaksena); 5) Krsna-pancaka, (Sri Krsna, Vasudeva, Sankarsana, Pradyumna, Aniruddha); 6) upasya-pancaka (Sri Radha, Krsna, Gaura, Gadadhara, Sri Gurudeva); and 7) panca-tattva (Sri Krsna Caitanya, Nityananda, Advaita Acarya, Gadadhara, Srivasa).
It is the supreme duty of Sri Gaudiya Sarasvata Vaisnavas to follow the Vyasa-puja paddhati used by Srila Prabhupada. (Acarya Kesari Sri Srimad Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Gosvami – His Life and Teachings, Third Part)]
[Endnote 2 – Some time in 1956, Srila Gurudeva came to Mathura to see Kesavaji Gaudiya Matha. At that time followers of the Nimbarka sampradaya in Vrndavana used to publish a spiritual journal called Sri Sudarsana. In one issue they cast aspersions on Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, saying that He was a disciple of Kesava Kasmiri. In other editions they insolently dared to claim that Gaudiya Vaisnava acaryas such as Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura were in the Nimbarka sampradaya. When I showed these editions to Srila Gurudeva, he became extremely angry and immediately had a short essay written for Sri Bhagavata Patrika. The headline was “Sri Nimbaditya and Nimbarka are not the same person.” The purport of his headline is as follows:
“‘Nowhere in the scriptures is there any mention of a Nimbarka sampradaya. The Puranas mention a Vaisnava-acarya called Sri Nimbaditya, and the Catuhsana (the four Kumaras) have accepted this Nimbaditya Acarya as their sampradaya-acarya in the age of Kali. However, Nimbarka Svami is a completely different person. Nimbaditya was a disciple of Naradaji at the end of Dvapara-yuga, but Nimbarka Acarya appeared much more recently. Great and eminent authors of scripture such as Srila Jiva Gosvami have mentioned the names of the prominent acaryas of all the other sampradayas, but they have not mentioned the name of Nimbarka Acarya anywhere.
“The Nimbarka sampradaya currently uses the Parijata-bhasya which was written, not by Nimbaditya Acarya, but rather by Srinivasa Acarya [not the Srinivasa Acarya of the Gaudiya sampradaya] and Kesava Kasmiri. These two wrote this scripture and then preached that it had been written by their guru. The scriptures of the Six Gosvamis mention the names of acaryas such as Sri Ramanuja, Sri Madhva, Sri Visnu Svami, Sri Nimbaditya, and Sri Vallabha Acarya. If the Nimbarka sampradaya had existed even to a slight extent at that time, then they would most certainly have mentioned the name of Nimbarka Acarya as well. None of the other sampradaya acaryas, such as Sri Ramanuja, Sri Madhva, Sri Visnu Svami, and so on have mentioned Nimbarka Acarya’s name in any of the scriptures that they have written.”
When this essay was published in Sri Bhagavata Patrika, the office directors of the Sudarsana journal announced that they were making arrangements to prosecute for slander. Srila Gurudeva replied firmly, “We will prove each and every word that we have written on the basis of evidence supported by sastra.” When the prosecution party heard about Srila Gurudeva’s immense scriptural knowledge and his profound personality, they became absolutely silent. (Acarya Kesari Sri Srimad Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Gosvami – His Life and Teachings)]
[Produced (translated and edited) by the Bhaktabandhav Team, and published on www.Bhaktabandhav.com. Further edited with permission by the hari-katha team]