The activating principle

Sincerely, earnestly, desperately, we offer ourselves at the feet of Śrī Guru-Vaiṣṇava, wholeheartedly considering it to be our greatest fortune to be utilised by them, for their divine purpose, in the least way.

“Religion is proper adjustment”—we have been told by our Param Gurudev, Om Viṣṇupad Śrīla Bhakti Rakṣak Śrīdhar Dev-Goswāmī Mahārāj, that this was a favourite expression of Śrīla Bhakti Siddhānta Saraswatī Ṭhākur in his final days. In Śrīmad Bhagavad-gītā Lord Kṛṣṇa describes this as the art of yoga: yogaḥ karmasu kauśalam (2.50); samatvaṁ yoga uchyate (2.48). The question arises, adjustment to what? What will be that central, fundamental, guiding principle to which moment by moment, day by day, all persons, places, and things will be adjusted and seen in relation to? For the Vaiṣṇavas, that can only be one thing: the sweet will of the Lord.

Why?

yato vā imāni bhūtāni jāyante,
yena jātāni jīvanti,
yat prayanty abhisaṁviśanti,
tad vijijñāsasva tad eva Brahma

Because He is that source from Whom everything has come, by Whom everything is maintained, and into Whom everything will again enter.

For those attracted to the sweetness of the Rūpānuga line, however, this is not enough. Rather, as told by Śrīla Jīva Goswāmī, bhajanīya guṇa-viśiṣṭa: simply by virtue of His infinitely charming qualities and nature, one is irresistibly bound in absolute, loving adherence to satisfying His least whim. Thus, “Whatever wave has come from that centre of absolute beauty, love, and charm, and in whatever outward manifestation or expression it has assumed and entered my limited sphere of experience—I will take it on my head with full faith and optimism”—such are the feelings of the true Vaiṣṇavas.

But again a question arises: how to ascertain that all-important will of the Lord?

The scripture of course, the Lord’s own word in recorded form, comes forward to help in a passive way. The scripture, the holy book, will give us understanding of sambandha-jñāna, what is what and who is who, understanding of how to approach the Lord along with understanding of what is pleasing and not pleasing to Him, and understanding of what we can hope to attain as a result.

As the scripture will also tell us, however, connection with the sādhu, the living scripture, is essential.

tad viddhi praṇipātena paripraśnena sevayā
upadekṣyanti te jñānaṁ jñāninas tattva-darśinaḥ
(Srimad Bhagavad-gita: 4.34)

If we want to receive a genuine connection with that knowledge which is supersubjective to ourselves, which embodies the Lord Himself, it must come in the proper channel, it must come from one of the Lord’s own.

In the words of our Śrīla Gurudev, Om Viṣṇupād Śrīla Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswāmī Mahārāj,

“Only when we hear from the sādhu are we receiving something in the proper channel, receiving something descending down from Goloka Vṛndāvan through the hearts of our paramparā’s Gurus which is perfect and necessary for our spiritual life. Only when we hear in the proper channel from the sādhu is there a transmission of the power which reveals the essence of the scriptures’ words in our hearts.”

That essential ingredient, the activating principle of our spiritual life, is the good will of the Vaiṣṇava, the good will of Śrī Gurudev. The Vaiṣṇava thus assumes the position of that absolute, reliable centre around whom and for whom we will adjust and readjust ourselves in every time, place, and circumstance, large or small, significant or apparently insignificant:

“With humble and prayerful mind if we try to show our allegiance, to surrender to the smallest advices of the Guru-Vaiṣṇava, that is the door through which we can enter that world. Our submissive acceptance of the smallest meanings of the words coming from Guru-Vaiṣṇava—that is the door by which we can enter Vaikuṇṭha and Goloka.” (Śrīla Śrīdhar Mahārāj)

Thus Śrīman Mahāprabhu, citing Yudhiṣṭhir Mahārāj’s famous conclusion (mahājano yena gataḥ sa panthāḥ), chooses to overlook scriptural stereotype and instead follow the precedent set by Śrī Mādhavendra Purī,

dharma-sthāpana-hetu sādhura vyavahāra
(Cc 2.17.185)

“A devotee’s behaviour establishes the true purpose of religious principles.”

Sincerely, earnestly, desperately, we therefore offer ourselves at the feet of Śrī Guru-Vaiṣṇava, wholeheartedly considering it to be our greatest fortune to be utilised by them, for their divine purpose, in the least way.

“Cast yourself wholly at the feet of the Vaiṣṇava proper and try to be utilised by him. Be aloof to your own ego. Take it off and allow a Vaiṣṇava to work in the workshop of your heart, allow him to handle things there.” (Śrīla Śrīdhar Mahārāj)