We cannot be freed from this body—the medium by which we experience endless suffering in this world of matter—until we hear hari-kathā and the glories of Guru and Vaiṣṇava. When we develop faith in the glory and instructions of sādhus we can understand that our time in saṁsāra is coming to an end. That is when we come on the path to liberation.

The hearts of the sādhus are softer than pure butter. They are concerned about the welfare of everyone. Just by hearing about their mercy and qualities one becomes purified. If someone is not progressing, even after hearing the glories of Vaiṣṇavas—or in other words, if he does not sincerely associate with the sādhus and accept their hari-kathā and instructions—then there is no one as unfortunate, foolish, and wretched as he in the whole world.

Out of his exemplary humility, Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Prabhupāda used to sing Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura’s song:

gorā pāhu nā bhajiyā mainu

prema-ratana-dhana helāya hārāinu

O Lord Gaurāṅga! I never engaged in Your worship. Because of my negligence, I have lost my chance. I am robbed of the priceless jewel of prema.

Some people come to the āśrama of Śrī Guru but do not make relation with the sādhus. Instead, they make relation with wicked people who are absorbed in efforts to gratify their senses. They are attracted to these people. They make relation with them, but not with the sādhus. They do not take care to establish sambandha with the associates of Bhagavān. This is their misfortune. It is surprising, that if people from outside help them in even the smallest way, they come indebted to them and always think about them while, on the other hand, although Guru and Vaiṣṇavas are doing everything for them and are ready to do so unconditionally, they still do not have faith or relation with them.

When Mahāprabhu came to Jagannātha Purī, He connected everyone’s heart with the bhaktas and thus with bhakti and Jagannātha Himself. Through the bhaktas a connection with Jagannātha can be established. With their help, you can see the Supreme Lord in truth and develop a nature with which you can serve Him and achieved His mercy.
The devotees have this spiritual nature within their heart. One can attain this nature by their mercy.

We cannot find such spiritual nature anywhere in the market place. We only get it from sādhus, who are situated in sac-cid-ananda-tattva.
The sādhus wield the power of sandhini-śakti, the presiding deity of which is Baladeva Prabhu. The sādhus can rid us of our acquired mundane nature and false ego and awaken our dormant relation with guru and Kṛṣṇa by the power of sandhini-śakti.

When one is connected to hladinī-śakti, one achieves hladinī-vṛtti or service tendency. When connected to cit-śakti, one gets transcendental knowledge or understanding. Śrī Guru is the embodiment of sat-cid-ananda—all three of these śaktis, and can give us the blessings of these śaktis.

Please the sādhus; only then will you progress. How are sādhus pleased? Kṛṣṇa says:

tad viddhi praṇipātena

paripraśnena sevayā

upadekṣyanti te jñānaṁ

jñāninas tattva-darśinaḥ

Bhagavad-gītā 4.34

By humbly approaching a seer of the truth—a self-realized sādhu, inquiring from him submissively, and offering service to him, one can achieve spiritual knowledge.

You must offer obeisance to them. If you offer obeisance but do not do sevā, then there will be no use of your obeisance. What is sevā? To massage with oil, wash clothes, and prepare tasty foodstuffs—is this sevā? Never! The sādhu does not need that.

Where is the path of liberation? What is that path like? We cannot know unless we are detached in disposition from our material body. We jīvas are from tathaṣṭha-śakti. We are either on the side of the body and māyā, or we are on the side of the soul and the Supreme Soul. We are in between these two, however there is no resting place there.
We are bound to choose a side. Which side will we take? Will we chose the bodily consciousness and sense-enjoyment or will we look towards the Supreme Soul, Paramātmā?

Paramātmā is so close to us, but because we are attached to this body, we are in truth so far away from Him. Our minds can be the means to bring about liberation, as well as bondage. These are the teachings of Kṛṣṇa.

Gurudeva said, “If you do not have tattva-jñāna, pure knowledge, then go to sādhus. Sādhus will give you tattva-jñāna. Without this you can never become free from your illusionary attachments.”

You have so much attachment for your skin, flesh, and blood that you become blind. Thus bound, you will surely think of this body as you breathe your last breath. You will think of your family and your wealth and all that is related to your body. Therefore, try to become liberated even while you live in this world.

Real mukti, or liberation, means becoming established in your spiritual form. Mukunda, gives mukti and the service of Himself. If you desire to be liberated, you need to become like the gosvāmīs. Wherever you are, never be attached to your body and only take things that are offered to God to maintain your body. Accept nothing but prasāda, then you will be free from the desire for bhoga and yoga. You will be free from roga, disease, also. Attachment to Bhagavān will arise to the degree that detachment from mundanity is practiced.

When you engage your body in the service of Bhagavān then gradually you will achieve aprākṛta-citta-vṛtti, transcendental spiritual nature, and you will achieve divine bliss. As long as you are attached to this body and engaged day and night in serving it, then will remained bound in the material world. Therefore, Mahāprabhu Himself said:

kāmādīnāṁ kati na katidhā pālitā durṇideśās

teṣāṁ jātā mayi na karuṇā na trapā nopaśāntiḥ

utsṛjyaitān atha yadu-pate sāmprataṁ labdha-buddhis

tvām āyātaḥ śaraṇam abhayaṁ māṁ niyuṅkṣvātma-dāsye

O my Lord, there is no limit to the unwanted orders of lusty desires. Although I have rendered these desires so much service, they have not shown any mercy to me. I have not been ashamed to serve them, nor have I even desired to give them up. O my Lord, O head of the Yadu dynasty, recently, however, my intelligence has been awakened, and now I am giving them up. Due to transcendental intelligence, I now refuse to obey the unwanted orders of these desires, and I now come to You to surrender myself at Your fearless lotus feet. Kindly engage me in Your personal service and save me.

We have so many material desires. No matter how much we try to satisfy them, they are only increasing. My senses can never be satisfied. No matter, how much we sleep, the body will never say, “Oh! I do not need to sleep any longer.” No matter, how much we feed this body, this body will still soon be hungry, regardless of how opulent the food we give it is. No matter, how many new clothes we buy, we want more clothes. We want more gadgets, more comforts, and more things. If we make a tall house we will soon want to make it taller. This is our unfortunate condition. This is the reason for our bondage in material existence.

God does not want material things, he only wants our love and relation. Therefore, you should engage your consciousness toward Paramātmā. If we cannot do service then we will remain in our conditioned state, running here and there under the dictates of our lust.

The jīva has been thus conditioned since time immemorial. He has so much greed and so much selfishness.

ātmendriya-prīti-vāñchā – tāre bali ‘kāma’

kṛṣṇendriya-prīti-icchā dhare ‘prema’ nāma

Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Ādi-līlā 4.165

The desire to gratify one’s own senses is kāma, or lust, but the desire to please the senses of Kṛṣṇa is prema.

The slave of his senses is the greatest fool. Therefore, Śrīla Gurudeva taught us as soon as we came to the temple to be very strong. He told us, “Connect your love with Paramātmā”.

Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī says, “How can we achieve pure love? Not impure love, but the love which the sādhus possess. How can we achieve that prema?

pratiṣṭhāśā dhṛṣṭā śvapaca-ramaṇī me hṛdi naṭet

kathaṁ sādhu-premā spṛśati śucir etan nanu manaḥ

sadā tvaṁ sevasva prabhu-dayita-sāmantam atulaṁ

yathā tāṁ niṣkāśya tvaritam iha taṁ veśayati saḥ

Manaḥ-sikṣa 7

O mind, tell me, how can pure divine love appear in my heart as long as the shameless outcaste woman of the desire for prestige is audaciously dancing there? Therefore without delay remember and serve the immeasurably powerful commanders of Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s army, the very dear devotees of Bhagavān. They will quickly chase away this outcaste woman and initiate the flow of pure vraja-prema in my heart.

The love for materialistic people is impure. It is kāma, lust. Therefore, develop sādhu-prema, pure love—love for God. The ve things and people that you have mundane love for will be your kāla, destruction.”

While in Kṣetra-dhāma, Śrīla Gurudeva developed dharma. He planted dharma in the field, kṣetra. That is why it is called Kṣetra-dhāma. Dharma grows there. It is the place for us to perform sādhana.

Kṣetra-dhāma gives us nourishment in our spiritual life, making us able to accept these instructions of our Gurudeva.

We are attracted by the faces around us because we have no attraction to Bhagavān. We are wearing tilaka, but we are only so called sādhus.
What is the need of showing people tilaka, shaved heads neck beads, and nice red cloth? This is not beneficial for us or others. This kapaṭatā is not even present in animals.

Yamarāja tells his three messengers, “Go! Bring me those fools who never offer obeisance to Bhagavān, who never chant his name, and who avoid the association of the bhaktas. Do not, however, touch those who are connected to Bhagavān by faithfully wearing kānti-mālā and tilaka, and who always remember and serve the bhaktas.”

Gurudeva would say, “Look, go to Kṣetra-dhāma, to Jagannātha Purī. There Lord Jagannātha personally presides. There is no other authority there.

There is a place in Jagannātha Purī called Candanasarovara. Now hear about the glories of that place.

Bhagavān once said, “When I became sick and tired, there was no one who would help Me. I looked and found that everyone only wants to take from Me, and cannot give Me anything. People are always ready to receive benefits like enjoyment or liberation from Me, but, no one is grateful for My help. They say, ‘I need… I want… Give me… Give me…”
I shower my devotees in opulence and glory, but I see that although they are happy to receive all of that from Me, they do not think about Me and what I may want or need. I have given my wives in Dvārakā, ten sons and one daughter each. Also, hey have many grandchildren. When I come, they give Me some food and have Me take rest and then they busy themselves in their own material family affairs.”

Most jīvas of this world do not have prema for the Lord. They have prema for other jīvas. They see everything other than Kṛṣṇa as important. They have no place for Him. The bhaktas who have place for Kṛṣṇa in their hearts are glorified as follows:

tomāra hṛdoye sadā govinda viśrāma

govinda kohena—mama vaiṣṇava parāṇa

Bhagavān is pleased with those sādhus who always lovingly think of Him and He rests in their hearts. There is no room for anyone else in their hearts.

Bhagavān continued, “Where can I find such a sādhu? Where can I find such a Vaiṣṇava? Who has room for Me? Who awaits Me? That person is a sādhu, and is endowed with divine tendencies and qualities.

“I gladly take the foot dust of those devotees on my head. When I would take the cows to graze in Vraja that dust from the feet of the real sādhus covered my body. I rolled and played in that dust. My heart is there, in that place where there are pure hearted bhaktas. In Dvārakā, I am so sad.

“Once, Nāradajī came to Dvārakā with the foot dust of the gopīs.
By touching that vraja-raja, I became so happy. My heart overflowed with such joy that I completely forgot My surroundings. In Vraja, no one was trying to disturb Me, but when I left Vraja for Mathurā and Dvārakā, everyone surrounded Me in endeavor to fulfill their own desires. The Yādavas captured Me, and staying with them, all My happiness has left Me.

“In that situation, I saw that no one was there to please Me or take away my sadness. In times of comfort and happiness there are many friends, but in times of distress where are those friends?”

When we are wealthy and happy then many people will be there share time with us, but when we are sad or destitute then no one comes near us. So, Kṛṣṇa was very sad. The Vrajavāsīs were also so sad.

Previously, Kṛṣṇa was suffering in the separation from the Vrajavāsīs and He told the residents of Dvārakā that He had a fever. At that time, He smeared the dust from the feet of the gopīs—the gopī-candana which Nāradajī brought—all over His body. Touching this candana gave Him relief.

Kṛṣṇa also took the dust of the bhaktas’ feet at the time of Yuddhiṣṭhīra Mahārāja’s rājasūya-yajña. Bhagavān is so attached to this carana-dhuli of His bhaktas. This is why he regularly goes to Candana-sarovara. Jagannātha thinks, “How all the people that come here develop a real relation with Me? When they come here and bathe in the ocean—the king of all tīrthas—they become purified, but still their minds do not become absorbed in Me. However, if they bathe in the foot-bath water of the Vaiṣṇavas or take the dust of their feet, then their minds will become completely purified and also absorbed in Me. I Myself smear that dust on my body.”

On Snāna-yātrā Jagannātha is bathed by the Dayitās, Devatās, and Vrajavāsīs. During Candana-yātrā He goes to Candana-sarovara and carries out boating pastimes.

Bhagavān said, “I was in Vraja before. I manifested Mānasī-gaṅgā there. All the Vrajavāsīs bathed in Mānasī-gaṅgā. The sakhīs, sakhās, servants, cows, calves, peacocks, cuckoos, deer and other animals could bath there and thus Mānasī-gaṅgā became supremely pure by having collected the foot dust and caraṇāmṛta of the Vrajavāsīs. Mānasī-gaṅgā is so special that even Girirāja came down and bathed there. I was so happy with this Mānasī-gaṅgā because all the caraṇāmṛta was there and when any problem or difficulty came, I would take shelter of Mānasī-gaṅgā. I very happily bathed and played there with the gopīs and gopas. In this way, I would always remain pure. Where can I find that caraṇāmṛta now?”

When Nīla-Mādhava told Indradyumna Mahārāja that He would come to his kingdom, He had a condition. He said, “If you bring my Mānasī-gaṅgā, Yamunā, Girirāja, the gardens of Vraja there also, I will come, otherwise not.”

So, Indradyumna Mahārāja prayed to Brahmājī for help.
Brahmājī humbly invited the Vrajavāsīs, as well as Girirāja, Mānasī-gaṅgā, Śyāma-kuṇḍa, and Rādhā-kuṇḍa to come, but the they refused. They said, “How can we come? We cannot leave Vraja. Even we have to stay as worms life after life, we will stay in Vraja.”

Brahmājī related the disappointing news to Indradyumna Mahārāja. Nīla-Mādhava was firm in His condition, “If the bhaktas’ footdust and caraṇāmṛta is not there, I will never go.”

Indradyumna Mahārāja had done so much austerity and finally achieved the grace of Nīla-Mādhava. But now, Nīla-Mādhava was saying, “If you cannot follow My condition, I will not come to you kingdom for even a moment.

Indradyumna Mahārāja invited sages like Mārkaṇḍeya Ṛṣi and Yajñavalka Ṛṣi and practiced further austerities.

Gāyatrī is always present in Vraja, giving pleasure to Śrīmatī Rādhārānī. We must take shelter of her.

By the inspiration of Brahmā, Indradyumna Mahārāja received the mercy of Vraja-dhāma by taking shelter of Gāyatrī. The king’s abode then became the abode of Jagannātha. At last, Nīla-Mādhava considered His condition met. Indradyumna Mahārāja arranged a blissful festival in which beautiful kuṇḍas where manifested as well as charming forests, gardens, and hills. Nīla-Mādhava was pleased. He said, “I will always stay with you.”

Every year, for twenty-one days, Mādhava, or Jagannātha, comes out of the Temple and goes to Candana-sarovara in the afternoon.
During that period He enjoys boating pastimes. At that time, demigods and great personalities such as Śiva, Durgā, and Hanumān visit that sarovara, which is filled with the caraṇāmṛta of the Vrajavāsīs, and respectfully drink that water. They consider their lives successful when they respect that water and bathe in that sarovara. Mahāprabhu Himself bathed there along with His associates while doing kīrtana serving Madana-Mohana, the vijaya-vigraha of Jagannātha, and smearing candana on His body.

What is candana? Candana is nothing but the dust of the feet of the Vrajavāsīs. Great souls like Brahmā and Uddhava prayed for this dust:

vande nanda-vraja-strīṇāṁ

pāda-reṇum abhīkṣṇaśaḥ

yāsāṁ hari-kathodgītaṁ

punāti bhuvana-trayam

Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 10.47.63

I bow down to the dust of the feet of the gopīs who reside in Vraja—the abode of Nanda Mahārāja. Oh, whatever these gopīs have sung about Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes always has and always will purify the entire world.

āsām aho caraṇa-reṇu-juṣām ahaṁ syāṁ

vṛndāvane kim api gulma-latauṣadhīnām

yā dustyajaṁ sva-janam ārya-pathaṁ ca hitvā

bhejur mukunda-padavīṁ śrutibhir vimṛgyām

Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 10.47.61

The perfection of my existence would be to take birth in Vṛndāvana as a forest bush, creeper, herb, or even a medicinal root. Ah! If I could become one of these then I would continuously be able to serve the foot-dust from the lotus feet of the Vraja-devīs. If I could bathe myself in their foot-dust then I would become most fortunate. How blessed are those gopīs. Just see! They have abandoned those things that are most difficult to give up relations with their family members and the restrictions imposed by society and seniors. They have obtained the lotus feet of Bhagavān, complete absorption in those feet, and the topmost love for Him. What more can I say? Even the Śrutis, which are the Vedic instructions that emanate from the breathing of the Supreme Lord, are still searching for that the same super-excellent, love-laden form of
Śrī Kṛṣṇa, but they cannot attain it. The glorious footdust of the Vrajavāsīs was treasured by Yamunājī. She passed this on to the king of all tīrthas—the ocean. Yamunājī said, “I have seen and been offered many treasures, but I have never seen a treasure like this. By coming into contact with this dust, I, and even the creatures that live in my waters, have become pure and filled with bliss.”

The Ocean-god prayed to Bhagavān, “What should I do with this dust? I have all kinds of treasure with me and I give them to whomever you say. That is my work, but now I have found this unprecedented treasure. Now, what should I do with it?”

Bhagavān instructed, “Deposit that treasure unto your shore.
The effects of that treasure will benefit everyone who comes in contact with it.”

Tīrtha-pati obeyed and at that place that the Vrajavāsīs’ footdust was deposited, candana (sandal) trees grew. That place became known as Mysore. Candana trees grew from that footdust from Vraja is known in this world as a ve powerful, fragrant, and beneficial substance.

Bhagavān said, “Wherever I go, I will not stay without candana. This candana will always be pasted and smeared on My body.”

Therefore, in the Jagannātha Temple, five or ten people have the sevā of pasting candana, day and night. That candana is applied on the body of Jagannātha for His satisfaction.

Mahāprabhu was very happy to see Jagannātha’s pastimes at Candana-yātrā. He would sometimes go onto the boat that carried Jagannātha and sometimes jump from it. He played in the water with the bhaktas and would sometimes embrace the vijaya-vigraha—Madana-mohana.

We thus learn that it is essential for us to establish relation with the bhaktas in order to achieve a transcendental nature. We must take the dust of their feet.

By bathing in the ocean at Jagannātha Purī we become purified. Then we go to that place, where the bhaktas are present and take the dust of their feet and caraṇāmṛta. We go to Candana-sarovara where all the Vrajavāsīs foot dust is present. By this, we can achieve bhakti and become filled with good qualities and nature.

śuddha-sattva-viśeṣātmā prema-sūryāṁśu-sāmya-bhāk

rucibhiś citta-masṛṇya-kṛd asau bhāva ucyate

Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu 1.3.1

How can we achieve bhāva? We can achieve bhāva by mercy of bhaktas. We must make ourselves purified and freed of all āsakti and moha, attraction and attachment to mundane things.

Śrīla Gurudeva used to sit on the bank of Candana-sarovara and do kīrtana and speak hari-kathā. He would say, “We are so fortunate to
be here. Mahāprabhu bathed here. The bhaktas, demigods, and Jagannātha Himself also bathed here and continue to bathe here regularly. This is the place where all the Vrajavāsīs’ dust was brought and is now also present. We should take shelter of this glorious place, Candana-sarovara. Take ācamana here and bathe. Drink some of this water with the one prayer and desire: to always have the association of the bhaktas. In the company of the bhaktas there is no difficulty to follow bhakti and get rid of material attachment. In their association, we naturally lose all illusionary attachments to our body and mind. The senses will be unable to make us their slaves. Pray for sādhu-saṅga.

“We should have faith in holy place such as this one. Do not think that bathing at your home or in your bathroom will do. If we cannot go to the holy places and bathe, then we must do so mentally, offering praṇāma and respecting the glories and pastimes of that place. At these places we can pray that we attain anurāga for Bhagavān.”

We heard in which manner Jagannātha accepts offerings and distributes His prasāda. If we have some desire for bhakti—even the little bit—then we will never be neglected by Jagannātha.

Mahāprabhu is Bhagavān. Jagannātha is Bhagavān. Because of this, there is so much prasāda in Purī. Mahāprabhu stayed there and with His bhaktas He delivered all the baddha-jīvas there by granting His mercy
and connecting them with Jagannātha. So, if we have a little bit of desire to serve guru and Vaiṣṇavas and to make relation with them, Bhagavān will feel so much compassion toward us. He says, “Everyone is trying to steal from Me. They ask Me for the gratification of their senses. But Oh!
Here is someone who wants relation with my bhaktas!”

Some people have no attachment for the footdust of the bhaktas.
They will not go to Candana-sarovara to take ācamana. They will think, “Oh! this water is dirty, why should I bathe here? Why should I do ācamana?” But where is the filth? The filth is in their hearts only.

One time a devotee came to Vṛndāvana with some pilgrims and took them to Sevā-kuñja. The road back then was not how it is today.
They had to walk through flooded sewage and unkempt pathways.
The people following devotee did not want to proceed. These people included big businessmen and wealthy people. They said, “How can we walk through this drain? How can we go through this? Is this really how Sevā-kuñja is? Impossible. This is not Sevā-kuñja.

The devotee said, “If you do not want to continue, I will leave you and will not have any connection with you anymore. Do not look around through your material vision. See the dhāma which is transcendental. Now, if you want to be freed from the curse of disrespecting the dhāma, then you must do ācamana of this drain water. If you give up your offensive mentality and do this, then real faith will be yours.

The people thought, “The smell of this water alone is killing us.”

The devotee spoke again very strongly, “You are looking at stool, urine, and sewage, but all this is actually transcendental and able to purify you of your material desires and nature.”

The rich city people plugged their noses and tried to find a way to escape. The drains had flooded the roads, but if those people were of faith, then they would see everything as pure. They would see the dhāma and the sādhus. Sādhus never see bad things. Those who are attached to their bodies do not even want to see the dhāma and its true nature; they only want to look at the external objects of māyā. They cannot see the dhāma, Śrī Guru, or the Vaiṣṇavas.

If we want to see the dhāma; if we want to see things spiritually, and if we want to be liberated, then we must develop love for Paramātmā, and make relation with bhaktas, who have pure love. In sādhu-saṅga we will naturally progress. We will rise from the festering drain of material nature and enter the realm of spiritual nature.

At Candana-sarovara, Śrīla Gurudeva said, “Bhagavān Himself takes great pleasure in applying this candana on His body. We must follow His example. He is transcendental—the Absolute Truth—and yet, He is smearing this footdust all over His body. We must have faith like Him.

Nityānanda Prabhu lifts His arms into the air and sings, “Śraddhāvān jana he—O faithful, he who chants ‘Gaura Haribol’ is the object of My love. Just once chant Gaurāṅga’s name!” But we are so unfortunate.
We will carry out our mundane activities and pass our days and nights in vain. We don’t have time to call out Govinda or Gaurāṅga.

Why waste your life in material affairs and meditation. Remember Rūpa-Raghunātha and your spiritual family. Remember guru and Vaiṣṇavas, who direct so much mercy and affection toward you. If you remember their names and if you think if them, then Bhagavān will come in your heart because He is present in their hearts. Then faith
will awaken and a relation will come naturally.

jñāne prayāsam udapāsya namanta eva

jīvanti san-mukharitāṁ bhavadīya-vārtām

sthāne sthitāḥ śruti-gatāṁ tanu-vāṅ-manobhir

ye prāyaśo ’jita jito ’py asi tais tri-lokyām

Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 10.14.3

O Lord, in all the three worlds You are unconquerable, yet You are easily defeated by those devotees who shun the endeavor to acquire knowledge empirically by meditating on undifferentiated Brahmā; who hear about You through the narrations emanating from the mouths of sādhus; and who thus carry out their life following the path of the saints with their body, mind and words.

Be where hari-kathā and kīrtana is going on. Going to the dhāma without meeting the sādhus is useless. People visit the sites of Vraja-maṇḍala,
like Nandagrāma, Varsānā, and Mahāvana, and return to their homes, saying, “Oh! I saw that place. I saw this place. I saw this temple.”
They think, “I have done dhāma-darśana,” but their darśana is incomplete because they did not meet with the sādhus and hear hari-kathā. Such people cannot enter the real dhāma. All they see is māyā.

Therefore, make relation with the sādhus and develop attachment for hari-kathā. People can stay up all night watching cricket, but they cannot stay up whole night chanting harināma. On Janmāṣṭamī they feel tired and stressed. They complain, “Oh! I have to fast? Oh! I have to stay up the whole night?” But if there is a late night cricket game or if they are with their lovers they will forget about the time passing. They will forget about eating and sleeping. Sleep will not come if they are watching a good match. They will be clapping, lighting off fireworks, and dancing all night long. This condition is most unfortunate. Their hearts have no room for hari-kathā. They are related only to the drain. The drain is the level of their consciousness. This is the root of suffering.

Śrīla Gurudeva never supported people who have faith in things other than candana and their Tulasī neckbeads. If he ever saw people wearing kavacas and this and that, he would say, “Oh! You have faith in these other things but you have no faith in harināma, Tulasī, candana, and tilaka.”

If Gurudeva saw a brahmacārī wearing a watch he would rip it off his wrist. Why is this? He did not want devotees to waste any time or energy on material things. He wanted them to have one-pointed attention to bhakti.

Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (11.2.30) states: sat-saṅgaḥ śevadhir nṛṇām—association of sādhus is the greatest wealth. Take that association. Do not associate with even yourself. We ourselves are asat-sanga.

gaura āmāra, je saba sthāne, karalo bhramaṇa raṅge,

se-saba sthāna heribo āmi, praṇayi-bhakata-saṅge

Go where the bhaktas are and, with them, go to all the places where Gaurahari visited. Go to all the tīrthas. If guru and Vaiṣṇavas take us there, then go to the holy places. There is no use in going alone.

During Vraja-maṇḍala Parikramā, Śrīla Gurudeva, who at that time would go everywhere personally, left me behind in Mathurā to cook and arrange whatever was necessary. One day, the party went with two buses to Govardhana, and somehow or another Tīrtha Mahārāja pulled me unto the bus by force and made me sit. “Come with us for darśana!” he said. But when Śrīla Gurudeva looked back from the front and saw me sitting, he immediately got off the bus, which had not yet started, and walked toward the temple.

I thought, “Oh! He is going to cut sabjī and cook in the maṭha.” Immediately I got off the bus and ran to him. I quickly ran back to the temple and began all my services. When Śrīla Gurudeva saw me cleaning pots, sweeping, and cooking, he again got on the bus and went for darśana. So, what is important? Our own pleasure or the pleasure of Śrī Guru? How can we please Gurudeva?

When will that day come, when Guru and Vaiṣṇavas will engage us in their service and thus manifest the holy places in our heart.

In earlier years, we used to do Vraja-maṇḍala Parikramā on foot and with one or two bullock carts. We would set up kitchen and camp wherever we went. Gurudeva told me, “Even if you are sick, I will not let you go.” One time I was so sick but Gurudeva did not let me leave the parikramā and go to the hospital. He said, “If you will die here? I will bury you here and if you become ghost, I will take your ghost with me on parikramā. I will not let you go to the hospital. You must come with me. You cannot give up this Vraja-maṇḍala Parikramā and you cannot give up your sevā.”

I had such a high fever but I cooked anyhow. When I needed to do service I would have some strength. Then as soon as I finished cooking or serving I would fall ill once more, hardly able to move.

Śrīla Gurudeva taught us that this body becomes sick and one day will die. It will be burnt or eaten by worms. But if we are engaged always in service and if we always stay in the company of Guru and Vaiṣṇavas, then our anarthas and our attachments will go away.

Leaving Guru and Vaiṣṇavas is easy, but once we have left them we can never come back. If you are sitting in a car or in a fast chariot, then you can go so far, so quickly, but if you fall off the chariot, then you can never run and catch-up with it because it is going much faster than you.

Guru and Vaiṣṇavas are like a transcendental chariot blazing through the material universe. If you take up their association you will travel with them at great speed. It is like being on a train. But if you jump off the train you will never be able to catch up to the train. We must therefore do anything for the attainment of sādhu-saṅga. If you are with Guru and Vaiṣṇavas then nothing in this world can harm you. But if you give up the association of Guru and Vaiṣṇavas so many problems will come.

Now I understand the glories of association with Śrī Guru, therefore, I have no attraction, no worries, and no disturbance. My heart and mind is always connected with Gurudeva and in thoughts of him.

Who will manifest the holy places in our hearts? Only Śrī Guru can do that. Sādhu-saṅga is extremely rare. It is the most valuable thing imaginable.

You should know that sādhus themselves are holy places personified. Śrīla Gurudeva used to take us to Jagannātha Purī. We were staying at Nīlācala Gauḍīya-maṭha. Śrīla Gurudeva took us to all the special sites there and engaged us in hari-kathā and kīrtana.

Srila Gurudeva ki Jaya! (Excerpted from the Bhaktabandhav book publication, “Sri Guru Darshan”. Available from: rasik@bhaktabandhav.org )