One day, the brahmacārīs asked Śrīla Gurudeva, “How can we advance in bhajana? How can we observe brahmacarya?”
Śrīla Gurudeva was pleased and said, “Brahmacārīs who serve Bhagavān with their hands will advance and have spiritual realizations. They should wash pots, clean the temple, go out for bhikṣā, and do all sorts of services. and Bhagavān becomes pleased and bestows upon them brahma-śakti (spiritual potency). Their consciousness is then steadily purified.”
Śrīla Gurudeva instructed the brahmacārīs, “You must take special care regarding your bhojana, bhajana, and sāyana—food intake, spiritual practice, and rest. A sādhaka who desires success in spiritual life must be prudent and pure in his practice.
“Māyā will foil the bhajana of one who does not strictly follow the regulations of bhakti. Don’t be greedy for good food, cloth, or material possessions—otherwise your taste for harināma and bhajana will dissipate. Maintain your lives in a simple way—accepting those pure foodstuffs that are acquired as bhikṣā. e sādhaka who follows the urges of his tongue without restraint will not be able to control his sensual appetites. However much we and endeavor for the objects of sense gratification, your senses will only demand more and more, and your body will not be able to function without extravagance. When opulent food, cloth, or other items surface, it should be distributed to others. Renunciants should not accept luxury. Always keep your senses and mind busy in service.
Chant harināma, and hari-kathā and kīrtana, serve in the temple, and go on parikramā under guidance of Vaiṣṇavas. For if you go alone, the objects of māyā will agitate your senses.
“Simply chanting mantras will not purify one who is not careful in what he consumes. You should only eat foodstuffs that have been offered to Kṛṣṇa and which were cooked by those who have dīkṣā and perform bhajana. By doing so, your consciousness will be purified.
A person’s mentality is strongly affected by the qualities of what he eats, so have special attention in this regard. Your consciousness will become impure if you eat anything brought or cooked by a sinful, immoral person. No one will be able to prevent you from becoming engrossed in māyā.
“The potency of Bhagavān enters he who only eats foodstuffs that are the Lord’s remnants. While honoring prasāda, you should remember Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes and consider the food to be Kṛṣṇa’s personal remnants. You should stay in a clean place and respectfully honor prasāda amongst devotees. Do not think impure thoughts or speak idly while eating.”
Śrīla Gurudeva instructed how to perform bhajana. He said, “Follow this verse of the Bhāgavatam:
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,
‘Discarding the process of speculate knowledge, those who remain wherever the descriptions of Your personality and qualities are spoken by pure devotees, and who dedicate their lives to these narrations, certainly conquer Your Lord, although You are otherwise unconquerable by anyone with in the three worlds.’
“One who is intent on bhajana,” Śrīla Gurudeva said, “must reside where exalted devotees glorify Kṛṣṇa and engage in hari-kīrtana, harināma, and hari-sevā. One who stays in a polluted place, or in the association of renunciates, fruitive workers, or those who speculate, will surely not be able to practice bhajana.
“As brahmacārīs,” Gurudeva continued, “you should engage your intelligence in memorizing the verses of śāstra that are favorable to your level of bhakti. Bhagavān Himself speaks the words of the scriptures, owing the path that leads to Him. To remember them is to remember Bhagavān, and to learn them by heart is to bring Bhagavān into your heart. All contamination’s disappear and all auspiciousness arises for that person who becomes the living vessel of the scriptures by keeping them in his heart. To remember the words of śāstra is to meditate on the Lord’s lotus feet. Thus, meditating on the words of śāstra is the cause of salvation from worldly entanglement.
avismṛtiḥ kṛṣṇa-padāravindayoḥ, kṣiṇoty abhadrāṇi ca śaṁ tanoti, sattvasya śuddhiṁ paramātma-bhaktiṁ jñānaṁ ca vijñāna-virāga-yuktam
‘The Supreme Lord’s lotus feet are the greatest source of auspiciousness. By never forgetting them, all in-auspiciousness is destroyed and peace finally prevails in the mind. When your being is thus genuinely purified, devotion to the Lord is awakened and you again spiritual knowledge, realization of that knowledge, and detachment from mundane, worldly things.’
Śrīla Gurudeva instructed how the sādhaka or brahmacārī should rest. He said, “Brahmacārīs should be pure in body and mind. Offer yourself to Parabrahma and keep thoughts of Parabrahma always in your mind. Thus you can be a strong brahmacārī. Don’t be a vyabhicārī, one who is deviated and only devoted to pleasing his senses. Bathe or at least clean your hands, feet, and face before resting. Lay to rest wearing clean clothes and on clean bedding. You should not sleep as a form of sense enjoyment. If you have not cleansed yourself before resting, or your bedding or clothing is unclean, is an invitation to evil spirits to come disturb you. A brahmacārī is apt to see unchaste dreams at night and to lose his vital energy if he sleeps in an impure mental or physical state. That brahmacārī will have no strength to rise from his bed until nine or ten in the morning.
“The sādhaka sleeps so that his body can be rejuvenated by Bhagavān’s potency. When going to bed, first offer obeisance to Bhagavān and remember Him by offering prayers. Bhagavān will then come and wake you during brāhma-muhūrta and will inspire you to perform bhajana. Mentally offer your body at the lotus feet of Bhagavān, and then as you sleep you will be energized and will have fresh strength to serve in the morning.
“Sleep can be advantageous for the practice of sādhana-bhajana. While one is sleeping he has little connection with the gross body, therefore at this time it is easier to serve through the soul. As the sādhaka progresses his apparent sleep becomes his continuous service in his internalized state.
“You should sleep with articles offered to the Deity nearby, such as remnant flowers, or have offered incense or a ghee lamp burning in a safe place. Place pictures of your Gurudeva or the Deities close to your head; when you sleep, your dreams will then be in relation to Krṣṇa or you will have realizations of siddhānta that would be impossible during the day.”
Srila Gurudeva ki Jaya! (excerpted from “Sri Guru Darshan”, order this wonderful book from; [email protected])