All Glories to Sri Brahma Madhva Gaudiya Säraswata Sampradäya (lineage). All Glories to my beloved Grand Spiritual Master His Divine Grace Çåila Bhakti Siddhänta Saraswati Goswämi Thäkur PRABHUPÄDA & my beloved Spiritual Master His Divine Grace Çåíla Bhakti Pramode Puri Goswämi Thäkur.
Supreme Lord Çåí Kåñëa is the original personality of Godhead. In order to manifest a play, Lord Kåñëa expanded Himself into four principal forms, known as Çåí Väsudev, Çåí Sankarñan, Çåí Pradyumna and Çåí Aniruddha. To fulfil the desire of Kåñëa, Sankaåñan further expands Himself into five forms called, Çåí Kärnodakashäyi Mahäviñnu, Çåí Garbhodakasäyi Mahäviñnu and Çåí Ksirodakasäyi Mahäviñnu, Mahäsankaåñan and Çåí Seña. Çåí Kärnodakasäyi Mahäviñnu glanced towards mäya (illusion) and created the material universe. To decorate the universe, from the navel of Çåí Garbhodakasäyi Mahäviñnu, appeared a lotus stem and from the top of the lotus flower, appeared Brahmä, the first living entity of this material universe. Along the entire length of the lotus stem is where the fourteen planetary systems are situated. Above Earth, the seven planetary systems (lokä) are Bhü, Bhüvah, Sväh, Moho, Janã, Tapã, and Satyã. Below Earth, the seven planets are Tal, Atalã, Vitalã, Sütalã, Rasätalã, Talätalã and Pätalã. All of these planetary systems are material worlds. The topmost planetary system, Satyã lokä, is where Brahmä appeared. Then Brahmä was instructed by the Supreme Lord to create all living entities. The scriptures give detail about the number of species in each group. In total there are 8.4-million different species going through the cycle of birth and death. 900,000 of the total are aquatic species, 2 million are nonmoving living entities such as trees and stones, 1,100,000 are insects, maggot-worm and reptiles, 1 million different birds species, 3 million different animals and 400,000 human species. These are the total 8.4 million species of living entities that exist within the material worlds.
This material world is compared to a stage, and all the living entities are compared to actors on that stage. But in the drama of material existence, what should be our role on this stage? The stage has been set by the Lord for us to perform our role of service in pleasing the Lord and satisfying the Lord’s senses. The Lord has given humans sufficient intelligence to use our free will correctly and play the right role in this stage of material existence.
One should not have even a whiff of smell for their own sense gratification, regardless of the varnashrama they belong to. To elaborate, if a person is a householder, he or she should think that the house is for Kåñëa’s services. They should marry for Kåñëa’s happiness, conceive children for Kåñëa’s services and look after the children as Kåñëa’s servant. The child should be raised accordingly with the knowledge of Kåñëa Consciousness. If a person is following the renounced ashram, then he or she should also have Kåñëa in the centre of their daily activities. To further explain this point, let us imagine a circle with a dot in the centre of that circle. The circle revolves around that one point in the centre. Likewise, Kåñëa is the centre point in the circle of life of all the living entities and our activities must revolve around Kåñëa’s pleasure for us to live in absolute harmony. Therefore, it does not matter which ashram one belongs to, the only motivational centre point should be Kåñëa.
The farther we move away from Kåñëa and distance ourselves from Him, the closer we move towards mäya and the easier we fall in the trap of mäya. We can think intellectually only when we are in this human form of life. When we do so, we understand the main reason of our suffering in this material world. Our challenge is to remove our suffering, but most of the time we think that suffering can be removed by earning lots of material wealth. Even after collecting lots of wealth, we will ultimately face death. The Supreme Lord becomes unhappy seeing the suffering of human beings, to whom he gave sufficient intelligence and free will too. So, in order to teach us the actual way-out from our suffering, the Lord appears in the form of His pure devotees. We get this information from the famous Vaishnava book, Çåí Caitanya Caritämrta written by Çåíla Kåñëadas Kaviraj Goswämipad,
guru kåñëa-rüpa hana çästrera pramäëe
guru-rüpe kåñëa kåúpa karena bhakta-gaëe
The literal meaning of this verse is that Lord Sri Kåñëa appeared in the form of guru; all the devotees are getting mercy of Lord Sri Kåñëa via the guru.
“guru” means “heavy”. Heavy because He is the representative of Kåñëa. There are two syllables in the word “guru” i.e. ‘gu’, which means darkness of ignorance and ‘ru’ means effulgence which removes the darkness. Hence Guru is the person who can bring us out of the darkness of material universe to the light of transcendence. He teaches us the method of spiritual practice by his own example. Therefore, Guru is not an ordinary human being. He should be appointed by Kåñëa’s representative.
There are several types of Gurus. First is vartmah pradarçak guru who shows us the true spiritual path and guides us towards a sad-guru (true spiritual master). For example, when I was a little boy, my grandfather Madan Mohan Das Adhikari prabhu, disciple of His Divine Grace Çåíla Prabhupäda Bhakti Siddhänta Sarawsati Goswämi Thäkur, founder acärya (initiating spiritual master) of all Gaudiya maths and mission, inspired me by his spiritual practice and used to take me to meet his godbrothers. I met many of my grandfather’s godbrothers including, His Divine Grace Çåíla Bhakti Dayita Mädhav Goswämi Mahäräj, His Divine Grace Çåíla Bhakti Rakshak Sridhardev Goswämi Mahäräj, His Divine Grace Çåíla Bhakti Kusum Çaraman Goswämi Mahäräj, His Divine Grace Çåíla Bhakti Kumud Santa Goswämi Mahäräj, His Divine Grace Çåíla Bhakti Vichär Yäyävar Goswämi Mahäräj, His Divine Grace Çåíla Bhakti Kamal Madhusudhan Goswämi Mahäräj, His Divine Grace Çåíla Bhakti Mayukh Bhägvat Goswämi Mahäräj and many more.
Once, my spiritual master came to my grandfather’s residence. As soon as I met with him, I immediately felt a deep attachment towards him. His softness, humility, scholarliness and other Vaishnava qualities attracted me. My grandfather often used to say, “All my godbrothers are self-realised personalities (jívan mukta mahäpuruña). Whoever you feel attachment towards, you are free to take initiation from him, that is if my godbrother accepts you as his disciple.” Thus, my spiritual master His Divine Grace Çåíla Bhakti Pramode Puri Goswämi Thäkur accepted me as his disciple, eight years after I had first approached him and after testing my perseverance in different ways. For example, when I first approached him to accept me, he said “You have made the wrong choice; for I am a poor brahmin sannyasi and I live in my godbrother’s temple. I don’t have any centre or temples. You will suffer if you take initiation from me. It is better for you to take initiation from an äcärya who has many centres and then you will have many places to stay.” I responded by saying “It is not a problem for me, and I still would like to take initiation from you”. He replied, “You are too young, you have not graduated and if you do not graduate with a good education standing, then you will not be able to understand the deeper meanings of different scriptures, and so on”.
Through my grandfather who was my vartma-pradarçak guru, I found my initiating spiritual master. My Spiritual master, His Divine Grace Çåíla Bhakti Pramode Puri Goswämi Thäkur after my initiation, was also my çikña guru. My spiritual master to used say, “All my godbrothers who are physically present right now are all eligible to teach you”. Also, he added that His Divine Grace Çåíla Bhakti Ballabh Tirtha Goswämi Mahäräj (äcärya of Sri Caitanya Gaudiya Math) and His Divine Grace Çåíla Bhakti Vijyan Bhärati Goswämi Mahäräj (general secretary of Sri Caitanya Gaudiya Math) can give me çikña as well. Thus, they are all are my çikña gurus.
There is another type of guru called caitya-guru, who is residing in our heart as paramãtmä. This is actually kçirodakaçäyi mahävñinu who resides in hearts of all living entities as the super soul – paramãtmä. Eventually, this caitya guru will come to us in the form of our initiating guru (dikña guru). I hope that you all can understand from this brief summary of the role of the four different gurus in our spiritual life.
Spirituality means to fix our mind towards the Lord and His services. dikña and çikña gurus teach us how to fix our mind towards the Lord and His services by example. Therefore, we should follow in their footsteps (änugatya). Also, we must keep in mind that guru is not an individual. guru is the embodiment of the Absolute Truth (Supreme Lord Sri Kåñëa). One who initiates and guides us, they are the actual representative of Sri Kåñëa. One of our greatest åasikäcärya, Çåíla Vishwanätha Chakravarty Thäkur wrote in a song called Guru-Ashtakam, “säkshäd-haritvenä samasta çästrer-uktastathä bhävyad eva sadbih” meaning that the mercy of Kåñëa comes to the jiva (living entity) only through His pure devotee (guru), and we understand that all the scriptures reveal the truth that guru is nondifferent from Kåñëa (Hari). However, there are differences. guru becomes old but Kåñëa does not become old (always remain young). We know that Lord Sri Kåñëa Caitanya Mahäprabhu, Lord Räma and Lord Kåñëa did not have grey hairs, moustache or facial hairs, but we see that guru may grow a moustache and grey hairs. Kåñëa is brihad (huge) and parama-içwara (controller of all the universes) but on the other hand guru is not able to control the entire universe. As per Çåilä Vishwanätha Chakravarty Thäkur how much guru is dear to Lord that much Godliness He possesses. Hence it is clear that he is different from Kåñëa.
Kåñëa is the controller of mäya but guru can fall under the illusion of mäya as per the song below of Çåíla Bhakti Vinode Thäkur:
prathame chilen tini sadguru pradhän
vrame näma apäradhê hoy hatagyän
vaishnavê viddesh kari chäre näma rasa
krame krame hoy artha kaminira bósh (näma mähätyma)
‘At first he was chief spiritual master. Being desirous of self-recognition, name, fame and having the tendency of blaspheming other Vaishnavas (sädhu nindä), he gradually commits näma aparädha (offenses towards the Holy Name). Through näma aparädha he loses the taste for chanting and gradually becomes attached to wealth and sensual desire.
An article written by Çåíla Bhakti Vinode Thäkur states:
“Human beings are not able to get the taste of hari-näma because of their offenses. Transcendental hari-näma is the embodiment of all devotional mellows. When one chants without offenses, then they realise those mellows in their hearts. When one chants the transcendental Holy Name with purity, the heart will become joyful, tears will stream down their eyes, and they will experience symptoms of devotional ecstasy. If one chants the Hare Kåñëa mahämantra but does not experience these symptoms, then one should know that due to offensive chanting their hearts have become hard like a rock. It is the duty of a spiritual practitioner (sädhaka) to chant the Hare Kåñëa mahämantra without offenses. One who instructs an unfaithful person to chant Harê Kåñëa mahämantra, is a näma aparädhi (causes offense towards the Holy Name).
If someone offers a pearl to pig, the pig will not know the value of it. Since pig does not realise what the pearl is, it will ignore it. Similarly, it is improper to instruct one to chant the Hare Kåñëa mahämantra who does not have faith in chanting. It is our primary duty to increase their faith in chanting the Hare Kåñëa mahämantra (by glorifying hari-näma with the help of hari-katha.) If there is something that can be done to increase one’s faith, then doing that would be the duty. When they gain enough faith, then can we instruct them to chant hari-näma. Out of false ego whoever thinks themselves to be Gurus and gives hari–näma initiation to faithless people, then they fall from their position due to their offense towards harinäma. According to scriptures, Kåñëa appeared in this material world in the form of His Holy Name. Although it is only a syllable, the Holy Name is the transcendental form of Kåñëa.”
The näma and the nämi (person with the name, ie, Kåñëa) are nondifferent. Bearing this in our mind that Kåñëa descended from His own abode Goloka Våindävan as His Holy Name, we are playing our part in Kåñëa’s drama on the stage of material existence.
In order to be eternally connected to the Supreme Lord Çåí Kåñëa, we must follow devotional principals in our daily life and take association of pure devotees (guru and Vaishnavas).
I mentioned earlier how should we place Kåñëa in the centre of our life. As a householder, whatever be our profession in line with devotional principles, everything we do should be connected to Kåñëa. For example, whatever we earn for maintaining our livelihood, we should use it to maintain Kåñëa’s family. Everything we cook, if we offer to Kåñëa then we can honour sanctified food (prasädam). We can travel to Holy places that are connected to Kåñëa and His pure devotees. In that way, we can engage all our activities in the service of Kåñëa and relate to Him.
All living entities are Vaishnavas. This is because all living entities originated from Vishnu. But, we are not serving the Lord and we struggle to fix our minds in serving Him. This material world is full of misery. We have financial success, academic success, and many other ways in which we feel successful, yet we feel that something is missing in our lives. The missing part is that we are away from the role that Kåñëa gave us to perform—to become His eternal servant, being attached in His services. Only then shall we be able to free ourselves from the 8.4 million species of miserable cycle of birth and death. We must establish our attachment towards Kåñëa and deliver ourselves from the miserable material world and realise our eternal identity.
As a human being, our primary duty is to establish our eternal identity with proper balance between our material duties and spiritual practices. We should not ignore our material duties since we are placed in the material world. In order to attain eternal identity, we should seek for spiritual association to get the help for practising pure devotional path (sudha-bhakti). As per our above discussion, human get their nature, culture and language from the influence of their association.
In order to fulfil the following two predictions, Çåí Kåñëa Caitanya Mahäprabhu, brought His spiritual descendant, My Grand Spiritual Master His Divine Grace Çåíla Bhakti Siddhänta Saraswati Goswämi Thäkur PRABHUPÄDA, at Çåí Jagganäth Puri through Çåíla Bhakti Vinode Thakür:
- “hritkale purushotammät” (Supreme Lord’s glories will spread around the world from Purushottam Dham (Çåí Jagganäth Puri) mentioned in Padma Purana, and
- His own word as mentioned by Çåilä Kåñëadas Kaviraj Goswämipada in Sri Caitanya Caritämrita that “in every village and town of this world, His name will spread”.
Lord also empowered PRABHUPÄDA to establish distinguished devotional centres, named Sri Chaitanyä Math and Sri Gaudiyä Math. Çåíla Prabhupada designated His disciples as ‘vipada uddhärana bhändav’ in the last vyäsa puja festival, 1936 at Mayapur, in one of His lectures explained as follows:
“We are unable to see bhagavän here. The devotees who serve bhagavän bestow their mercy on us and give us the ability to see bhagavän. Their activities are to be followed and they are our one and only way towards auspiciousness. Due to having very little knowledge, many people, out of their own insignificant experience, try to equate the mentality of the devotees of bhagavän to that of a slave mentality. Let those who speak from a state of mental aberration speak whatever pleases them. However, our understanding will be:
parivadatu jano yatha tatha va
nanu mukharo na vayam vicarayamah
bhuvi viluthama natama nirvisama
“We will roll in the foot-dust of the devotees. We will not make anybody our disciple; we have not and we shall not either. This is because, if it happens, then we will run in the wrong direction due to being tempted by the tastes of non-devotees. All of you are my spiritual masters (gurus). Have mercy on this fallen soul thinking him to be your disciple.”
After my Grand Spiritual Master’s physical departure from this world, in order to expand the loving mission of Çåí Kåñëa Caitanya Mahaprabhu, and fullfill the desire of their beloved Çåíla PRABHUPÄDA, my spiritual master His Divine Grace Çåíla Bhakti Pramode Puri Goswämi Thakur established Çåí Gopinath Gaudiya Math. Similarly, my instructing spiritual master, His Divine Grace Çåíla Bhakti Dayita Madhav Goswämi Mahäräj established Çåí Chaitanyä Gaudiyä Math; His Divine Grace Çåíla Bhakti Rakshak Sridhardev Goswämi Mahäräj established Çåí Caitnya Saraswat Math; His Divine Grace Çåí Bhakti Pragyän Keshav Goswämi Mahäräj established Çåí Gaudiya Vendänta Samiti; His Divine Grace Çåí Bhakti Vedanta Swami Goswämi Mahäräj (Prabhupada) established ISKCON; His Divine Grace Çåíla Bhakti Säranga Goswämi Mahäräj established Çåí Çåí Gaur Nitäyanada temple and so on.
All the societies that are established by our guru-varga and their followers have their ultimate goal to encourage spirituality through their activities, hence fixing everyone’s mind towards Kåñëa and His services. If we really want to follow spirituality, then we should seek like-minded and higher association. Amongst all these societies we must seek for the association that is non-sectarian, non-judgemental and maintaining amicable relationships with each other. This will give us taste of Lord Chaitanya’s loving mission—prema (pure love for Kåñëa). This is the ultimate way to realize our identity.
I humbly pray to my spiritual master as well as all the members of our lineage, Çåí Bhrama Mädhva Gaudiya Saraswata Sampradäya, to bestow their mercy on this fallen soul and give me the potency to perform my role in ‘Kåñëa’s Play’, under your loving guidance, for the rest of my life. I pray that I may fulfil yours and Sri Kåñëa Caitanya’s desire to spread the loving message by example around the world till the last breath of my life.
Yours in the Service of Sri Kåñëa Caitanya Mahäprabhu’s mission, and
Seeker of tiny particle of dust from the lotus feet of pure devotees.
President, Sri Gopinäth Gaudiya Math
20th August 2021