A very beautiful, inspired, and flowing discourse by our Gurudev, Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Deva-Goswami Maharaj, speaking on the divine appearance day of Srila Bhakti Rakshak Sridhar Deva Goswami Maharaj in Soquel, California, 3 November 2007. Continue reading “Divine appearance day of Srila Sridhar Maharaj”
If Srila Swami Maharaj had not come to this world, where would we be?
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Talk by our Gurudev, His Divine Grace Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Deva-Goswami, on Nandotsav day, August 1988.
Today is the avirbhav day of Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaj, and also Nandotsav. Bhagavan Sri Krishna appeared in this world yesterday night with his paraphernalia.
śrī-kṛṣṇa-chaitanya prabhu jīve dayā kari’
svapārṣada svīya dhāma saha avatari
[“Being merciful to the souls, Śrī Kṛṣṇa Chaitanya Mahāprabhu descends with His associates and abode.”]
“When Bhagavan comes to this world for the fallen souls, he brings his paraphernalia with him.”
You have seen that book, Loving Search for the Lost Servant: this is the main reason for Bhagavan Krishna Chandra’s appearance in this world, and in Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu we can see that in a full-fledged form in this world. Mahaprabhu is patit-pavan avatar.
In Chaitanya-charitamrita Srila Krishna Das Kaviraj Goswami gives two reasons for Mahaprabhu’s descent: one is external and one is internal.
অনর্পিতচরীং চিরাৎ করুণয়াবতীর্ণঃ কলৌ
সমর্পয়িতুমুন্নতোজ্জ্বলরসাং স্বভক্তিশ্রিয়ম্ ।
সদা হৃদয়কন্দরে স্ফুরতু বঃ শচীনন্দনঃ
anarpita-charīṁ chirāt karuṇayāvatīrṇaḥ kalau
samarpayitum unnatojjvala-rasāṁ sva-bhakti-śriyam
sadā hṛdaya-kandare sphuratu vaḥ śachī-nandanaḥ
[“He mercifully descended in the Age of Kali to distribute in full His own wealth of bhakti, the most splendid and exalted rasa (madhura-rasa) which had never been distributed before. May Hari, abundantly radiant with beautiful golden lustre as the son of Śachī, shine forever within the core of your heart.”]
“My obeisance unto the lotus feet of Sri Sachinandan who appeared in this world to give Krishna-prema.”
This is the external cause for his appearance. And the inner cause:
শ্রীরাধায়াঃ প্রণয়মহিমা কীদৃশো বানয়ৈবা-
স্বাদ্যো যেনাদ্ভূতমধুরিমা কীদৃশো বা মদীয়ঃ ।
সৌখ্যঞ্চাস্যা মদনুভবতঃ কীদৃশং বেতি লোভা-
ত্তদ্ভাবাঢ্যঃ সমজনি শচীগর্ভসিন্ধৌ হরীন্দুঃ
śrī-rādhāyāḥ praṇaya-mahimā kīdṛśo vānayaivā-
svādyo yenādbhuta-madhurimā kīdṛśo vā madīyaḥ
saukhyaṁ chāsyā mad-anubhavataḥ kīdṛśaṁ veti lobhāt
tad-bhāvāḍhyaḥ samajani śachī-garbha-sindhau harīnduḥ
(Śrī Chaitanya-charitāmṛta, Ādi-līlā, 1.6)
[“‘What are the glories of Śrī Rādhā’s love? What sort of astonishing sweetness of Mine does She relish? What sort of happiness arises in Her alone through experiencing My sweetness?’ Ardently desiring to fully appreciate these three mysteries, Śrī Krishna, enriched with Śrī Rādhā’s devotional mood (bhāva), appeared like the moon from the ocean of Śachī Devī’s womb.”]
These are the two causes, one inner and one outer.
pṛthvīte āche yata nagarādi-grāma
sarvatra prachāra haibe mora nāma
(Śrī Chaitanya-bhāgavata, 3.4.126)
[“My name will be spread in every town and village on earth.”]
Village after village in this world, everybody will chant the Hare Krishna mahamantra. This was Mahaprabhu’s desire and prediction. And it has happened now: Mahaprabhu’s followers are going door to door in this world, and already everyone is chanting the Hare Krishna mahamantra. Five hundred years ago Mahaprabhu appeared in this world with His dham and parsad, paraphernalia. And at that time He said that the whole world will chant the Hare Krishna mahamantra in the near future. We are so fortunate that we are seeing that and hearing that: all over the world the Hare Krishna mahamantra is spreading like thunder in this world. And through this mahapurus, Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, Mahaprabhu has done it.
You have seen the face of our Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaj. I heard from him that one psychiatrist told him that he is very brave and fearless. That is, he doesn’t care about anything: where is Krishna consciousness, he gave his blessings there; otherwise he does not care about anything.
From my childhood we have seen his lotus feet, at 6 and 7 Sitakanta Banerjee Lane. We were living together with Swami Maharaj for eight or ten years in his house. He has much love for our Guru Maharaj, and he liked our Guru Maharaj. At that time Swami Maharaj was living grhastha life and he wanted to preach. But the Indian style is that they like sannyasis, and for that reason he would take Guru Maharaj with him and go many places for preaching.
In Bombay he also took Guru Maharaj and his party—Bon Maharaj, Goswami Maharaj, and others. Door to door he tried to preach in his grhastha life, household life. After that, wanting to fulfil the desire of his Gurudev, Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Goswami Thakur, who is our Param Gurudev, he took sannyas, and alone he went to the West.
Prabhupad Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur wanted to send our Guru Maharaj to the West but Guru Maharaj was hesitating at that time: he could not follow the accent of English men, and because he comes from a brahman family, he could not mix with the mlechchha society. Guru Maharaj was therefore hesitating and told Srila Prabhupad, “I am feeling very unfit for that. If you order me I must go, but it will be good if you send someone else to the West. Your preaching must be nicely spread in the West.” Prabhupad understood and knew Guru Maharaj’s nature as a ‘back pusher man’; so he did not give pressure to Guru Maharaj, and sent Aprakrita Bhakti Saranga Goswami Maharaj instead. He was a grhastha Vaishnava at that time.
Prabhupad’s desire was very clear: he wanted to spread Krishna consciousness door to door in this world, and when he saw anybody enthusiastic, he ordered him, “You are a qualified man, you can preach Mahaprabhu’s message to English men.” When Swami Maharaj first met him, at that time Prabhupad also told him, “Abhay Babu, you are a qualified man, a very qualified man, you can try to preach in the West and to Western people.”
Swami Maharaj always remembered this, and he was always very enthusiastic, very, very enthusiastic. We have seen this. He had no money, but whenever he got some money he would use that money for preaching. For that reason he could not maintain his business nicely. Whenever money would come he would spend it for Krishna consciousness. He would use that money, and his business went down. This was his nature. Lastly he thought, “I shall preach and this will be good for my life.”
He came to Guru Maharaj and asked Guru Maharaj for sannyas; but Guru Maharaj was very close with his family, and so Guru Maharaj hesitated, “If I give you sannyas, your wife and children will come and blame me. Immediately it is not good for you. You wait sometime: go to Vrindavan and wait six months or one year. Then you can take sannyas and go anywhere, and blame will not come to me.”
Swami Maharaj said, “No Maharaj, it is not possible for me to wait. I want immediately to take sannyas. And I shall go out from India.” Then Guru Maharaj said, “It is very difficult for me: Madan’s mother, your sister, will think it is wrong, and your family will also think something is wrong. You go to Keshav Maharaj: I gave sannyas to Keshav Maharaj, and you can take the mantram from there. Your desire will be fulfilled and I will be in a clear position.”
Then Swami Maharaj went to Keshav Maharaj. Guru Maharaj had given the title ‘Bhaktivedanta’ before to Swami Maharaj. After taking sannyas from Keshav Maharaj he went to Vrindavan. In Vrindavan he stayed at the Radha Damodar Temple, writing. He had previously written his Srimad Bhagavad-gita translation, while in Sita Kanta Banerjee Lane. Guru Maharaj had told me, “You go to Abhay Babu and every day hear Srimad Bhagavad-gita from him.” He was my master and I read Srila Swami Maharaj’s Srimad Bhagavad-gita in my childhood.
After taking sannyas Swami Maharaj thought, “I must go to the West.” And Krishna gave so much trouble to him. Krishna tried to examine him: “how much anxiety does he have for Myself, for spreading My Name and My fame in this world.” He wanted to know, for his lila. But Swami Maharaj was very determined, and without money, without his future maintenance, he started to go to the West. You know the history after that of Swami Maharaj; you have also read from his books, and you have seen so many of the preaching results of Srila Swami Maharaj.
When Swami Maharaj wanted to come back to India, everybody thought, “What will he preach? What he has already preached may also not be correct.” None of his godbrothers were enthusiastic to receive him nicely. Then he wrote a letter to me, “Govinda Maharaj, I want to go to India, and want to stay with Sridhar Maharaj in Nabadwip. Can you arrange it?” I told Guru Maharaj, and Guru Maharaj was very happy. Guru Maharaj told me, “You write immediately: he will come here and he will stay in this Math, in that Blue House. I am making the Blue House ready for him.” And when he came here Guru Maharaj was very happy. He came with two disciples, Achyutananda and Ramanuja. Many more disciples were in America at that time. He told the history of his preaching life, and Guru Maharaj was very happy. Guru Maharaj told me, “Can you arrange here a reception from the town people in Nabadwip?” I said, “Yes Maharaj, I shall try.” And I gave the first reception for Srila Swami Maharaj in this town hall of Nabadwip.
Then all of his godbrothers came. Every godbrother had some special affection and regard for Guru Maharaj, and when they saw that Guru Maharaj was praising Swami Maharaj then they also came to praise and give honour to Swami Maharaj.
Day by day Swami Maharaj continued spreading Krishna consciousness in this world. And you know how successful he was: now all over the world everyone is chanting the Hare Krishna mahamantra. Who does not know Hare Krishna, what Hare Krishna is, they are also telling ‘Hare Krishna’. When people see the tilak, mala, and shaved head, then they are chanting ‘Hare Krishna’. When people see us in the road when we are going from Nabadwip to Calcutta, they are telling us ‘Hare Krishna’.
yāṅhāra darśane mukhe āise kṛṣṇa-nāma
tāṅhāre jāniha tumi ‘vaiṣṇava-pradhāna’
(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta, 2.16.74)
[Śrī Chaitanya Mahāprabhu said, “A first-class Vaiṣṇava is one whose very presence makes others chant the holy name of Kṛṣṇa.”]
With the blessings of Swami Maharaj, everybody is now Vaishnava-pradhan! This is the blessings of Swami Maharaj. Guru Maharaj said that Swami Maharaj is not an ordinary Vaishnava, and not an ordinary man, but he is avatar-purus, and Bhagavan Nityananda Prabhu is spreading Krishna consciousness in this world through him. Guru Maharaj said, “Swami Maharaj is Saktyaves-avatar.” Who is Saktyaves-avatar? Vedavyas. Vedavyas is Saktyaves-avatar and spread Krishna consciousness in this world. After that Saktyaves-avatar we heard from Guru Maharaj that Swami Maharaj is Saktyaves-avatar. Some think it is a very low position; but they do not know what is the position mentioned here. You know Bhagavan Vedavyas; Vedavyas is Saktyaves-avatar. He made so many books for the jiva-souls, and glorified Bhagavan’s nama, rupa, guna, lila etc., and Swami Maharaj has also done that in this world. And Mahaprabhu said,
pṛthvīte āche yata nagarādi-grāma
sarvatra prachāra haibe mora nāma
Through Swami Maharaj it is spreading, by Lord Krishna. Here there is no doubt.
Today is a very auspicious day for us. We have got our real path; we have got the consciousness of Krishna Chandra and Mahaprabhu, Nityananda Prabhu, and Pancha Tattva etc, and we have got this through Srila Swami Maharaj. This day is that day, his appearance day. If Srila Swami Maharaj had not come to this world, where would we be?
One day when Swami Maharaj was staying in the Blue House here I was serving breakfast to him, and Swami Maharaj told me, “No, no, you also will be seated here, and Hari Charan will serve you.” Hari Charan Prabhu was there, and he was also distributing the prasadam: luchi, aloo bhaja, begum bhaja, some pakori, etc. I was there, and one table was there with Swami Maharaj, Achyutananda, and Ramanuja. But I was hesitating: I was thinking Swami Maharaj is a big Acharya, Swami Maharaj is a world Acharya, so how can I take at the same table as him? I was hesitating. Then Swami Maharaj told me, “You are thinking you will become mlechchha?” “No, no!” I told Swami Maharaj. “No, Maharaj. I can take the prasad of Achyutananda also, that is not the cause here. The only cause is that you are a big Acharya, and I am a very fallen soul. Then I cannot take with you at the same table. That is why I am hesitating.” Swami Maharaj said, “No problem, you take!” And I took the prasadam there. At that time the Indian mind was like that.
On one occasion some of Swami Maharaj’s godbrothers refused to take prasadam served by his western disciples at the Chandroday Mandir in Mayapur. When Guru Maharaj heard of this he said, “I shall take prasadam at the Iskcon temple in Mayapur. And who will go with me?” At that time Paramahamsa Maharaj was here. And Guru Maharaj said, “Maharaj, you want to go with me, to have prasadam, to Iskcon?” Paramahamsa Maharaj said, “Yes, if you go I shall go.” Krishna Das Babaji Maharaj was also there, and he said, “Yes, I shall go.” So Guru Maharaj, Krishna Das Babaji Maharaj, myself, Paramahamsa Maharaj, and one boy, Gautam, who you have seen here, all came. There is a photograph of that printed in a book of the life history of Swami Maharaj. And when Guru Maharaj took prasadam at the Iskcon Math then everybody thought, “It is okay, no problem, we also can take.” Guru Maharaj had this kind of relationship with our Swami Maharaj.
Today is very fortunate for us, Swami Maharaj’s appearance day. And on this Nandotsav day Nanda Maharaj held a great festival in his house. The day after Krishna’s appearance, on this day we are celebrating Swami Maharaj’s appearance with great joy in our hearts.
vāñchhā-kalpatarubhyaś cha kṛpā-sindhubhya eva cha
patitānāṁ pāvanebhyo vaiṣṇavebhyo namo namaḥ
[“Again and again I offer my obeisance unto the Supreme Lord’s devotees, who are saviours of the fallen, oceans of mercy, and wish-fulfilling trees.”]
The Vaishnavas are wish-fulfilling trees, they know our heart. We cannot properly express our heart, but the Vaishnava knows everything, and he must be merciful. I am so fortunate because Swami Maharaj said in his lecture, “Govinda Maharaj is like my son.” This is my fortune.
Śrīla Rūpa Goswāmī’s style was very peaceful. Mahāprabhu chose Rūpa Goswāmī as the leader of His sampradaya, and so there is special honour for Rūpa Goswāmī. Śrīla Sanātan Goswāmī was very busy in Vṛndāvan, but Rūpa Goswāmī Prabhu was not so busy like Sanātan Goswāmī. Śrīla Dās Goswāmī was following Rūpa Goswāmī. Dās Goswāmī was also a shy-natured man. And Śrīla Jīva Goswāmī was exalted with his quality and qualification, both. He was a great fighter for the sampradāya. Śrīla Prabhupād Saraswatī Goswāmī’s nature was like Jīva Goswāmī.
Śrīla Guru Mahārāj’s nature was something like Jīva Goswāmī, and something like Rūpa Goswāmī. Guru Mahārāj liked to fight, that was his nature. Anywhere that any fighting was going on, he was the first to go there. Once Guru Mahārāj was sick in Badarik Ashram, and with Guru Mahārāj was a qualified party: they were big pandits with different types of qualifications, like Sanskrit. A paṇḍit come and debated with our paṇḍits while Guru Mahārāj was in the next room, sick with pneumonia. But our paṇḍits could not control that visiting paṇḍit. Then Guru Mahārāj sat up in his bed and said, “Who is talking, bring him to me.” They went to Guru Mahārāj’s room, and that man took an atheistic position for debating with Guru Mahārāj, but seeing the face of Guru Mahārāj, and hearing only one śloka from Guru Mahārāj, he fell down at his lotus feet.
That paṇḍit asked, “What is the proof that the ātmā exists? Is there any proof?” And Guru Mahārāj immediately told that man,
hy astīti nāstīti bhidārtha-niṣṭhaḥ
[vyartho ’pi naivoparameta puṁsāṁ
mattaḥ parāvṛtta-dhiyāṁ sva-lokāt]
(Śrīmad Bhāgavatam: 11.22.34)
[The speculative argument of philosophers — “This world is real,” “No, it is not real” — is based upon incomplete knowledge of the Supreme Soul and is simply aimed at understanding material dualities. Although such argument is useless, persons who have turned their attention away from Me, their own true Self, are unable to give it up.]
That man was shocked to hear this, because he knew that śloka, he confessed. He took the feet of Guru Mahārāj, “Mahārāj, the answer is coming timely to you, not to me. This is the difference from you and me. I do not want to debate with you.” He was a great paṇḍit, but he surrendered to Guru Mahārāj.
ātmāparijñāna-mayo vivādo hy astīti nāstīti
“It is existing or not?” This type of question always comes, but we are all seeing that it is existing. When the body dies, the spirit goes out from the body and the body is spoiled. What better example can you give than this? Within the body was a kind of spirit, and when it goes from the body, within three days it will be spoiled and gas will come from that body. It is proved, but still they are asking, “It is or not?”
Everywhere we see the quality and qualification of ātmā, in everything we see the presence of ātmā. I am talking with you, you are intelligent, I am also intelligent, and we are both talking diplomatically about everything; who is doing that? Who is the diplomat living inside? You want to defeat me, and I want to defeat you, but in which way, and who is holding that brain? And when it is going out from the body everything is useless. There will be only insects, and nothing else inside. After three days you will only get insects growing there.
Spoken by Srila Gurudev during his visit to Italy in September 2000
Sriman Devashis Prabhu discusses his appreciation for Srila Gurudev and Srila Param Guru Maharaj in this informal discussion.
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 
[“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 Thakur’s 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 
śrī-gaura kṛpāya dui mahimā ki kaba mui
[“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.
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,
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.
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.
“Everything is covered in this book Prapanna-jīvanāmṛtam, and if you read it minutely you must stand in the plane of dedication.”
It is necessary to complete the first lesson, the second lesson, and the third lesson, then it is possible to understand the fourth lesson. Śrīla Guru Mahārāj gave those first three lessons in Śrī Śrī Prapanna-jīvanāmṛtam [Life-Nectar of the Surrendered Souls] as well as the fourth. If you read this book carefully, you will get everything.
Śrīla Guru Mahārāj has given there the meaning of śaraṇāgati, in particular in this following śloka:
bhagavad-bhaktitaḥ sarvam ity utsṛjya vidher api
kaiṅkaryaṁ kṛṣṇa-pādaikāśrayatvaṁ śaraṇāgatiḥ
[“Being governed by the faith that all success is achieved by serving the Supreme Lord, to abandon servitude to even scriptural injunctions and take exclusive refuge in the lotus feet of Śrī Kṛṣṇa in every time, place, and circumstance, is known as śaraṇāgati, unconditional surrender.”]
What is śaraṇāgati? It is Bhagavad-bhaktitaḥ sarvam: it is not even necessary to serve any other god or demigod; through only the service to Kṛṣṇa we can get everything. Therefore we must take shelter at the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa. Service to Kṛṣṇa can give us everything and this type of faith is called śaraṇāgati. If you can memorise one śloka and put that in your heart, then from this one śloka you will get everything given in any scripture.
I tried before to know in one sentence what is śaraṇāgati. We know that śaraṇāgati is surrender, but that is not sufficient. Therefore I asked Śrīla Guru Mahārāj. He replied, “Have you not read Prapanna-jīvanāmṛtam?”
I said, “Yes Mahārāj, I have, but is the explanation there?” Then he quoted this same śloka, and this is the main thing.
Devotee: I heard that Śrīla Guru Mahārāj explained the difference between śaraṇāgati and ātma-nivedanam. Please explain to us what that difference is.
Śrīla Govinda Mahārāj: There are six kinds of śaraṇāgati. In Prapanna-jīvanāmṛtam this is explained and in each case there are examples and expressions of the feelings of other devotees. If you read this book you can understand. There Śrīla Guru Mahārāj explains the subject very clearly and very nicely.
Devotee: What is the meaning of ātma-nivedanam?
Śrīla Govinda Mahārāj: The following verse describes the six kinds of symptoms of śaraṇāgati. Ātma-nikṣepa means ātma-nivedanam.
ānukūlyasya saṅkalpaḥ prātikūlya-vivarjanam
rakṣiṣyatīti viśvāso goptṛtve varaṇaṁ tathā
ātma-nikṣepa kārpaṇye ṣaḍ-vidhā śaraṇāgatiḥ
[The six limbs of surrender are:
1) To accept everything favourable for devotion to Kṛṣṇa.
2) To reject everything unfavourable for devotion to Kṛṣṇa.
3) To be confident that Kṛṣṇa will grant His protection.
4) To embrace Kṛṣṇa’s guardianship.
5) To offer one’s self unto Him.
6) To consider oneself lowly and bereft.]
Devotee: What about nava-vidhā bhakti, the nine principal forms of devotion?
Śrīla Govinda Mahārāj: There are nine kinds of devotional practices: śravaṇam, kīrtanam, Viṣṇoḥ smaraṇam, pāda-sevanam, archanam, vandanam, dāsyam, sakhyam, and ātma-nivedanam [Hearing and chanting the glories of the Lord, constantly remembering the Lord, serving the Lord’s lotus feet, serving Him as a servant, worshipping Him, offering prayers, serving Him as a friend, and completely offering the Lord one’s very self.]. They are also included in śaraṇāgati, unconditional self-surrender. But śaraṇāgati is the first thing—and śaraṇāgati is the last thing. If you want to enter into transcendental knowledge, you must first take shelter of śaraṇāgati. This is the first lesson and this is the last lesson.
Everything is covered in this book Prapanna-jīvanāmṛtam, and if you read it minutely you must stand in the plane of dedication. Many examples are given there from the scriptures as well as from the devotees’ lives. It is divided into the six kinds of śaraṇāgati, part by part. It is a very valuable and nice book, no doubt, and everything is there including this verse spoken by Śrī Chaitanya Mahāprabhu:
nāhaṁ vipro na cha nara-patir nāpi vaiśyo na śūdro
nāhaṁ varṇī na cha gṛha-patir no vana-stho yatir vā
gopī-bhartuḥ pada-kamalayor dāsa-dāsānudāsaḥ
[“I am not a priest, a king, a merchant, or labourer (brāhmaṇ, kṣatriya, vaiśya, or śūdra); nor am I a student, a householder, a retired householder, or a mendicant (brahmachārī, gṛhastha, vānaprastha, or sannyāsī). I identify myself only as the servant of the servant of the servant of the lotus feet of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the Lord of the gopīs, who is the personification of the fully expanded (eternally self-revealing) nectarean ocean that brims with the totality of divine ecstasy.”]
Devotee: Is it necessary to have gone through Śrīmad Bhagavad-gītā, Śrīmad Bhāgavatam, and Chaitanya-charitāmṛta before reading Prapanna-jīvanāmṛtam?
Śrīla Govinda Mahārāj: No, it is not necessary. This is the first book of reading—and this is the last book of reading. Śrīmad Bhagavad-gītā is also no doubt the first book of reading and the last book of reading, but there are many things there mixed in with bhakti.
In Prapanna-jīvanāmṛtam is found only bhakti, and nothing else. But in the Gītā is some description about karma, yoga, jñān, and many other things; that is why everybody likes Śrīmad Bhagavad-gītā. The karmīs like it, the terrorists like Gītā, the yogīs like Gītā, Mahātmā Gandhi liked it, Jawaharlal liked it—everybody likes Bhagavad-gītā. The reason is that they each receive something from it to fulfil their own purpose. But in Śrī Śrī Prapanna-jīvanāmṛtam whatever is included is only for the purpose of devotion: the relationship between Kṛṣṇa and the jīva. It is a very pure devotional book.
Śrīla Swāmī Mahārāj said to his sister, “This Prapanna-jīvanāmṛtam is a very important and nice book. You have money, so please you spend some money for the printing of this Prapanna-jīvanāmṛtam.” Her name was Bhāvinī Didi. We called her Pishima or ‘Madan’s Mother’ and it was she who subsequently gave the money for the first printing.
Another of the very high type of ślokas there, is the following verse by Śrī Kulaśekhar:
nāsthā dharme na vasu-nichaye naiva kāmopabhoge
yad yad bhavyaṁ bhavatu bhagavan pūrva-karmānurūpam
etat prārthyaṁ mama bahu-mataṁ janma-janmāntare ’pi
tvat pādāmbhoruha-yuga-gatā niśchalā bhaktir astu
[“O Lord, I have no faith in religion, economic development, or sense enjoyment. May all these come to pass as they are ordained according to my previous karma. My earnest prayer is that birth after birth I may have unflinching devotion to Your lotus feet.”]
It is not very difficult to understand what Kṛṣṇa-bhakti is, but what is necessary is the mood of surrender. If you surrender then you can understand everything. But if you do not fully surrender, then many difficulties will come. There is no difficulty for the surrendered soul.
Excerpt from Golden Reflections, compiled from Srila Gurudev‘s talks.
Related reading: “New Year’s Resolution: Full Surrender”
Read the full text of Sri Sri Prapanna-jivanamrtam online here
Download a pdf file of scans of the original book here
Srila Gurudev chanting Sriman Nityananda Dvadasakam in 1988. Download mp3 audio here.
Receiving inspiration from Nityananda Prabhu, Srila Guru Maharaj wrote the Nityananda-dvadasakam. And there very nicely Guru Maharaj expressed his heart’s desire and glorified Nityananda Prabhu. I can remember one sloka now,
śrī-kṛṣṇa-premanāmā parama-sukhamayaḥ ko ’pyachintyaḥ padārtho
yad gandhāt sajjanaughā nigama-bahumataṁ mokṣam apy ākṣipanti
[“He distributes the inconceivable substance made of the highest ecstasy known as Sri Krishna-prema, by finding just the fragrance of which the sadhus throw away with disdain the liberation of oneness with Brahman described by the Vedas.”]
Something has appeared in this mundane world, and that is Sri Krishna-prema. We can see a little appearance of that, and that thing is parama-sukhamaya [supremely ecstatic] and achintya padartho [inconceivable]. We cannot guess what kind of thing Krishna-prema is, but it gives us six kinds of property and wealth. That is,
kleśa-ghnī śubha-dā mokṣa-laghutā-kṛt su-durlabhā
sāndrānanda-viśeṣātmā śrī-kṛṣṇākarṣiṇī cha sā
(Sri Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu: 1.1.17)
[“Pure devotion is the destroyer of affliction, the bestower of goodness, utterly trivialises liberation, is extremely rarely obtained, is extreme ecstasy itself, and is the attractor—subjugator—of Sri Krishna Himself.”]
It can attract Krishna directly. That is Krishna-prema. Krishna may be sleeping, Krishna may be eating, Krishna may be doing many things, but anywhere that Krishna is, the devotee can attract Him with the highest devotion, which is called Krishna-prema. And that has appeared a little bit in this world and the whole world is dancing in the name of Krishna. And that parama-sukhamayah achintyah padartho was distributed by Nityananda Prabhu. That is Krishna-prema.
yad gandhāt sajjanaughā nigama-bahumataṁ mokṣam apy ākṣipanti
And getting a little essence of that scent of Krishna-prema many big, big religious stalwarts are throwing the moksa-vanchha, desire for liberation.
Sukadev Goswami himself said,
pariniṣṭhito ’pi nairguṇye uttamaḥśloka-līlayā
gṛhīta-chetā rājarṣe ākhyānaṁ yad adhītavān
(Srimad Bhagavatam: 2.1.9)
“I was the greatest saint of this world who did not care for anything of this mundane world, or even for mukti; who left dharma [mundane piety], artha [wealth], kama [sense pleasure], moksa [liberation] from his mother’s womb and who with full consciousness of Brahma was living in the supramental plane. I was that type of saint, but I was attracted by the scent of the Gopis’ Krishna-prema. And I ran to my father Vedavyasa who distributed many things in this world through his scriptures, who exposed the Vedas in this world. I learned from him this Krishna-lila, and I want to tell that in this meeting. Please give your fine attention to this discussion.”
pariniṣṭhito ’pi nairguṇye uttamaḥśloka-līlayā
“No deviation can come from nirgun-brahma [the transcendental realm beyond the modes of material nature], and I was that type of man, but I was attracted by that Bhagavat-lila, and now I want to speak about that.”
Without the mercy, without the blessings of Nityananda Prabhu we will never get that type of Krishna-prema.
Spoken by Srila Gurudev on 4 December 1989.