Serving in Separation

His Divine Grace speaking on the day before Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj’s appearance day in 1988, just a few months after his departure from this world.

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dhyāyech chhrī-guru-pāda-padma-nikaṭe sevotsukañ chātmanaḥ
I am ever-ready to carry out the order of Srila Guru Maharaj. This is my position. This is my dhyan, meditation. What meditation shall we do before worship? This type of meditation. My svarup, my form, is very nice: with a clean and pure heart I am always waiting beside Srila Gurudev for his order. This is my svarup.
vimalatāṁ nityaṁ vahantīṁ tanuṁ
dhyāyech chhrī-guru-pāda-padma-nikaṭe sevotsukañ chātmanaḥ

এইভাবেতে সেবা করার বিধি শাস্ত্র এইটা বলেছেন । [In this way the scriptures have stated the rule for engaging in service.] In this way we can worship the Deities or do anything ordered by our Sri Gurudev.

Tomorrow is a very auspicious day. We have come here from so far for worshipping our beloved Srila Guru Maharaj. It is necessary to make ourselves ready in this way: “I can do everything for my Gurudev; I am ever-ready to carry out whatever order he may give.” This mentality gives us our destiny.

এ রকম মনোভাবই আমাদেরকে ভগবানের সেবার দিকে টেনে নিয়ে যেতে পারে । নিজের ধ্যানটা ভূতশুদ্ধিটা সেইটি হচ্ছে গিয়ে সর্ব্বাগ্রে দারকার । এই ভূতশুদ্ধি করতে গেলে যে preparation-এর দারকার হয় সে preparation আমাদের গুরু মহারাজ পরম কৃপা করে প্রথম থেকে আমাদেরকে জানিয়ে দিয়েচ্ছেন । সেইটা কি ? সেইটা হচ্ছে গিয়ে first preparation হচ্ছে গিয়ে শরণাগতি: surrendering mood, not challenging mood । আমরা গুরু মহারাজকে সাক্ষাৎ ভাবেতে যেটা দেখি সেটা কিন্তু তাঁর শুদ্ধ স্বরূপ আমরা অনুভব করতে পারি মুখে বলে যতই বলে না কেন যে,

[This type of mentality can lead us to the Lord’s service. Self-meditation, self-purification (bhuta-suddhi), is first of all necessary. Our Guru Maharaj most mercifully taught us from the beginning the preparation that is necessary when we go to perform such self-purification. What is that? That first preparation is saranagati, the mood of surrender, and not the mood of challenge. What we see directly of our Guru Maharaj is him, but we cannot perceive his pure form, regardless of whatever we may say or not.]
sākṣād-dharitvena samasta-śāstrair
uktas tathā bhāvyata eva sadbhiḥ
kintu prabhor yaḥ priya eva tasya
vande guroḥ śrī-charaṇāravindam
Bhagavan Himself has come very mercifully in this world in the form of my Gurudev. If I can take this conception closely in my heart, then I must be satisfied and successful.
Tomorrow we want to worship our Guru Maharaj, but for that we must peform bhuta-suddhi (self-purification), and then we can properly worship our Guru Maharaj. How is it possible? By the grace of Guru Maharaj, we have got so many books, we have got so many instructions from our Guru Maharaj’s tapes, and we have the living source of Guru Maharaj, the devotees who are always engaged twenty-four hours a day worshipping according to Guru Maharaj’s order. We can have some association, and we can understand and properly worship our Guru Maharaj in this way.
Srila Guru Maharaj wants to offer us to his worshippable beloved Gurudev, and in that way everything goes to the service of Sri Sri Radha-Krishna. But if we cannot maintain saranagati properly, then we also cannot worship Sri Gurudev properly. In the Gaudiya sampradaya we can see the highest example of saranagati, the surrendering mood. Before Mahaprabhu, we can also find the proper saranagati mood in the Ramanuja sampradaya. We can see that saranagati is very exalted there, and our Guru Maharaj quoted many slokas of the Acharyas of the Ramanuja sampradaya, like Yamuna Acharya and Kulasekhar Acharya, in the Prapanna-jivanamrtam scripture. Srila Thakur Bhakti Vinod also included their expressions about saranagati in his songs.
In Srimad Bhagavad-gita (18.66), Bhagavan Sri Krishna has glorified saranagati and given us super hope with the verse,
sarva-dharmān parityajya mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja
[“Abandon all duties and surrender to Me.”]
And also,
yat karoṣi yad aśnāsi yaj juhoṣi dadāsi yat
yat tapasyasi kaunteya tat kuruṣva mad-arpaṇam
(Śrīmad Bhagavad-gītā: 9.27)
[“Whatever you do, whatever you eat, whatever you sacrifice, whatever you give away, and whatever austerity you perform, do that as an offering to Me.”]
Saranagati is the highest thing in our life. Guru Maharaj always told us, “If you can surrender yourself properly, you must get the feelings and seva of your worshippable Deities. Then it is necessary to think today that we must make some preparation for worshipping our Guru Maharaj, and we can do that by being ready to carry out his order. The only thing that he wants is the spreading of Krishna consciousness all over the world. We can also attain our auspicious fortune if we try to fulfil his order and serve him through his paraphernalia present here in Nabadwip Dham, Koladwip. We must be the gainer.
When Guru Maharaj was present, the final result of all the service in the Math would come to me. The devotees would report something had happened, and Guru Maharaj would think, “Govinda Maharaj has done it.” When I would express that I had not done it, but it was done by Hari Charan Prabhu, or Krishna Saran Prabhu, or another devotee, Guru Maharaj would say, “Oh yes, yes, you have done it!”
In this way I was sometimes very fortunate, and sometimes I was very unhappy. Another devotee did so much, but the pratishtha, the fame, would come to me. At that time I could not understand that Guru Maharaj had one line, and he wanted everything to go through me: “If Govinda Maharaj said it is okay, then it is okay.” If any devotee wanted to start something, Guru Maharaj would tell them, “Ask Govinda Maharaj.”
In this way Srila Guru Maharaj gave me an opportunity to do some seva, but at that time I was not fully conscious because I felt that Guru Maharaj was doing everything and we were his instruments. Now a heavy duty has come to us; we cannot say anything wrong now. At that time everything we said was right; everything belongs to Krishna, and everything was going to Guru Maharaj, and he would manage everything. He was my caretaker and everyone’s caretaker.
We had no fear at that time, but now we must be very conscious about our position in our transcendental Krishna conscious practising life. This is necessary, and we think that it is for this reason that Guru Maharaj disappeared. If Guru Maharaj is always present in front of us, then we are always depending on Guru Maharaj. Now Guru Maharaj wants to hiddenly see our activities. This is the thinking that has come to me now. Guru Maharaj gave me some charge, and he wants to see what I am doing now, and what is my progress report. This is not only for myself, but it is for everybody. He wants to know what our progress report is. He is hiddenly waiting.
If we can see Guru Maharaj properly, then we can see that he is present everywhere, in the form of his devotees, in form of his disciples, in form of his paraphernalia, and also in the form of my disciples. In this way he is looking to see how my progress report is going. This is the feeling coming to us in the absence of Guru Maharaj, and I think that it is a very correct and good symptom.
Good symptoms must come to us. It is very hopeful. Guru Maharaj was always in Krishna consciousness and Krishna Himself came for our benefit in the form of Guru Maharaj, but his whole life he practised Krishna consciousness in order to teach us. Then, when we were not fully conscious, he disappeared, and he wants to see what we learned from him. He left many things for our practising of Krishna consciousness. One thing is enough for us, but he has done many things for our devotional life. It is necessary to go forward very consciously now.
Guru Maharaj is always with us. When I was feeling very great separation from Guru Maharaj, the news came that the London Math was in some trouble. The London Math was Guru Maharaj’s Math: he did not claim any Math, but his Guru Maharaj ordered him to preach in London, so when an opportunity came for a centre in London, he thought, “This is my place; something must be there in my name.” In this way he felt, “The London Math in my Math.” Then when some difficulty came there, my mind was diverted from feelings of separation to the London Math. I could understand that this was Guru Maharaj’s policy: when I was feeling the deepest separation, I could not do anything and was only thinking, “Guru Maharaj is not here, Guru Maharaj is not here!” At that time Guru Maharaj said, “Guru Maharaj is not here? Guru Maharaj is always with you all. You think for seva.” Then Guru Maharaj created that seva. If we have this vision, then we can see everything as the mercy of our Guru Maharaj.
Guru Maharaj has given so many engagements to us. We are trying to fulfil his desire in Chaitanya Saraswat Math, in the Kolkata Math, in the Hapaniya Math, in the Puri Math, and now he has given us another duty for his Union in Separation Temple, his Samadhi Mandir. In this way Guru Maharaj is trying to develop our faith, and our transcendental thinking and practising life. He wants it to grow, and it must grow in this way. We are so fortunate if we can see the mercy of our Guru Maharaj in this way.
We have puppy brains: our nature is that we begin practising Krishna consciousness very fast, and then immediately come back and go in another direction. This is the position of our minds. From that position Guru Maharaj wants to take us for his seva and for our destiny, and for that reason he has given us his separation; but through his paraphernalia, through his Deity, through his disciples, and through his godbrothers, we can always feel union with him. If we try to see properly, then we can see this by the grace of our Guru Maharaj.
vāñchha-kalpa-tarubhyaś cha kṛpā-sindhubhya eva cha
patitānāṁ pāvanebhyo vaiṣṇavebhyo namo namaḥ


Spoken on 31 October 1988.


divyaṁ śrī-hari-mandirāḍhya-tilakaṁ kaṇṭhaṁ sumālānvitaṁ
vakṣaḥ śrī-hari-nāma-varṇa-subhagaṁ śrī-khaṇḍa-liptaṁ punaḥ
pūtaṁ sūkṣma-navāmbaraṁ vimalatāṁ nityaṁ vahantīṁ tanuṁ
dhyāyech chhrī-guru-pāda-padma-nikaṭe sevotsukañ chātmanaḥ

“Meditate that the Lord’s Temple (your body) is decorated with shining tilak, your neck bears a beautiful tulasī-mālā, your chest is adorned with the Names of Śrī Hari and sandalwood paste, you are wearing fine, new, clean cloth, and in your pure, eternal form, you are at the lotus feet of Śrī Guru, eager for service.”

A Festival of Separation

“Viraha Mahotsav: A festival of separation”. Discussion last night in Sao Paulo on the divine disappearance day of our Gurudev Om Vishnupad Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj. English class by Vishakha Devi Dasi with translation into Portuguese by Rasikananda Prabhu.
1 hour and 20 min+ mp3 audio file

Villa Govinda Reflections

It is our good fortune that we were able to participate in the festivals which concluded last week at our Villa Govinda Ashram on the outskirts of Milan, Italy. The focus of the festival was the inauguration of our Gurudev’s, His Divine Grace Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj’s, pushpa samadhi, which took place on Sunday 12 August, the day after Srila Param Guru Maharaj’s, His Divine Grace Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj’s, disappearance anniversary. Sripad Tyagi Maharaj acted as the priest and performed a fire sacrifice at the start of the ceremony; afterwards Sripad Madhusudan Maharaj spoke for some time in glorification of Srila Gurudev. Finally, with a flower which had been preserved from one of Srila Gurudev’s personal garlands on the day of his departure, Krishna Kanta Didi inaugurated the new pushpa samadhi for His Divine Grace. Munindra Mohan Prabhu then concluded by performing an arati to His Divine Grace, accompanied by the singing of Sri Guru Arati and heartfelt offerings of flowers from the devotees and sincere seekers present who had travelled from Italy, USA, England, Brazil, Venezuela, Portugal, Holland, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, and Ukraine to be a part of this momentous occasion.
We are blessed to have been associated with the Villa Govinda Ashram since its beginnings in 2003, and were present when our beloved Srila Gurudev visited both in 2003 and then again in 2007. On those occasions Srila Gurudev appeared very happy, relaxed, and at home, and many felt that his mercy was flowing very freely there. Srila Gurudev was particularly pleased with the service of the Italian devotees headed by Krishna Kanta DD and Munindra Mohan Prabhu, and was greatly moved by the sacrifice of Krishna Kanta, who manifest the ashram while facing a life-threatening illness. It was there at Villa Govinda that Srila Gurudev revealed his inner heart and pain of separation and openly shed tears on the disappearance day of Srila Param Guru Maharaj in July of 2003. He had also been very specific, when the tour was in the planning stages, about wanting to observe that day with the devotees in Italy.
At Villa Govinda Srila Gurudev had no pressure to give formal lectures or instruction, and rather when he spoke it was when he wanted to, as if with his close friends, and there would be long periods when he would sit in a comfortable silence with the devotees at different places around the ashram. He liked to observe the beautiful panoramic view surrounding the ashram, perched on the corner of a hilltop.
The presiding Deity at the ashram is Sri Giriraj, of whom Srila Gurudev commented, “Bala Gopaljiu is playing inside there”. He is worshipped with natural faith and affection, without much formality, mantras, and so on, as per Srila Gurudev’s direction.
Srila Gurudev would sometimes speak of “the bright future” that is awaiting all the sincere practitioners of this line. One day during his visit to Villa Govinda in 2007, speaking with the devotees about the charm of Sri Krishna’s aprakrita-lila, Srila Gurudev commented, “We give honour to everyone, we must give our full daṇḍavat to everyone, but after that we will go to our playground and with Kṛṣṇa play in śānta-rasa, dāsya-rasa, sakhya- rasa, vātsalya-rasa, and madhura-rasa; parenthood, and servitorhood, friendship, and even paramour love is possible with God. Who can believe it?”
Srila Gurudev himself embodied the aprakrita mood of sweetness, charm, and simplicity.

They are not conscious of their own exalted position. A king, when he is not very conscious of his power, thinks of himself as an ordinary person. It is something like that. Someone may be a great doctor but through affection he may do the work of a nurse for his patient. Out of his love and affection for the patient, he may come down to do such work, but still he is great. This is the beautiful nature of Vṛndāvan life. It is great without the attitude, the air of bigness. Although they are really great, they appear to be simple. Power dressed in affection and love, couched in humility—that is Vṛndāvan. And that is also Nabadwīp.
(Srila Sridhar Maharaj, The Golden Volcano of Divine Love)

As the perfect ambassador of that Goloka plane, Srila Gurudev revealed its sweetness and charming glory, and awakened some attraction within our densely covered hearts for Reality the Beautiful.
At present we cannot begin to properly conceive of what kind of “bright future” is awaiting us, but we are confident that if we can remain, or become, faithful followers of our Srila Gurudev, we must attain it.

We are so fortunate that we have one little thread or rope with His Divine Grace [Srila Sridhar Maharaj]. If we can hold on tightly to that we will have no problem with our spiritual life. That is our good fortune.

When the sincere seeker is trying to get initiation within the line of Guru Maharaj, at that time I am thinking that this boy or this girl does not know what they have got. But one day will come when they will feel this connection and they will understand what they have got. But it is necessary to follow some process, and that is:

tṛṇād api su-nīchena taror iva sahiṣṇunā
amāninā māna-dena kīrtanīyaḥ sadā hariḥ

Tṛṇād api su-nīchena taror iva sahiṣṇunā—humility is the best quality of Vaishnavism—tṛṇād api su-nīchena. And taror iva sahiṣṇunā—tolerance. Tolerance in this material world gives so much benefit. We will be tolerant remembering Sriman Mahaprabhu’s directives. And if we give honour to others then everyone will be my friend. No one will be my enemy. That is the best procedure.

Anyhow, we will at once be qualified if sincerity and chastity is with us, and love and affection will give us the super benefit of our spiritual life.
(Srila Gurudev speaking on Govardhan Puja in Soquel, California, USA, 10 November 2007)

All glories to our Srila Gurudev, Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj, and all glories to his faithful followers, whom we humbly aspire to serve.
A few photos from the pushpa samadhi inauguration, Sunday 12 August 2018:

Video of part of Sripad Madhusudan Maharaj’s talk, and the following ceremony, arati, and pushpanjali:
Featured image: Gauranga Prabhu of Sao Paulo, Brazil
Other photos and video: the devotees of Villa Govinda Ashram

Sri Jagannathdev

The following article by our Param Gurudev Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj has been excerpted from the magazine ‘Counterpoint’, Vol 1 No 6 Spring ’94, which was published by Sriman Devashis Prabhu.
The full text of that edition can be found here in pdf format
and here in epub format
Braja-rasa in Dwaraka
Sometimes there is a conception amongst the Queens of Dwārakā that, “Although we have Kṛṣṇa as our husband, we feel that somehow He is not Kṛṣṇa in His fullness. He always seems absentminded, as if His heart is not wholly with us.” Pondering the cause of this, the Queens came to know that previously Kṛṣṇa had some very sweet connection with Vṛndāvan and the Gopīs there. Thinking this to be the key to Kṛṣṇa’s absentminded mood, they began searching for an opportunity to find out how Kṛṣṇa was living in Vṛndāvan. They wanted to know about His pastimes there with the Gopīs, and to hear the descriptions from His childhood. Balarām’s mother Rohiṇī had lived in Vṛndāvan during Kṛṣṇa’s childhood, and although she is situated in vātsalya-rasa (parental relationship), she had heard many things about Kṛṣṇa’s Līlā with the Gopīs. So meeting her privately the Queens requested her, “Please describe Kṛṣṇa’s mādhurya-līlā in Vṛndāvan to us.” Rohiṇī was unable to avoid the Queens’ sincere request, and so posting Kṛṣṇa’s sister Subhadrā to keep watch, she began to narrate about His Līlā with the Milkmaids of Vraja.
It so happened that at that same time, Kṛṣṇa and Balarām were taking rest in a nearby room, and as Rohiṇī was describing the Vṛndāvan-līlā, They became aware of what was taking place. Coming to the door where Subhadrā was standing guard, Kṛṣṇa and Balarām could hear the talk of Rohiṇī, and remembering Vṛndāvan, the Gopīs and all these things, a great intensity of feeling came over Them. A great change of feeling came over Kṛṣṇa and Balarām, so great that Their bodies also began to change; just as Mahāprabhu had shown when He fell at the gate of the Jagannāth Mandir and His arms and legs entered into His body. Such a change in the body is possible according to some particular feeling of ecstasy, and feeling the ecstasy of Vṛndāvan, Kṛṣṇa and Balarām were undergoing such a transformation. And Subhadrā, although She had not lived in Vṛndāvan, seeing Her Brothers in this way, She also experienced some sort of sympathetic transformation. Internally that feeling came to Her and externally She was also transformed. The cause of Their disfiguration was the Vṛndāvan statement of Rohiṇī. Remembering that Vṛndāvan-līlā and feeling that, such change came in Their bodies.
Suddenly the group of Rohiṇī could understand that Kṛṣṇa and Balarām were there listening to their talk, and so immediately they stopped. The Līlā thus suspended, the disfigured formation of Kṛṣṇa remained, and He fell into a trance. Nothing could be done to reverse the situation, and so in desperation Kṛṣṇa was taken to the Nava-Vṛndāvan; a replica of Vṛndāvan that had been created in Dwārakā by Brahmā for Kṛṣṇa’s pleasure. Although Kṛṣṇa was awake He could not come out of that mentality, that trance, until He could be taken to that Nava-Vṛndāvan. There in His trance He could only see Baladev, and all others present were eliminated from His vision. Seeing Baladev, Kṛṣṇa was happy that He was in Vṛndāvan. Then He saw Rohiṇī, “Oh yes, it is Vṛndāvan.” Mannequins of all the other residents of Vṛndāvan were also arranged there, and the Queens were following from a distance to see what will happen. After seeing Baladev, Kṛṣṇa sees His cowherd friends Śrīdām and Sudām are also there. In another part the Gopīs are there, and in one part Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī is standing. Seeing Her mannequin Kṛṣṇa ran and embraced Her, and when Satyabhāmā saw this, some disfigurement also came in Her body. While Kṛṣṇa was in this temperament, Baladev was able to go to Him and gradually he was able to bring Kṛṣṇa back to the consciousness of Dwārakā. The sudden stopping of His experience of Vṛndāvan caused His condition and only by a gradual process, His mentality was again taken to Dwārakā.
This sort of tale is there, and when Dwārakā and Vṛndāvan mix, that is Jagannāth. He is mainly in Dwārakā, but the posing of Vṛndāvan is there. He has infinite forms of Līlā, so what can we trace or know with our finite capacity? In Dwārakā-Saṁhitā we find that there was an arrangement of Rāsa-līlā in Dwārakā also. The Queens had heard that in Vṛndāvan there was the Rāsa-līlā and that it is most wonderful. So when on one occasion the whole Vṛndāvan party was invited to Dwārakā, they privately approached Kṛṣṇa and petitioned Him, “The Gopīs have come, and for a long time it is our hearts’ desire that you will show Your Rāsa-līlā to us. Will You request them?” Kṛṣṇa replied, “If they will give their consent then I have no objection.” The Queens made their request to the Gopīs and the Rāsa-līlā was arranged. When it was complete, all that saw it were astonished, and the Queens went to the camp of the Gopīs to express their wonder. “What we have seen is the most wonderful thing, it is impossible to conceive even. We cannot properly express such a thing.” And Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī made this statement in reply, “What have you seen? That was nothing — an almost dead representation. Where is the Yamunā?Where is the kadamba tree, the peacock, the deer, and all these things? There in Vṛndāvan that was a natural stage, and that was performed there in our youth. What you saw, that is nothing, a sham, a mere mockery.” Then the Queens began to reflect, “If what we saw is of such lower order, then what type of superior quality Līlā must be found in the Original? It is totally inconceivable.”
So the psychology of Vṛndāvan is all-important. The attraction for that Vrndāvan-līlā — when that was suddenly stopped the result was a great change in the physical plane. Of course it is not physical, but for the purpose of explanation we can say physical. That check caused the disfigurement of the external plane. It is something like when there is an earthquake. The internal movement of the Earth disfigures the surface, so the internal disturbance that was created by the recollection of Vṛndāvan-līlā, that caused a great transformation in the superficial appearance. And when that was suddenly checked, that appearance remained. That has been pictured and shown in Jagannāthdev. When the higher prospect is suddenly checked, then the reaction comes. So Jagannāth is a reactionary stage between Vṛndāvan and Dwārakā. The conflict between the emotion of Swayaṁ-Bhagavān and the Vaibhava-vilās of Kṛṣṇa. It is something like rasābhās. In higher ecstasy also, rasābhās is possible. The clash of two different waves of rasa. The train may be proceeding in a particular motion and the carriage along with it. But if suddenly the train should brake, then the contents inside the carriage will be thrown into a great disorder. It is something like that.
ādau yad dvāro ’plavate,
sindhuḥ pārer apauruṣaṁ
This verse says that the Jagannāth mūrti has been there from the very conception, from the most ancient time. So every Līlā of the Lord is eternal. Every part of the infinite is eternal. In the beginning of Mahābhārat there is “Dhṛtarāṣṭra-vilāp”, and there Dhṛtarāṣṭra is naming the main incidents of Mahābhārat, and lamenting that, “Because of this incident and that incident I know that my party must be defeated”. But at this stage of Mahābhārata none of these incidents had taken place. So how can Dhṛtarāṣtra speak of these incidents at the beginning of the narration? It is because it is nitya, eternal. The beginning of the Līlā and the end of the Līlā cannot be differentiated. It is in a cyclic order and it is eternal. That is a very difficult thing to understand. To adjust to the eternal. Everywhere beginning, everywhere end. Everywhere there is centre and nowhere is there circumference. This is the meaning of infinite. This is Nitya-līlā. Everywhere beginning, everywhere end, and all coexistent at the same time.
Kṛṣṇadās Kavirāj Goswāmī has represented this in a particular way He has given the example that the sunrise is to be found always in one place or another. Now it is here, now there, and so on in this way. So like the sun Kṛṣṇa-līlā is moving, the birth, the childhood, being shown here and then extended to another brahmāṇḍa, another universe. That is the aspect of Bhauma-līlā. And in another aspect, in Goloka, we find that every Līlā is also nitya. It is reflected here in this world and the reflection is revolving like the sun. It may be traced here, now here, now there — a question of space, but in Goloka, in the central place it is all there simultaneously. It is also no less in the heart of the devotees. When a devotee remembers a Līlā, it may be Vraja-līlā, and now Dwārakā-līlā, but what is reflected in the heart of a devotee, that is also true. So in this way it is coexistent and it is continuing always. Every Līlā and every part of Līlā is always present, coexistent. Succession and coexistence both harmonised.
Devotee: Maharaj, is Guru-paramparā also part of Līlā?
Śrīla Śrīdhar Maharaj: Of course. It is the Līlā of Kṛṣṇa. But not only that, Māyā and everything else is included in Līlā from His standpoint. It is His sweet will, His independence.
mayā tatam idaṁ sarvaṁ, jagad avyakta-mūrtinā
mat-sthāni sarva-bhūtāni, na cāhaṁ teṣv avasthitaḥ
(Srimad Bhagavad Gita: 9.4)
“Everything is in Me, yet nothing is in Me. I am everywhere and I am nowhere.”
Everything will come within this conception. He can even interfere with the free will of the jīva, but still He doesn’t. He is within and He can control, yet He does not. He may choose not to control. He has this independence. This sort of conception we shall have to indent. This is the conception of Śrī Chaitanya Mahāprabhu and this is what separates His conception from the Hegalian philosophy and the philosophy of Aurobindo. Māyā is not a necessary part of existence, and by Kṛṣṇa’s will Māyā may be finished, and if He so desires, again recreated.
koṭi-kāmadhenu-patira chāgī yaiche mare
ṣaḍ-aiśvarya-pati kṛṣṇera māyā kibā kare?
(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita: 2.15.179)
He can make or mar. Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākur has written in his Tattva-sūtra that by His will, even the existence of the jīva-soul may be extinguished. This is not the general case, but still Absolute Power is with Him. Everything is designed and destined by Him, that is the expression of swarūp-śakti.
kṛṣṇa-līlāmṛta-sāra, tāra śata śata dhāra’
daśa-dike vahe yāhā haite
se chaitanya-līlā haya, sarovara akṣaya,
mano-haṁsa charāha’ tāhāte
(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita: 2.25.271)
Chaitanya-līlā is the Infinite sweetness from Chaitanya —whatever is within and whatever is coming from Him, that is all the high nectar of Kṛṣṇa-līlā and nothing else. Chaitanya-līlā means the centre from which Kṛṣṇa-līlā flows in different forms, oozing from all sides and even from every pore. Nothing but Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa-līlā, Braja-līlā embodied in Him, and coming out to help the public. The voluntary distribution of Kṛṣṇa-līlā of different nectarine tastes; that is Śrī Chaitanya Mahāprabhu. He has no separate existence from the Nāma, Guṇa, Rūpa, and Līlā of Kṛṣṇa, Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa, and this includes Yaśodā and all others within the relativity of Kṛṣṇa. If one is there then all others must necessarily be there. So Kṛṣṇa-līlā means Kṛṣṇa with His group. Also Vṛndāvan — the water, the forest, the animals, the birds, all are included in Kṛṣṇa-līlā, Braja-līlā. And that and nothing else is all coming from Śrī Chaitanya. That is Rādhā Kṛṣṇa in self-distributing nature. Whatever comes from Him — that is all Kṛṣṇa. Even in Śrī Chaitanya’s childhood, when one could not trace anything of Kṛṣṇa, it was there, and in different ways He was creating the background for distributing Kṛṣṇa-līlā to others.
kṛṣṇa-nāma dhare kata bala
(Śrī-Nāma-Māhātmya — Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākur)
This sound “Kṛṣṇa”, what is its value? Śrīla Rūpa Goswāmi has explained that Kṛṣṇa has four unique, special qualities. Every jīva has fifty innate qualities. Certain devatās have fifty-five, the five additional qualities partially manifest in them. Śrī Nārāyaṇ has sixty qualities in full, and Kṛṣṇa has four more qualities not found in Nārāyaṇ. Those four qualities are: rūpa-mādhurya (sweet form), veṇu-mādhurya (sweet flute), līlā-mādhurya (sweet pastimes), and parikara-mādhurya (sweet associates). Śrīla Rūpa Goswāmi has established the speciality of Kṛṣṇa-līlā in this way. And this is only found in Vṛndāvan. Vāsudev-Kṛṣṇa has no flute, and it has been mentioned that even Dwārakeśa-Kṛṣṇa is charmed to search for the rūpa-mādhurya of Vṛndāvan-Kṛṣṇa, the sweet Lord of Braja, Reality the Beautiful.
Photo: By Dreamodisha – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Union in separation

This may be a very good and very auspicious day but separation of Guru Maharaj is also giving us pain, now and always. We can try to fulfil his desire, and in that way we can serve him and satisfy him. Now that is our only goal.

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The following text has been taken from Srila Gurudev’s talk on the occasion of  Sri Sri Nitai Chaitanyadev’s installation in Puri Dham, December 1989.
Today is a very auspicious festival day because Guru Maharaj’s Deities have come from Nabadwip to here, and from today they will accept puja and bhoga every day in this Math. We are very happy to tell this, but in the meantime we are also remembering Srila Guru Maharaj.
Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Goswami Thakur’s Anubhasya, commentary on Chaitanya-charitamrta, was a very difficult work and it was his topmost writing. When he finished the Anubhasya it was a very glorious and happy day for him, but in the last chapter he wrote,
āji ei sukha-dine bhakati-vinoda vine
sukha-vārtā jānāba kāhāre ?
‘anubhāṣya’ śuni’ yei parama praphulla ha-i’
uru-kṛpā vitarila more [3]
[“Today, on this joyful day, to whom shall I convey this joyful news without Śrī Bhakti Vinod? He listened to this Anubhāṣya, was extremely pleased, and bestowed great mercy upon me.”]
When Srila Saraswati Thakur had finished and printed Anubhasya, Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur had already disappeared. Bhakti Vinod Thakur had heard Prabhupad Saraswati Thakurs commentary, but when it became manifest in a book form he had already disappeared. A year or a few months before it was published Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur left. Then, in poetry in the last chapter of Anubhasya Srila Saraswati Thakur mentioned the date and his Guru-parampara, and especially glorified Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur and Srila Gaura Kishor Das Babaji Maharaj. We can read there in his commentary,
āji ei sukha-dine bhakati-vinoda vine
sukha-vārtā jānāba kāhāre ?
‘anubhāṣya’ śuni’ yei parama praphulla ha-i’
uru-kṛpā vitarila more [3]
śrī-gaura kṛpāya dui mahimā ki kaba mui
aprākṛta-pāriṣada-kathā [7]
[“They (Śrīla Bhakti Vinod Ṭhākur and Śrīla Gaura Kiśor Dās Bābājī Mahārāj) are manifestations of Śrī Gaura’s mercy. What can I say about their greatness? They are divine associates of the Lord.”]
He also gave his own identification: Sri-Gaura-Kisora-Dasa, yara bhrtya—ei abhajana (verse 1).
On that very happy day and glorious day, without Bhakti Vinod Thakur present, Prabhupad thought, “To whom shall I tell this news? Today I do not see Bhakti Vinod Thakur in front of me. He was always blessing me and he was always merciful to me and distributing mercy everywhere. If he was here today, present in his transcendental body, he would be satisfied to see this, and that would have been more happy for me. But it is not possible.” In separation of Bhakti Vinod Thakur, Prabhupad was feeling both happiness and sadness at the same time.

Today I am feeling great separation from Guru Maharaj

This day is a very happy day no doubt because Guru Maharaj’s Deity has come here. Guru Maharaj was always lying down in his bed, sometimes seated, and would speak only a few words each day—but he was in his seat and in his Math, and through those few words he was distributing his mercy to us. He was always present. Now he is also  present, no doubt. He is seeing everything. The ordinary soul is not destroyed. He had a transcendental body and was the dearmost devotee of Krishna, so he can do anything and he can go anywhere at any moment, like Krishna. Then he is listening here no doubt, and he is very happy to see everything, I have no doubt about that—but today I am feeling great separation from Guru Maharaj,
We have been directed by him, however, “Chant Hare Krishna, do service to the devotees, and preach Krishna-nam. In this way you will feel my presence within your heart and in front of you.”
This manifestation, or abhishek, of the Deities is also a part of preaching. You have heard of navadha-bhakti [the nine practices of devotion],
śravaṇaṁ kīrtanaṁ viṣṇoḥ smaraṇaṁ pāda-sevanam
archanaṁ vandanaṁ dāsyaṁ sakhyam ātma-nivedanam
iti puṁsārpitā viṣṇau bhaktiś chen nava-lakṣaṇā
kriyeta bhagavaty addhā tan manye ’dhītam uttamam
(Srimad Bhagavatam: 7.5.23-24)
These are the nine parts of devotion, and one part is archan [Deity worship].
We are trying to maintain our spiritual lives with these nine kinds of devotion. But the supreme practice is Hari-nam-sankirtan. Mahaprabhu Himself said that if someone cannot do any other practice of devotion, and He can only do Harinam-sankirtan, that will be fully satisfactory for the Lord. Sravanam and kirtanam: hearing and chanting in the proper channel. In Kali-yuga that is enough for the jiva-soul.
Mahaprabhu said,
harer nāma harer nāma harer nāmaiva kevalam
kalau nāsty eva nāsty eva nāsty eva gatir anyathā
[“The Holy Name, the Holy Name, the Holy Name, is the only way. In this age of Kali there is no other way, no other way, no other way.”]
Also in Srimad Bhagavatam, 
kṛṣṇa-varṇaṁ tviṣākṛṣṇaṁ sāṅgopāṅgāstra-pārṣadam
yajñaiḥ saṅkīrtana-prāyair yajanti hi su-medhasaḥ
In many places, supported by the scriptures and Lord Krishna, we find glorification of the chanting of the Hare Krishna mahamantra.
mach-chittā mad-gata-prāṇā, bodhayantaḥ parasparam
kathayantaś cha māṁ nityaṁ, tuṣyanti cha ramanti cha
(Srimad Bhagavad-gita: 10.9)
Kathayantaś cha māṁ nityam: this is also showing Harinam-sankirtan.
satataṁ kīrtayanto māṁ yatantaś cha dṛḍha-vratāḥ
(Srimad Bhagavad-gita: 9.14)
Mahaprabhu Himself said,
nāmnām akāri bahudhā nija-sarva-śaktis
tatrārpitā niyamitaḥ smaraṇe na kālaḥ
If we can do Nam-sankirtan properly, without offence, we will get everything we want through that. Mahaprabhu gave us eight verses for the conditioned souls; the first of those eight verses is,
cheto-darpaṇa-mārjanaṁ bhava-mahā-dāvāgni-nirvāpaṇaṁ
śreyaḥ-kairava-chandrikā-vitaraṇaṁ vidyā-vadhū-jīvanam
ānandāmbudhi-vardhanaṁ prati-padaṁ pūrṇāmṛtāsvādanaṁ
sarvātma-snapanaṁ paraṁ vijayate śrī-kṛṣṇa-saṅkīrtanam
[“Sri Krsna-sankirtan cleanses the mirror of consciousness, extinguishes the raging forest fire of material existence, shines moonlight on the evening lotus of good fortune, is the life of paramour love for the Lord, expands the ocean of ecstasy, is the taste of full nectar at every moment, and soothes the entire self. May Sri Krishna-sankirtan be supremely victorious!”]
Sri Krishna-sankirtan is the highest thing in Kali-yuga, and we have no fear, and we are so fortunate no doubt, because we have received the mahamantram from our Gurudev, Srila Guru Maharaj. But we are also bound by his union and separation and we are always feeling that in our hearts. Separation of the Guru, separation of the Vaishnava, is very hard for the auspicious soul.

Separation from the devotee is the greatest pain in this world

In Ramananda-samvad of Chaitanya-charitamrta you can see Mahaprabhu questioning and Ramananda Ray answering. There is one Bengali sloka,
duḥkha-madhye kona duḥkha haya gurutara?
“What is the worst kind of pain?” and Ramananda Ray said,
kṛṣṇa-bhakta-viraha vinā duḥkha nāhi dekhi para
“Separation from the devotee is the greatest pain in this world.”
Then, this may be a very good and very auspicious day but separation of Guru Maharaj is also giving us pain, now and always. We can try to fulfil his desire, and in that way we can serve him and satisfy him. Now that is our only goal. And if Gurudev is satisfied, then Krishna is automatically satisfied. Gurudev has no separate interest. Gurudev is only seeing Krishna’s interest, and Gurudev is always, twenty-four hours a day, engaging himself in the service of Krishna, and whoever is helping him and serving him will get the supreme benefit in his life.

Gurudev’s position is like water, the disciple’s position is like a lotus, and Krishna’s position is like the sun.

You heard from Guru Maharaj and I think it is also published in the books, the example of the lotus, sun, and water. When the lotus is in water, the sun cannot burn him. The sun gives enthusiasm to the lotus and the sun himself is very happy to mix with the lotus. The lotus is also happy and blossoms nicely. But if we take that lotus from the water and put it in the earth, then the lotus will be burned by the sun. Gurudev’s position is like water, the disciple’s position is like a lotus, and Krishna’s position is like the sun. Without the connection of Guru, Krishna will burn, not help. If we think this way then we can understand what the relationship is with Krishna, the jiva-soul, and Guru. It is a very good example given by Jiva Goswami in his sad Sandarbha, the Bhakti-sandarbha especially. This is our position.
In the scriptures we can also see that when you go to worship the Deity, you must first worship Gurudev and satisfy your Gurudev, and then you can go to worship the Deity. You must first do puja of your Guru. We will get benefit from Krishna in this way. Krishna Himself said,
āchāryaṁ māṁ vijānīyān nāvamanyeta karhichit
na martya-buddhyāsāyeta sarva-deva-mayo guruḥ
(Srimad Bhagavatam: 11.17.27)
Sarva-deva-mayo guruh: all the gods are living in Gurudev’s body.
The scriptures say that Krishna and Guru, Bhagavan and Guru, have the same position, sākṣād dharitvena samasta-śāstrair. Gurudev has his own practice, and that is always within the position of service to Krishna, but I must see Gurudev nondifferent with Krishna.
sākṣād-dharitvena samasta-śāstrair
uktas tathā bhāvyata eva sadbhiḥ
kintu prabhor yaḥ priya eva tasya
(Sri Gurvastakam: 7)

Here the service of Guru is mentioned: what Krishna wants, Guru is doing that. What is preferable to Krishna, Gurudev is maintaining his service within that. In this way Guru, Krishna, and devotee have their Pastimes.


Serving in Separation
To Whom Shall I Convey My Joy?
Forced to drink nectar

“Where are the saviours of the fallen souls?”

Where are my Svarūp, Rūpa, and Sanātan? Where is my Raghunāth Dās? Where are the saviours of the fallen souls?

Srila Gurudev singing Ye anilo prema dhana on 29 June 1992 in San Jose, USA, on the disappearance day of Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur.
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ye ānila prema-dhana karuṇā prachura
hena prabhu kothā gelā āchārya ṭhākura [1]
Where has Advaita Āchārya, the Lord who mercifully brought the wealth of divine love to this world, gone?
kā̐hā mora svarūpa rūpa kā̐hā sanātana
kā̐hā dāsa raghunātha patita-pāvana [2]
Where are my Svarūp, Rūpa, and Sanātan? Where is my Raghunāth Dās? Where are the saviours of the fallen souls?
kā̐hā mora bhaṭṭa-yuga kā̐hā kavirāja
eka-kāle kothā gelā gorā naṭa-rāja [3]
Where are my Raghunāth Bhaṭṭa and Gopāl Bhaṭṭa? Where is my Kṛṣṇadās Kavirāj? Where has the great dancer Śrī Gaurāṅga suddenly gone?
pāṣāṇe kuṭiba māthā anale paśiba
gaurāṅga guṇera nidhi kothā gele pāba [4]
I will break my head on a rock, I will enter into fire—where shall I go to reach the reservoir of all qualities, Śrī Gaurāṅga?
se saba saṅgīra saṅge ye kaila vilāsa
se saṅga nā pāñā kānde narottama dāsa [5]
Not finding the association of Śrī Gaurāṅga, who performed His Pastimes with all these associates, Narottam Dās weeps.
(Śrīla Narottam Dās Ṭhākur)